Bright lights, Champions League nights!
It’s the UCL round of 16 and Borussia Dortmund welcomes Chelsea FC to Germany’s Coliseum of Sport, the Arena of Action, the Westfalenstadion. An exciting encounter awaits as a red-hot BVB face a Chelsea side who have struggled for form, despite some incredibly expensive and high-profile additions in the winter transfer window. Dortmund will look to build on their good run of form and prove that they can do it across all competitions, with a win in the Cup, the League, and the UCL all in the span of a week. Chelsea, on the other hand, will be motivated to recover some pride and steady the ship after a string of unsatisfactory results, having won only once in their last eight matches. The South West London side will know, however, that Dortmund have successfully stifled Premier League opposition once already this season, and they have the tools to do so again.
BVB are without Youssoufa Moukoko following his ankle injury at the weekend. Edin Terzic was able to rotate significantly in the win over Werder Bremen, and with Adeyemi returning to the side, a familiar BVB is likely to take the field against the Blues.
I expect Edin Terzic to adopt a similar approach to taming Chelsea’s firepower as he did against Manchester City; a rock-solid base with careful and calculated attacking moves when the opportunity is right. Fielding Őzcan and Can can be overly conservative at times, but Chelsea’s stars will take their opportunities to punish any laziness at the back from BVB, and the midfield must be prepared to work hard for the full 90 minutes.
Player to Watch: Joao Felix
Portugal’s prodigal son has lost a bit of prestige in recent times, with a somewhat lackluster World Cup performance following an uneven season at Atletico Madrid, though this was more the fault of the team than the player. There is no doubt, however, that Joao Felix is a wildly talented forward and potential game-changer, whose ability to move the ball and create an opportunity is always a threat to the opposition. Dortmund have faced talented forwards all season though; Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala are exceptional in their own right. The defense will need to be equally aware of the threat posed by Joao Felix, and any midfield lapses or poorly tracked runs will send Dortmund right back to the Hindrunde and Felix knee-sliding toward the corner flag.
Dortmund are eager to continue their hot streak, while Chelsea are eager to end their cold one. Because both teams have so much to play for, I expect a hotly contested match to end in favor of the hosts, with Borussia Dortmund coming away with a 2-1 win, leaving plenty to play for in the second leg.