Michael Ballack Backs Bayern Munich to Beat Chelsea in UCL Last 16

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2020

DORTMUND, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 07: Michael Ballack of Roman and Friends looks on during the Roman Weidenfeller Farewell Match between BVB Allstars and Roman and Friends at Signal Iduna Park on September 7, 2018 in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

Michael Ballack believes Bayern Munich have "a big advantage" over Chelsea ahead of the upcoming UEFA Champions League last-16 tie between two of his former clubs.

Bayern visit Stamford Bridge for the first leg on February 25, with the return scheduled for March 18 at the Allianz Arena.

A run of seven games unbeaten in the Bundesliga has seen Bayern move to the top of the table, and they look to be finding form at the ideal time under interim manager Hansi Flick:

Bundesliga English @Bundesliga_EN

The race for the top isn't showing any signs of slowing down 🏁 #BundesligaMD21 https://t.co/UrAz19Przd

Frank Lampard's young Chelsea side, meanwhile, have won just one of their last five Premier League games and are in danger of dropping out the top four:

Premier League @premierleague

It’s getting tight at the bottom 👀 #PL https://t.co/x6eOUK8hwL

Ballack believes Lampard's inexperience managing at the highest level and the inexperience of his side will give Bayern a major edge when the two sides meet, per Goal's James Westwood:

"Bayern are favourites, for many reasons. Experience speaks strongly in their favour. Chelsea's transfer ban has compelled them to put their faith in young players. Their manager is new and inexperienced in his job, and that is a big advantage for Bayern. The performance levels of Bayern's players are another plus for them. They are more stable than they were last autumn."

Ballack, 43, played alongside Lampard in Chelsea's midfield between 2006 and 2010 after his four-year spell at Bayern. He enjoyed great success at both clubs, winning a combined 12 major trophies, including three Bundesliga titles and a Premier League.

During the decade Ballack was at his peak, Bayern and Chelsea were both among Europe's elite and regularly made the latter stages of the Champions League.

Chelsea's star has fallen a little of late.

The Blues won the Premier League in 2016-17, but they have missed out on Champions League football in two of the last four seasons and haven't got past the last-16 stage since 2013-14.

Bayern, meanwhile, are seven-time defending champions in the Bundesliga, and though they were beaten by Liverpool in the first knockout round of the Champions League last term, they reached the semi-finals in four of the five preceding seasons.