Bayern Munich have confirmed Robert Lewandowski will be sidelined for a month after suffering a knee injury against Chelsea.

Robert Lewandowski equalled a Champions League best set by Cristiano Ronaldo as he led Bayern Munich to an emphatic win at Chelsea.

Lewandowski scored once and assisted another two goals as the Bundesliga leaders claimed a 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge in the first leg of their last-16 tie on Tuesday.

The Bayern striker combined with Serge Gnabry to devastating effect to set up two goals in the space of three minutes for the Germany winger, before tapping in a cross from the electric Alphonso Davies to secure a potentially unassailable first-leg advantage.

Lewandowski moved onto 11 goals in seven Champions League games, his best record in a single season, while he also matched Ronaldo's record of nine away goals scored in Europe's top club competition in the same campaign set back in 2013-14.

Remarkably, the Poland star had gone 672 minutes without a goal in the Champions League knockout phase until his simple finish.

Bayern's win means they have scored three or more goals away from home against four separate English sides in the competition since 2013 - Arsenal twice, Tottenham, and now Chelsea.

The margin of defeat was Chelsea's heaviest at home in any European competition in their history.

While Lewandowski and Gnabry were responsible for the goals, it was the performance of young converted full-back Davies that particularly caught the eye.

The 19-year-old was a menace down the left with his pace and also kept Chelsea wing-back Reece James on the fringes of the action with some superb defensive work.

As well as creating two chances overall, including Lewandowski's tap-in, Davies regained possession eight times in the 90 minutes. Only Thiago Alcantara (17) did so more often for Hansi Flick's side.

Lionel Messi will hope to better a barren record on Italian soil when Barcelona visit Napoli in the last 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday.

Quique Setien's first match in charge in the competition will see him tasked with improving Barca's fortunes on their travels in Europe, although Napoli have an enviable goalscoring record in front of their own fans.

Bayern Munich head to Chelsea in a repeat of the 2012 final that they lost on home soil, and goals certainly appear likely given the previous meetings between the pair.

However, the Bundesliga champions will need Robert Lewandowski to find his shooting boots given the striker has struggled in recent seasons when going beyond the group stages.

Here is the pick of the Opta facts ahead of two tantalising first legs...

Chelsea v Bayern Munich

17 - The four previous matches in all competitions between Chelsea and Bayern Munich have produced 17 goals, an average of 4.25 per game.

18 - Bayern won maximum points (18/18) and had a goal difference of +19 in the Champions League group stages this season, the best performance by a team in the group phase of the competition. However, none of the previous six teams to have won all their group games have subsequently lifted the trophy that same season.

1 - Chelsea have won only one of their past six Champions League games at Stamford Bridge (D4 L1), a 2-1 victory against Lille last December.

5 - Chelsea and Bayern scored the joint-most goals from set-pieces in this season's Champions League group stages (5), including three each from corners.

597 - Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski has scored 10 goals in this season's Champions League, only the second time he has reached double figures in the tournament after 2012-13 with Borussia Dortmund. However, he has failed to find the net in his past 597 minutes in the knockout stages of the tournament, his longest drought.

Napoli v Barcelona

2 - Napoli were eliminated in their two previous European Cup/Champions League two-legged ties with Spanish opposition, both times against Real Madrid: 3-1 on aggregate in 1987-88 (first round) and 6-2 in 2016-17 (round of 16).

0 - Barcelona's last away win against Italian opposition in the Champions League knockout stages came in April 2006, when they beat Milan 1-0, courtesy of a Ludovic Giuly goal; current Napoli boss Gennaro Gattuso played in that game for Milan. Since then, Barcelona have failed to win any of their five such away trips to Italy (D1 L4) and have failed to score in the past four.

20 - Napoli have only failed to score once in 20 Champions League games at the San Paolo, a goalless draw against Dynamo Kiev in November 2016. They are also unbeaten in their past seven home games in the competition (W5 D2).

1 - Barca have won only one of their past eight away games in the Champions League knockout phase (D2 L5), a 1-0 victory against Manchester United in April 2019. In those eight games, they have scored only two goals and conceded 17.

10 - Lionel Messi's total of two goals in five games in this season's Champions League group phase was his lowest for 10 years (since two goals in 2009-10). His only goal on Italian soil in the Champions League knockout stages was in the 2009 final against Manchester United at Rome's Stadio Olimpico – he has failed to find the net (or deliver an assist) in each of his subsequent five appearances.

Frank Lampard will warn his Chelsea squad they must be prepared to "suffer" as they attempt to upset the odds and knock Bayern Munich out of the Champions League.

The Premier League club host Bayern in the opening leg of the last-16 tie on Tuesday, with the return fixture at the Allianz Arena on March 18.

Chelsea will aim to capitalise on having home advantage in the first meeting, but Lampard acknowledges this will be a "level up" for some of his younger, less experienced players in Europe's leading club competition.

"We've got players with Champions League experience in this group, as well as younger players in the early stages of their careers, particularly in the Champions League," Lampard, who won the tournament as a player with Chelsea during his illustrious career, told the media on Monday.

"They have to understand why I keep talking about the levels going up, and what the mindset levels are. A big part of my job tomorrow is to explain to the players that over two legs, we need to be at our maximum.

"We must make sure every box is ticked in both games. We can't get caught up in game moments. After the game, we will probably suffer.

"Bayern Munich are an incredible side with the ball. They've got some really talented players who keep the ball and use the ball well. If we have to suffer, we have to suffer. That's our job over the next two games."

This will be a new challenge for Reece James and Mason Mount in particular, the duo having spent the previous season on loan at Championship clubs Wigan Athletic and Derby County respectively.

However, Lampard will continue to put faith in his youth movement as the Blues look to progress to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2014.

"I've got no doubts to start them. I trust in those two," the Chelsea head coach said. "I trust all the young players who have been part of the squad this year. That's a huge part of what we do here.

"The reason I trust them is because of the way they play, the way they train. I will speak to them.

"They've played big games but as I've mentioned before, it changes slightly when you get to the knockout stage. I'll certainly speak to all of my players, particularly the younger players about what that means."

Chelsea go into the game following a 2-1 league win Tottenham, who lost 7-2 at home to Bayern in the group stages of the Champions League.

Olivier Giroud started – and scored – in the weekend triumph over their London rivals, leaving Lampard with a decision to make over whether the France striker retains his place in the starting XI.

"I know I can rely on him," he said of Giroud. "He's professional, he's quality and he was great. He's given me a lot to think about."

Pedro is available again, but Lampard confirmed he will be without Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi – who is "not far away" from a return – and N'Golo Kante.

Bayern Munich will show respect to Chelsea but intend to take a bold approach at Stamford Bridge in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie, says Hansi Flick.

The Bundesliga champions certainly were aggressive in their previous trip to London in the competition, thrashing Tottenham 7-2 last October in the group stage.

While their opponents qualified for the knockout rounds with a 100 per cent record, Chelsea progressed despite just winning one of their three home games, giving Bayern further cause for optimism ahead of Tuesday's fixture in the English capital.

However, Flick has been impressed by the Blues this season, believing they are punching above their weight in the Premier League under Frank Lampard. 

"My team knows what to expect and we want to be brave, confident and attack," Bayern's head coach told the media. "I'm really full of confidence we can put in a good performance.

"We've analysed their strengths and weaknesses, the chances we see where we can decide the game for us.

"I think they play very well, and they have built a new team. They're very good, fourth in the Premier League and several teams are behind them that you thought would have been ahead of them.

"We're going to show respect, but we will not be full of fear."

On opposite number Lampard, Flick added: "He's doing a really good job. He's been successful in the Premier League by getting to fourth. They look like they will qualify for the Champions League. A great job.

Flick – who celebrated his 55th birthday on Monday – confirmed Leon Goretzka should be available after training with the squad prior to their flight from Germany.

Philippe Coutinho will also hope to feature after starting Friday's 3-2 league win over Paderborn, with the subject of the Brazilian's form once again raised during Bayern's pre-match press conference.

Asked about Coutinho's lack of consistency since joining the club, Flick said: "I'm always positive when I look at how he plays in training. He's football mad.

"Sometimes he is putting himself under too much pressure. He always tries to give his own mark on the game, so every decision he makes is generally right, but we will always support him.

"I think a lot of him as a player and a human being."

Erling Haaland has taken the world by storm since joining Borussia Dortmund in January.

Already stunning Europe with his exploits for Salzburg, Haaland has scored 12 goals in eight appearances as a Dortmund player.

Now, Real Madrid could be about to come sniffing in their pursuit of goals.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND AN OPTION FOR MADRID

Borussia Dortmund sensation Haaland could be a cheaper alternative for Real Madrid instead of Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, writes Marca.

Mbappe has long been linked with a move to Madrid, where Zinedine Zidane is a keen admirer of his fellow Frenchman.

However, 19-year-old Dortmund recruit Haaland – whose €75million release clause is set to kick in next year – has emerged as an option for Madrid, with PSG set to demand a mammoth fee for Mbappe.

 

ROUND-UP

- Reports linking Inter star Lautaro Martinez to Barcelona are gathering steam and Calciomercato says the LaLiga champions want to start negotiations by May. Madrid and Manchester United are also reportedly interested.

- Staying at Camp Nou and Barca are keen on signing Valencia centre-back Hugo Guillamon, according to Sport. The 20-year-old will be available on a free transfer at season's end.

Bayern Munich are interested in RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano but Kicker claims the Bundesliga champions believe he is too expensive at €60m. Upamecano has been linked to Arsenal, Tottenham, Barca and Madrid.

- Remaining in Munich and Kicker also says Bayern are unconvinced by the €100m price tag of Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz, whose admirers include the likes of Liverpool and United.

After dominating European football for over a decade, could Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo shelve their rivalry and come together as team-mates?

David Beckham might be the man to make it happen.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder appears to have ambitious plans for his new MLS franchise.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI, RONALDO WANTED AT INTER MIAMI

Barcelona captain Messi, 32, and Juventus talisman Ronaldo, 35, will end their careers on the same side if Inter Miami co-owner Beckham gets his wish, according to the Mirror.

The newspaper claims the new MLS outfit are "already thinking big" and could look to lure football's two biggest superstars to the United States.

LA Galaxy have also been linked with a move for Messi but Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath believes Beckham's pulling power has the potential to create a dream attacking duo.

“For Ronaldo and Messi, the two obvious destinations if they came to the MLS would be Los Angeles and Miami," Heath told the Mirror.

"And, with his links to both players and the plan Beckham and his backers have in place, I can really only see them going to Miami."

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United are set to launch a £50million bid for Wolves forward Diogo Jota, scorer of a Europa League hat-trick on Thursday, reports the Express.

- United have also been linked with Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham but the Red Devils are set to face competition from Liverpool, according to the Daily Star.

- Serie A leaders Juventus are at the front of the queue for Paul Pogba but Paris Saint-Germain also hope to land the French star, reports Le10 Sport.

- PSG, meanwhile, are planning for life after Thomas Tuchel, who is said to be in talks with Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich. L'Equipe claims the Ligue 1 champions could look to replace him with either Massimiliano Allegri or Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi.

- Premier League clubs Sheffield United, Wolves and Burnley are showing interest in Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips, suggests the Sun.

Manuel Neuer was "relieved" after Bayern Munich survived a scare against Bundesliga's bottom team Paderborn thanks to Robert Lewandowski's brace.

Lewandowski scored twice – including the 88th-minute winner – as Bayern maintained their lead atop the table with a hard-fought 3-2 victory on Friday.

Bayern twice saw a one-goal lead erased by lowly Paderborn but managed to see off the visitors in unconvincing fashion at Allianz Arena.

Reflecting on the result, which ensured Bayern will remain top of the standings ahead of RB Leipzig, goalkeeper Neuer said: "I'm really relieved!

"The three points had been our goal. It was important to keep our foot on the gas and to believe we can win the match. It was annoying that we had to toil after the second equaliser.

"We achieved it together, it was a team effort. We had to change our formation a bit due to the one-match bans, so it was clear we couldn't play as we had in the last few weeks."

German champions Bayern are on a nine-match unbeaten streak in the Bundesliga, without a loss since December 7.

"I'm satisfied with the result," Bayern head coach Hansi Flick said. "Paderborn pushed us to our limits. We tried everything after the second equaliser.

"A compliment to my team, we fought. It's part of it to put up a fight as a team after setbacks and to force victories. We switched to a back three, so it was clear not everything would work out perfectly. We allowed them hardly any chances in the first half, but we didn't finish our moves well in some situations. We addressed that at half-time.

"It wasn't an easy match, but we'd told the team beforehand. Paderborn play well, they try again and again to find positive solutions and attack with determination. At the end of the day I'm glad we've taken three points."

Robert Lewandowski scored a late winner to send Bayern Munich four points clear at the top of the Bundesliga with a 3-2 over bottom side Paderborn.

Hansi Flick's men twice saw a one-goal lead erased by their lowly visitors in an absorbing encounter, with efforts from Serge Gnabry and Lewandowski cancelled out by Dennis Srbeny and Sven Michel.

However, two minutes from the end of normal time Gnabry and Lewandowski combined to seal maximum points for Bayern, albeit in unconvincing fashion.

After avoiding a remarkable slip-up, Bayern can watch the rest of the weekend's action with the pressure firmly on challengers RB Leipzig as they visit Schalke on Saturday looking to reduce the gap back to a point.

 

 

Bayern Munich head coach Hansi Flick is staying relaxed despite the uncertainty surrounding his future and wants to establish his own "philosophy" after his playing style was compared to that of Pep Guardiola.

Flick took over from Niko Kovac in November after the Croatian was dismissed, and following an initial interim spell in charge, he was appointed head coach until the end of the season.

Bayern were fourth in the Bundesliga when Kovac was sacked but have since risen to the summit, winning 13 of 16 matches in all competitions following the 5-1 thrashing at Eintracht Frankfurt that cost Flick's predecessor his job.

But recent reports have claimed Flick is frustrated by Bayern's unwillingness to appoint him on a long-term basis before the end of the season, while other stories suggest he is attracting interest from rival clubs.

Publicly, however, Flick insists he is at ease with his situation and not thinking about the future.

"I live in the present. I just enjoy it," Flick told reporters on Thursday.

"We try to do a good job. What comes next is in the stars. Bayern have a bit of peace and quiet, thinking about what they want to do in the future.

"I concentrate on the here and now. If they are convinced, they will make a decision. If they then want another coach, the world will not end for me either.

"I've never talked about that before. Bayern Munich are my employers. Everything else just distracts."

Flick's rise to the top job at Bayern has facilitated an improvement not only in results but also the perception of their brand of football.

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said after Sunday's 4-1 win at Cologne that their first-half performance resembled the Bayern of former coach Guardiola, a three-time Bundesliga champion.

Yet while Flick sees the Manchester City boss as an inspiration, he wants to craft his own ideology.

"Guardiola is the best coach, for me," Flick said. "I was able to get to know him during my time at the DFB [German Football Association].

"The way in which he plays is an inspiration for many, also for me. But everyone has to have their own philosophy. In this respect, it's not derogatory [against Guardiola]."

Bayern are next in action on Friday when they host basement side Paderborn.

N'Golo Kante's injury-hit campaign continued after the Chelsea midfielder was forced off early on against Manchester United on Monday.

Kante, who was out with a hamstring problem in January and missed several games earlier in the season with groin and ankle issues, made way after 12 minutes at Stamford Bridge. 

It was not clear what the problem was for the 28-year-old, who has made 18 Premier League appearances for Frank Lampard's team and was replaced by Mason Mount.

The injury comes ahead of important fixtures for Chelsea, who face Tottenham on Saturday and Bayern Munich in the first leg Champions League of their last-16 tie three days later.

Serge Gnabry suggested Cologne had no answer to Bayern Munich's rapid start on Sunday as three goals in the opening dozen minutes took the Bavarian giants back top of the Bundesliga.

Robert Lewandowski, Kingsley Coman and Gnabry all struck early on as Bayern raced out of the blocks en route to a 4-1 victory that saw them move above RB Leipzig again in the standings.

Gnabry scored again in the second half before Mark Uth pulled one back, with Bayern's two-goal forward delighted with the way the visitors approached the early stages of the contest.

"We are happy to have three points. I think we came out very strong in the first half - Cologne did not have a chance," Gnabry told the Bundesliga's website.

"I think in the second half we should have scored our fourth goal earlier to not let them come back, but in the end we are happy about the three points and I think we showed a strong performance."

Gnabry could have had a hat-trick but he lost his balance and hit the crossbar after rounding Cologne's goalkeeper Timo Horn, who also tipped a long-range effort from Joshua Kimmich onto a post before the break.

Despite the eventual scoreline, Bayern's inability to add to their three-goal haul until midway through the second half frustrated goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

"I was expecting a little more resistance in the beginning," he told Sky of Cologne.

"We could have scored up to 10 goals. We have to reproach ourselves.

"It annoys me that we didn't keep playing because we made life difficult for ourselves."

Cologne had come into the game on the back of four straight home wins in the Bundesliga, but they were blown away by Bayern in the opening exchanges.

"In the first half you could see that we're still developing," head coach Markus Gisdol said at a news conference.

"Bayern showed their class. We were too passive and weren't courageous enough.

"I had hoped that we could have stayed in the game for longer. But in the second half we presented ourselves well. The boys can learn something from both halves."

Bayern Munich returned to the top of the Bundesliga as they swept aside Cologne 4-1 on the back of three goals in the opening 12 minutes.

RB Leipzig leapfrogged Bayern with a 3-0 victory over Werder Bremen on Saturday, but Hansi Flick's side responded the following day by blowing away their hosts early on.

Thomas Muller laid on goals for Robert Lewandowski and Kingsley Coman before Serge Gnabry rifled in a third from a Joshua Kimmich corner.

Gnabry added a second 24 minutes from time, with Mark Uth pulling one back for Cologne, as Bayern went back above Leipzig, who now trail the reigning champions by one point after 22 games.

Lewandowski reached 40 goals for club and country this season in the third minute, collecting a Muller pass and smashing into the roof of the net to make it 12 goals in 14 games against Cologne.

The home side were being cut open at will and Lewandowski and Muller were involved again when the latter found Coman, whose effort deflected in off Rafael Czichos to make it 2-0.

Bayern refused to let up and they had a three-goal lead when Gnabry brought down Kimmich's delivery to the far post and steered into the bottom-right corner of the net.

Only the woodwork prevented the Bavarian giants' lead from being greater at the interval as an off-balance Gnabry hit the crossbar and Timo Horn tipped Kimmich's long-range effort against the post.

Cologne might have found a way back had Jhon Cordoba not had two goals disallowed for offside inside the opening 10 minutes of the second half.

Bayern had eased off but scored a fourth in the 66th minute when Gnabry cut in off the left and curled home his second before Cologne finally got a consolation, Uth remaining onside to apply the finish to Florian Kainz's cross.

Gnabry squandered a glorious chance for his hat-trick when he fired wide after a lovely backheel from Muller, who missed out on a treble of assists in the process.

 

What does it mean? Bayern deliver perfect response to Leipzig win

Bayern, 29-time Bundesliga champions, are not used to playing catch up but Leipzig's win on Saturday added some extra pressure to this fixture.

Cologne were in good form too having won four top-flight home games in a row, yet Bayern's blistering start meant the result was a foregone conclusion after just a dozen minutes.

Muller's here to assist you

With another two assists, Muller reached 14 for the season, already equalling his personal best from the 2017-18 season.

The 30-year-old's contract expires at the end of next season and his recent form shows Bayern would be wise to agree fresh terms.

Katterbach caught out all too often

None of Cologne's back four came out of the early exchanges with any real credit but Noah Katterbach in particular struggled against Coman.

Katterbach's rotten afternoon was ended by injury inside the opening half an hour and it did not help that his replacement Kainz was arguably Cologne's best player.

What's next?

Bayern have the chance to move four points clear of Leipzig as they next play on Friday when they host Paderborn. Cologne head to Hertha Berlin the following day.

Manuel Neuer looks set to boost Bayern Munich for Sunday's trip to Cologne after he returned to training on Friday.

The goalkeeper and captain of Bayern was absent on Thursday due to a gastro-intestinal infection, but the 33-year-old appears primed to maintain his ever-present record in this season's Bundesliga.

That news came as a major boost to head coach Hansi Flick, who is set to be without Javi Martinez and Niklas Sule for the clash with Markus Gisdol's team, with left-back David Alaba expected to shake off a minor muscle problem.

A goalless draw with title rivals RB Leipzig last week kept Bayern top of the table, but Flick has warned his side they must not show any weakness at this point in the campaign.

Flick identified Cologne, who sit in 13th place, as a team who have shown marked improvement since the early months of the season.

Gisdol took charge in November, when Cologne had won just twice in 11 league games, losing eight of those matches - including a 4-0 thumping at Bayern.

They have since won five and lost three games, and Flick observed in a news conference on Friday: "They have been very successful since Markus Gisdol became coach there.

"Cologne are a team who can sometimes squeeze and hurt you. We don't want to let that happen."

Flick spoke of how Bayern are preparing for the "English weeks" in their season, meaning the weeks when they must play matches both at the weekend and in midweek.

With Champions League and domestic cup commitments ahead, the schedule could be hectic over the remaining months of the campaign.

Flick said he was pleased to see Kingsley Coman and Lucas Hernandez recovering well from knee injuries.

"We still don’t know if they are ready for 90 minutes," Flick said. "Of course they need practice. The goal is for everyone to be at 100 per cent if possible when the English weeks begin."

What has been pleasing to Flick, during the time he has spent as Bayern's interim boss, is the way there has been strong communication with his players.

Bayern's results have significantly perked up, with the draw against Leipzig coming at the end of a run of eight wins in competitive games.

"We want everyone to have a say," Flick said. "At the moment, it's working well. Players are coming to me too. It's a good and important sign."

Manuel Neuer is a doubt for Bayern Munich's trip to Cologne on Sunday after he missed training due to illness.

Bayern confirmed their captain sat out Thursday's session at Sabener Strasse because of a gastro-intestinal infection.

Neuer, 33, has been an ever-present for Bayern in the Bundesliga and Champions League this season.

There was better news for head coach Hansi Flick as Joshua Kimmich and Alphonso Davies were back among the first-team group having been laid low by a cold and an ankle knock respectively.

Following last weekend's 0-0 draw against second-place RB Leipzig, Bayern retain a slender one-point advantage as they pursue an eighth consecutive Bundesliga crown.

Flick's side resume their Champions League campaign with a last-16 trip to Chelsea on February 25.

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