Villarreal v Bayern Munich
Villarreal are enjoying their first campaign in Europe’s top-tier competition for the first time since 2011/12, where they finished pointless in a tough pool featuring Man City, Napoli and Bayern themselves. This time around they benefited from a kinder group against an underperforming Man Utd, an Atalanta side that are down in seventh place in Serie A after finishing third in each of the past three seasons, as well as Swiss outfit Young Boys. They did claim a scalp as they overcame Juventus 4-1 on aggregate in the last 16, though that still leaves them having scored just 16 goals in the Champions League this season – the second-lowest tally of the teams left in the competition.
Bayern bagged eight goals in the last round alone against Salzburg, and have managed 30 goals in total this season – the most of any team. The Bavarians also possess the joint-best defensive record, conceding just five times, demonstrating just how better equipped the visitors are to compete at this level.
Bayern have already put Spanish opposition to the sword this term as they thrashed Barcelona 3-0 both home and away in the group stages, leaving them unbeaten in seven against such teams (W5-D2). Head coach Julian Nagelsmann has already demonstrated that he can handle a defensive-minded Spanish side at this level, knocking out Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid en route to the semi-finals in 2019/20 when in charge of Leipzig.
Unai Emery may possess an outstanding record in the Europa League, and will no doubt set his team up to frustrate. However, Villarreal don’t enter this fixture in the best of form, losing three of their past five outings, including back-to-back defeats to Cadiz and Levante in their last two to leave them down in seventh domestically, a full six points adrift of sixth-placed Real Sociedad.
Bayern are now W26-D2-L1 in the Champions League since 2019/20, with 20 of those victories coming by a minimum two-goal margin, as they last suffered defeat on the road in this competition in the group stages of the 2017/18 campaign at PSG. However, of Villarreal’s 12 defeats this season, all but one has finished either 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1, while nine of them have come away from home, so we’d expect any Bayern victory to be fairly modest in proportions.
BAYERN TO WIN AND UNDER 3.5 GOALS
Chelsea v Real Madrid
Real Madrid were set to bow out before a second-half Karim Benzema hat-trick bailed them out in their second leg against PSG, but there’s no doubt this team possesses plenty of experience at this level. Although this may not be as impressive a side as the one that dominated this competition between 2013/14 and 17/18, lifting the trophy in four out of five seasons, they remain a highly competitive outfit and are easing their way to the La Liga title this term.
Reigning champions Chelsea also possess the necessary experience in this competition, and while the future ownership of the club remains up in the air, there’s no doubt they’ll be a threat this time around. Both sides enter this fixture in reasonable form, sharing an identical record of six wins from their past seven outings. Both also suffered a heavy defeat along the way, with Real downed 4-0 by Barcelona, while Chelsea suffered a surprisingly 4-1 loss hosting Brentford at the weekend.
The Blues should overcome that disappointment having only suffered two defeats from their last 21 Champions League matches (W15-D4-L2), with both of these narrow 1-0 losses. Clean sheets have been at the heart of their success over this period, keeping 14 across these 21 games. Excluding clashes with much weaker outfits Krasnodar, Rennes, Zenit, Malmo and Lille, nine of the 11 games over this period saw fewer than three goals, while 10 of them saw at least one team fail to score.
At least one team has failed to score in each of Real Madrid’s past nine on the road in this competition, while the only two of these games that saw more than two goals were comfortable victories over lesser outfits Shakhtar Donetsk and Sheriff Tiraspol. They do however hold a poor recent record away to the top teams in this competition. In trips to elite sides Ajax, PSG, Man City, Inter, Liverpool, and Chelsea, they’re just W3-D1-L4 since 2019, with each of those three victories coming over the weakest of those sides (Inter and Ajax). Limiting this sample to the other teams, they managed to score just once across five away days.
BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE (NO)
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