Bayern embrace memory of seventh heaven in the Eternal City, Luis Suarez in a European rut - Champions League in Opta numbers

By Sports Desk February 23, 2021

Holders Bayern Munich look to move another step closer to retaining their Champions League title when they face Lazio, while Atletico Madrid and Chelsea do battle in Bucharest on Tuesday.

Bayern cruised into the round of 16 as Group A winners, claiming five victories and a draw in six games, and will be expected to knock Serie A side Lazio out, although they will arrive in Rome on the back of a 2-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt.

Lazio and the Bundesliga leaders will lock horns at Stadio Olimpico in the first leg, but there will be no home advantage for Atleti when they take on Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea.

Coronavirus-related travel restrictions meant the game was moved to the National Arena in the capital of Romania, which Tuchel believes will give his side an advantage.

We used Opta numbers to preview the two clashes.

 

Atletico Madrid v Chelsea: Suarez not yet off the mark

If history is anything to go by, it could be difficult to pick a winner in this tie as the two sides have won two apiece and drawn three of their previous European games - scoring 11 goals each.

Atleti have reached the knockout stages of the Champions League for the seventh time in the last eight seasons. Chelsea will attempt to progress past the round of 16 for the first time since the 2013-14 campaign, when they lost to Diego Simeone's men in the semi-finals.

Luis Suarez has never failed to score or deliver an assist in a Champions League season – this is his eighth campaign in the tournament. The striker has not scored or laid a goal on in his four Champions League games for Atleti.

Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud found the net every 28 minutes on average in the group stage this term (five goals in 142 minutes), the best ratio of any player to score more than once.

Among the goalkeepers to play at least three Champions League games this season, Chelsea's Edouard Mendy has the best save percentage in the competition (94 per cent), only conceding from one of the 16 shots on target he has faced.

Lazio v Bayern Munich: Holders out to complete another Italian job

Lazio have only lost one of their six Champions League matches against German opposition (W2 D3) and remain unbeaten at home.

However, Bayern are unbeaten in their previous five Champions League away games against Italian sides (W3 D2). Their two visits to Stadio Olimpico in the competition have produced 13 goals, including a 7-1 victory against Roma in October 2014.

The Bavarian giants have reached the knockout stages for the 13th consecutive season, only Real Madrid (24) and Barcelona (17) are on longer runs.

Bayern have also won 16 of their past 17 Champions League games (D1), with an overall goal difference of +48 (61 goals for, 13 against) – that is four more wins than any other side over that period (Paris Saint-Germain have won 12).

While Ciro Immobile – eight goals in nine Champions League starts – will be Lazio's dangerman, Bayern's talisman needs no introduction.

Robert Lewandowski has 31 goals in 33 Champions League appearances since the start of 2017-18, more than any other player – Cristiano Ronaldo is second with 29 in 34 outings.

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    Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said he is "surprised" at the reaction to Manchester United not being awarded a penalty in Sunday's scoreless Premier League draw.

    United were left aggrieved following the denial of a first-half spot-kick as Chelsea and the visiting Red Devils produced a 0-0 stalemate at Stamford Bridge.

    In the first half, referee Stuart Attwell checked on the pitchside monitor to see if a penalty should have been awarded to United when a bouncing ball struck the raised hand of Callum Hudson-Odoi, who was tussling with Mason Greenwood.

    Attwell stuck with his initial decision not to give the spot-kick and, much to the frustration of United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and full-back Luke Shaw.

    Afterwards, Tuchel – just the second manager to see his side keep a clean sheet in his first four home matches in the Premier League after Brendan Rodgers with Swansea City in 2011-12 – told reporters: "For me it was no penalty. I was surprised and I'm still surprised [at the reaction].

    "I didn't see it live where the penalty should come from, and when we checked on the pictures we have I couldn't see any incident that should qualify as a penalty. Until now I don't know why it should be a penalty."

    It was another 0-0 affair between Chelsea and United – both matches in a league season failing to yield goals for just the second time after 1921-22.

    Chelsea are unbeaten since Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard – the Blues in the midst of a 10-match undefeated streak across all competitions.

    Tuchel's Chelsea are fifth in the Premier League, one point adrift of the top four, six points behind second-placed United and 18 adrift of runaway leaders Manchester City through 26 rounds.

    "It would have been a big result. We tried everything to win, to be prepared for no other intention but to win," Tuchel said. "We are in the middle of a battle to the top four.

    "We have closed the gap quickly and now is the moment to hang in and to show performances every three or four days.

    "I feel the team is very competitive and difficult to play against. We will be able to win games. We are still in the battle and that's the good news."

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    Winner of last year's U.S. PGA Championship, Morikawa used a three-under-par 69 to seal victory at the star-studded World Golf Championships event in Florida ahead of Viktor Hovland, Brooks Koepka and Billy Horschel on Sunday.

    Morikawa holed four birdies and just one bogey to finish 18 under for his fourth PGA Tour crown – the most by any player currently aged under 25.

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    Further to that feat, Morikawa is the seventh player to claim four or more PGA Tour tournaments – including a major – under the age of 25, following in the footsteps of Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Jerry Pate.

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    Pep Guardiola will manage Sergio Aguero carefully, as he explained the difficulties of keeping each player in his Manchester City squad satisfied.

    City made it 20 successive wins in all competitions on Saturday, as they edged past West Ham 2-1 in the Premier League thanks to goals from defenders Ruben Dias and John Stones.

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    "So it's good that he played 60 minutes, that's good for his legs. In the next games, we might need him for 10, 15 minutes or from the beginning. 

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    Garcia has made just three league appearances this season, and last featured for City in an FA Cup win over Swansea City in early February.

    "There are other players who want to play too, so I know Sergio is so important for us. What he has done for this club – he has scored the most important goal for us," Guardiola continued.

    "We want to help him and see him good but, at the same time, Raheem [Sterling] didn't start, Phil [Foden], Bernardo [Silva] didn't. So I try to handle it so everyone can be involved.

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    "It's not just for Sergio, it's for everyone. I think about who is best in this position, who is in the best condition. If I am fair to one player, I am unfair to another one, that is the difficulty.

    "Now it's for him to prepare if we need him, at the end there will be games that are tough and difficult and we will need a goal! Who is the best guy to do that – it's him.

    "Every player needs time, especially him but everyone needs time. We have trophies to fight for, soon we'll be going to Goodison Park for a quarter-final, the second leg of the Champions League. 

    "Many nice things to fight for and everyone needs to be ready."

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