Chelsea’s chances of competing in Europe’s premier club competition next season will be treading on thin ice when they host Borussia Dortmund at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night. The west Londoners have won just two of their last twelve fixtures and trail 0-1 from the first leg at Signal Iduna Park. Unless Graham Potter’s bedraggled outfit, who are eleven points off fourth position in the Premier League, can outlast Dortmund by a margin of two or more goals, they won’t feature in the 2023/4 edition of the Uefa Champions League.
Edin Terzic’s ebullient Dortmund are European football’s most in form side. The Black and Yellows have won a club record ten matches on the bounce to bridge a nine point deficit on Bundesliga pacesetters Bayern Munich. Central to the 1997 Champions League winners’ resurgence, is the irrepressible energy of midfield metronome Jude Bellingham, red-hot form of Julian Brandt and timeless running of Marco Reus.
The match has come too soon for Chelsea’s ubiquitous World Cup winning midfielder Ngolo Kante who has resumed training but is unfit to start. The 2012 and 2021 Champions League winners are also without long term absentees Edouard Mendy and Armando Broja, as well as skipper Thiago Silva, Mason Mount and Cesar Azpilicueta. Both Reece James and Christian Pulisic are in contention to feature despite sitting out of Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Leeds United.
Wednesday’s Allianz Arena showdown between Bayern Munich and Paris Saint Germain is the pick of the matches. Christopher Galtier’s PSG upstarts are without the world’s most expensive player, Neymar Jr, who has been ruled out for the season after undergoing ankle surgery whereas Julian Nagelmann’s Bavarians must defend a precarious 1-0 advantage while missing captain Manuel Neuer and World Cup winning defender Lucas Hernandez.
Portuguese champions Benfica, European Cup winners in 1961 and 1962, are overwhelming favourites to reach the last eight as they carry a two goal cushion from the first leg at Club Brugges. Tottenham Hotspur skipper Harry Kane is to be under microscopic scrutiny when the north Londoners attempt to overhaul a 0-1 deficit from the first leg at AC Milan’s San Siro Stadium. Next week’s action will feature a gigantic showdown between record 14-time champions Real Madrid and Liverpool.
Benfica v Club Brugges,
Chelsea v Borussia Dortmund
Bayern Munich v Paris Saint Germain,
Tottenham Hotspur v AC Milan
FC Porto v Inter Milan,
Manchester City v RB Leipzig
Real Madrid v Liverpool,
Napoli v Eintracht Frankfurt