Chelsea vs Borussia Dortmund: Preview and Prediction
Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund will lock horns in the UEFA Champions League for the first time at Signal Iduna Park on Wednesday night, as the two behemoths square off for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.
BVB advanced to the knockout stages after coming in second place to Manchester City in Group G, while the Blues withstood AC Milan, Red Bull Salzburg, and Dinamo Zagreb to secure the top spot in Group E.
The German side hasn’t had the finest recent record in Europe against Premier League teams. In their last 10 matches against English teams, Dortmund has lost eight and drawn two games.
Their most recent success over an English club team came in the UEFA Europa League in March 2016, when they overcame Tottenham Hotspur (2-1) on the road in London. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, now a striker for Chelsea, scored both of their goals on that occasion.
Chelsea has undoubtedly seen better days. Since their World Cup return, the Blues have managed just one win out of their last eight domestic appearances and have scored just six goals.
Despite spending heavily in the recently concluded transfer window, Chelsea sits in the ninth spot in the Premier League and are 10 points adrift of a top-four spot, insinuating that only winning the Champions League might guarantee them a place in the European competition next season.
Chelsea had a tough start to their group-stage campaign earlier this season, and Thomas Tuchel’s tenure as manager came to an end with a shocking 1-0 loss to Dinamo Zagreb. The Blues recovered under Potter’s guidance, though, and won their final four matches to take first place in Group E ahead of AC Milan, who finished in second.
Since winning 2-1 away against Red Bull Salzburg on October 25, Chelsea has gone nine games without a victory on the trot in all competitions. They face Dortmund on Wednesday, and only three of their previous 11 away games against German opposition have ended in victories for Chelsea.
On the flip side, Dortmund has been in sublime form since the conclusion of the FIFA World Cup. With only eight points separating the top six teams with 14 games left, Dortmund is still in the thick of the title fight and now sits third in the Bundesliga table.
Interestingly, the Signal Iduna Park has been somewhat of a fortress for the Yellow Wall as they have lost just four out of their last 21 matches in European competitions at home. However, English teams have been an Achilles heel for the German outfit, as they’ve failed to win any of their last 10 such games in European competition including eight defeats.
Dortmund managed to finish above both Sevilla and Copenhagen in the Champions League group stage earlier this season despite only winning two of their six games. They will now try to defeat a directionless Chelsea team over two legs in an effort to advance to the quarterfinals for just the third time in the previous nine seasons.
Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund will be squaring off in the UEFA Champions League for the first time ever.
Chelsea has a long list of injured first-team players. The list includes N’Golo Kante, Christian Pulisic, Armando Broja and Edouard Mendy, while Aubameyang, Benoit Badiashile, Noni Madueke, David Datro Fofana, and Andrey Santos are all unavailable after being left out of Graham Potter’s Champions League squad.
However, Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly, Wesley Fofana, and Mateo Kovacic might finally return to the roster after their respective injuries.
Youssoufa Moukoko, a promising prospect for Borussia Dortmund, was forced off against Bremen due to an injury and is now questionable for Wednesday’s game; Sebastian Haller or Anthony Modeste are therefore set to lead the line for the German giants.
While Marius Wolf, Abdoulaye Kamara and Mateu Morey are all ruled out, Thomas Meunier has returned from a muscle strain and might start as the right-back.
Predicted Starting XIs
Borussia Dortmund (4-2-3-1): Gregor Kobel; Julian Ryerson, Mats Hummels, Nico Schlotterbeck, Raphael Guerreiro; Jude Bellingham, Emre Can; Karim Adeyemi, Marco Reus, Julian Brandt; Sebastien Haller
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Kepa Arrizabalaga; Reece James, Thiago Silva, Kalidou Koulibaly, Ben Chilwell; Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Enzo Fernandez; Mason Mount, Joao Felix, Mykhailo Mudryk; Kai Havertz
Clearly, Borussia Dortmund will be at a psychological disadvantage after having lost all of their last 10 games against English teams in European competitions. However, Dortmund is on a six-game winning streak and enters Wednesday night’s clash with a lot of optimism.
Graham Potter might try to use Chelsea’s Champions League clash against Dortmund as a springboard for better results in the upcoming fixtures. Sadly, with an array of players out injured and several returning from injury, Chelsea, too, might find themselves in turbulent waters.