Michael Ballack has no doubt Bayern Munich will tackle Lazio in a professional manner when their Champions League campaign resumes this week.

European champions Bayern are aiming to take the next step towards back-to-back continental crowns when they travel to Rome for the first leg of a last-16 tie on Tuesday.

Hansi Flick's men have been in poor form since their return from winning the Club World Cup in Qatar, slipping to a 2-1 defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt on the back of a 3-3 draw at home to Bundesliga strugglers Arminia Bielefeld.

Nevertheless, Ballack feels focus will be sharpened once more when Bayern are faced with Simone Inzaghi's side, who lie fifth in Serie A.

"The papers make it clear who the favourites are to win this game. But that sometimes makes it dangerous," Ballack told Stats Perform News.

"Although you have to say that with Bayern Munich, their focus, structure and mentality will make it impossible to underestimate their opponent.

"This will be two games where I think they will be able to go through. The togetherness is clear, and their form is getting better again.

"That's why I think that Bayern will progress to the next round."

Experience could prove crucial, with Bayern into the knockout rounds for a 13th consecutive campaign.

In 12 of the previous 14 seasons they have progressed to at least the quarter-finals.

Germany should only call up Bayern Munich sensation Jamal Musiala if he "really wants" to change allegiances, according to former captain Michael Ballack.

After making his debut in June 2020, Bayern teenager Musiala has become a regular fixture in the Bundesliga champions' first-team squad, featuring in 15 games and scoring three goals this season.

The 17-year-old switched from Chelsea's youth academy to Bayern in July 2019 - aged 16 - before becoming Bayern's youngest ever senior player and their youngest goalscorer. 

Born in Stuttgart to a German mother and an English-Nigerian father, Musiala moved to London aged seven and represented England from Under-15 to U21 levels, as well as Germany U16s.

Although he last played for England against Albania in November 2020, Musiala remains eligible for both nations and it has been reported that a tug-of-war has been ongoing for some time.

The highly rated youngster has reportedly been contacted by England manager Gareth Southgate and Germany head coach Joachim Low, but Ballack insisted Musiala should only play for Die Mannschaft if he is fully committed.

"We talk about the German national team. It should consist of players that meet the requirements and really want to play for this team," Ballack, who earned 98 caps for Germany, told Stats Perform News.

"It also needs to meet the rules and everything else needs to be decided from the national coach."

Michael Ballack has challenged Kai Havertz to "take on the fight" and make sure his slow start at Chelsea is soon forgotten.

Havertz became Chelsea's most expensive outfield player in September when he joined for around £70million from Bayer Leverkusen, but there has been little return on that investment.

He has appeared in 18 Premier League games, starting 12 times, but has just one goal and two assists to date.

The Germany midfielder has only created one goalscoring opportunity defined by Opta as a 'big chance', and he has been substituted off eight times already.

In 30 Bundesliga games for Leverkusen last term, Havertz scored 12 times, provided six assists and created 15 big chances.

Ballack, who had two spells with Leverkusen and also spent four years at Chelsea, can appreciate the difficulty Havertz has found in adapting to a different league and said the price tag "isn't his fault".

His view is that Chelsea must help Havertz, but that the 21-year-old must also help himself.

"It is important for Chelsea to understand that if you buy a player with that kind of potential, then you have to give him time, bit by bit," Ballack told Stats Perform News.

"So he can be in that role and that the team can be built around him.

"At the moment there are too many players that fight for many positions. There are only a few players that are so to speak 'untouchable'.

"Therefore he now faces a normal competitive scenario. It just depends on him, if he is able to win it.

"He needs that will, but if he sees it and takes on the fight then he will be able to get that spot as he has exceptional football qualities.

"However it is a different level than at Leverkusen. Therefore he has to live with it."

Germany great Ballack, 44, believes the recent arrival of head coach Thomas Tuchel to replace Frank Lampard could help Havertz find his feet in England.

The failure of Havertz and Timo Werner to make an instant impact at Chelsea no doubt contributed to Lampard losing his job, given both were major acquisitions and neither has lived up to expectations.

Ballack says fellow German Tuchel will be able to "communicate exceptionally" with Havertz, pointing to the style of Chelsea's play this season as being a factor in why the once-marauding Bundesliga star has proven less effective in the Premier League.

"At Leverkusen, they forced the game onto him with a lot of freedom. He didn't have to chase the ball and was used to attack," Ballack said.

"He probably has some issues now with the rhythm. That means, the game is a bit different. He now also has to work back and work harder on pressuring the opponent."

Werner, meanwhile, was bought in the expectation he would be a regular goalscorer, yet he last netted in the Premier League on November 7, in a 4-1 win over Sheffield United.

This weekend sees Chelsea play the South Yorkshire side again, and Ballack is sure former RB Leipzig frontman Werner is on the brink of getting it right in front of goal. 

"Timo started off pretty well. Of course, if you aren't scoring as a striker, then it is hard on the self-confidence," Ballack said.

"I believe, that it is very hard for him overall, as he was used to playing differently at Leipzig.

"He had a lot more space in front of him. Chelsea is the kind of team that has a lot of ball possession, wanting to dominate the opponent. Maybe even more so with Tuchel."

As with Havertz, Ballack suggests the onus is on Werner to adapt and find a way to become a greater threat to defences.

"Maybe he has to work on his playing style a little bit or try to get himself into better positions," Ballack said.

"As a striker you are depending on your fellow players to find you and if the [goal drought] breaks, then he will be able to find his old form.

"He used to have good phases with the national team, using his physical presence and power to break down on the wing.

"So when the [drought] breaks, then things will go better again."

Thomas Tuchel will not prove difficult for the hierarchy at Chelsea to deal with and could define an era at Stamford Bridge, according to Michael Ballack.

Chelsea appointed Tuchel in January after dismissing Frank Lampard following a run of two wins in eight Premier League matches.

The 47-year-old German had been sacked by Paris Saint-Germain in December following a public falling out with sporting director Leonardo, and before that he left Borussia Dortmund following a breakdown in relations with club CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke.

However, former Chelsea midfielder Ballack does not anticipate a repeat of the same issues in west London for Tuchel, who has won twice and drawn once in his first three games in charge.

Ballack told Stats Perform News: "I believe that the people at Chelsea intensely thought about who could succeed Frank. He was a younger and less experienced coach. Now there is Tuchel who isn't really much older but someone who had a lot more experience managing big clubs. He already has proven what he can do.

"Personally, I wouldn't say that he is hard to handle. I believe that Thomas Tuchel has precise ideas of how he wants to play and he communicates that.

"He has shown at PSG that he can work with tough characters. Some people might not have believed it at first. He reached the Champions League final and so forth. He has proven that he can reach the target at various levels.

"Chelsea is a completely new environment. I don't think that he will get into a conflict with his superiors, as he can work fairly quiet. I know that from personal experience.

"Of course, the requirements are now a lot higher. As Frank had to find out. As long as he can win games, he can get himself some space. Maybe he'll become the manager to implement his ideas in the long run, to maybe define an era at Chelsea."

Tuchel is the 12th permanent Chelsea boss since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003 and Ballack thinks the burden of expectation weighs heavily on whoever is in the dugout, with a spend of over £200million on reinforcements for this season playing a significant part.

"Chelsea have to be criticised that they aren't famous for their continuity regarding their managers. This is also due to the immense pressure from the club to have success, that is weighing down on everyone. Especially the coach," said Ballack.

"With that budget and the investments that are made in form of player transfers, there is automatically a form of pressure.

"Frank suffered from that because he slipped out of these positions [the top four] temporarily. He was therefore directly under pressure and in return lost his job.

"After those transfers in the summer Chelsea were under pressure. Frank had to feel that. I believe that Frank is enough of a professional to know what he can expect when signing at his club, in which he was valued highly."

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