Chelsea could achieve English first, Bayern and Villarreal disparity – Champions League in Opta numbers

By Sports Desk April 06, 2022

The business end of the Champions League usually throws up familiar rivalries, with Europe's big guns so often getting to the latter stages of the competition.

Wednesday sees a repeat of last season's semi-final as Chelsea and Real Madrid contest a tie brimming with European pedigree, but last year's Europa League winners Villarreal are playing the increasingly customary role of Champions League disruptor.

From Atalanta to Ajax to Lyon, there seems to be one club that manages to punch above their weight in relation to Europe's elite in recent seasons, and Unai Emery's side will have their work cut against Bayern Munich.

We take a look at both games using Opta facts, which suggest two enticing matchups as well as contrasts of style.

Chelsea v Real Madrid

As mentioned, this is the second consecutive season in which Chelsea and Madrid have met in the knockout stages of the Champions League. The Blues could become the first English team to eliminate Los Blancos from the knockout stages of the competition on multiple occasions, having progressed 3-1 on aggregate in last season's semi-final.

That tie was notable for the first leg, in one of the few times former head coach Zinedine Zidane went away from his usual midfield of Toni Kroos, Casemiro and Luka Modric, and with a rare 3-4-3 formation. If not for Edouard Mendy's early heroics to deny Karim Benzema, the second leg at Stamford Bridge when Zidane reverted could have also panned out differently.

However, Chelsea are unbeaten in their last eight games against Spanish opposition, with their last defeat coming at Stamford Bridge under Frank Lampard as Valencia won 1-0.

Meanwhile, Madrid have lost only one of their last eight Champions League games when facing the holders, while they have won each of the last three without conceding a goal.

Benzema is coming into this tie in intimidatingly good form, and following his hat trick against Paris Saint-Germain in the last-16, his season tally of eight Champions League goals is the highest of his career.

Since Thomas Tuchel has taken over at Chelsea, they have been close to impenetrable defensively. From his first Champions League game with them in February 2021, the Blues have kept a clean sheet in 10 out of 15 games.

 

Villarreal v Bayern Munich

This is only the second meeting between the two clubs after the 2011-12 season, when Bayern won 3-1 at home and 2-0 away before ultimately reaching and losing the final.

This will be Villarreal's first game in the Champions League quarter-finals since 2009, when they were eliminated by Arsenal. Overall, they have only won one of their six games at this stage of the competition or later, a 1-0 victory at home to Inter in 2006.

While the approach from Emery will be almost certain to try to contain, Bayern have scored an astonishing 101 goals in the Champions League since they were last held to a clean sheet, against Liverpool in 2019.

They have won 26 out of the previous 34 games since, averaging 3.4 goals a game over that span.

Robert Lewandowski has naturally been key to that, scoring 12 goals in eight Champions League appearances this term, and is one of three players to enter a quarter-final stage with that many goals – the other two being Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Much like against Juventus, the question will be how long will the periods of containment be for Villarreal, in order to make their forays in the opposite half truly count?

 

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