'Repeating Champions League triumph will be mission impossible for Chelsea' – Souness

Graeme Souness – a European Cup-winning captain for Liverpool in the 1980s – believes Chelsea have no chance of retaining their European title if they stick with the same counter-attacking tactics they employed successfully last season.

The Blues won their first ever Champions League crown last May, but Souness reckons that feat was the luckiest ever in the history of the competition.
 
“Chelsea got away with it last season and they cannot approach it the same way this time,” the former Rangers, Liverpool and Newcastle manager told reporters.
 
“It is impossible. Nobody in the history of football has ever had that much luck.
 
“Chelsea fans have enjoyed the memory of lifting the cup, but they wouldn’t have enjoyed the Barca and Bayern games while they were taking place.”
 
Club owner Roman Abramovich has again spent big this summer, with the 40 million signing of Eden Hazard from Lille a major signal of intent for the Blues to build on last season’s success.
 
However, Souness maintains that Chelsea have no chance of becoming the first team to retain the Champions League unless they play in a more positive manner – and Fernando Torres scores the goals that departed club legend Didier Drogba contributed.
 
He added: “Roberto Di Matteo can’t plan to repeat last season. Fair play to him for playing to Chelsea’s strengths, but I have concerns for Chelsea in all competitions this season because their get-out-of-jail-card, Didier Drogba, is playing his football in China.
 
“Even if Drogba hasn’t been able to do it for 90 minutes in recent years, how often did he save them by popping up with the vital goal, like he did in the final?
 
“I am hoping Fernando Torres can step up to the mark but they are some boots to fill, Drogba was the best centre-forward of his type anywhere. Torres is playing with a bit more confidence now, he seems to be one of those players who needs to be loved to produce his best. But will he ever get back to his Liverpool best? I’m not sure.”
 
Chelsea begin their defence of the biggest prize in club football when they face Italian champions Juventus at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening.

Bayern Munich's Heynckes heartened by victory over Mainz

Bayern Munich continued their perfect start to the season following their 3-1 demolition of Mainz, displaying a collective fervour in attack that coach Jupp Heynckes lauded.

Goals from Mario Mandzukic, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos ensured injured duo Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery were not missed, while the afternoon was made more special yet when summer signing Javi Martinez made his debut in the second half.

“We produced an excellent half-hour of football,” Heynckes told reporters. “The goals were truly outstanding.”

“The 3-1 victory was well deserved, especially after Javi Martinez came on, although we were too passive in the 15 minutes before the break.

“We played well going forward, and were very intelligent in our overall play nonetheless,” the 67-year-old concluded.

Last season’s Bundesliga runners-up will now hope to translate their scintillating domestic form to the continental stage, when they host Champions League opponents Valencia at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday.

Bayern Munich 3-1 Mainz: Mandzukic, Schweinsteiger and Kroos clinch victory

Bayern Munich maintained their place atop the Bundesliga with a 3-1 victory over Mainz at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.

Mario Mandzukic slotted the hosts into the lead after only two minutes of play, before Bastian Schweinsteiger doubled their advantage with a header just before the quarter hour mark.

What threatened to be a demolition job never occured though, as despite large spells of Bayern pressure, Mainz were able to work themselves back into the game.

Adam Szalai handed the visitors hope with a penalty in the 59th minute, but there was no more to come from the visitors, as Kroos scored with a well-taken volley in stoppage time to wrap up the points for the hosts.

There was no place in the matchday squad for Arjen Robben and Frank Ribery, with both players sitting out the match after picking up injuries last week. However, Bayern barely noticed the absence of their wing wizards, as they raced into the lead after only two minutes.

Thomas Muller did the hard work, racing onto a loose ball at the edge of the box and squaring to Mandzukic, who made no mistake in front of an unguarded net.

The home side looked to move forward through the flanks, as they peppered the Mainz goal with a host of crosses from out wide. This avenue of attack brought reward in the 13th minute as Schweinsteiger put them two goals ahead.

Badstuber was the supplier, whipping in an inch-perfect cross into the heart of the area that the midfielder attacked, unmarked, to head home.

All signs pointed to a thrashing in the making, but Bayern did not seem in any rush to add to their two goal cushion, instead finding comfort in keeping the visitors trapped chasing shadows in their own half, without really finding the cutting edge of the opening exchanges.

The inevitability of their situation perhaps prompted Thomas Tuchel to make a double switch in the 37th minute, as Szalai and Elkin Soto were thrown on for Marcel Risse and Marco Caligiuri in a bid to provide more thrust up front.

The visitors were able to raise their game slightly, but despite fashioning a few relatively promising openings, they never managed to call Manuel Neuer into action as the first half drew to a close.

Their improvement continued into the second half, as they were able to cause some problems in the Bayern back four with spells of sustained pressure. And with just under an hour gone, their endeavour was rewarded as a moment of carelessness from Dante handed them a lifeline.

The Brazilian was late in challenging Baumgartlinger inside the area, leaving the referee with little choice but to award a penalty. Szalai sent Neuer the wrong to bring the visitors to within a goal.

Mainz’s tails were up as they persisted in attacking Bayern, but the hosts, despite their unsteady defense, always posed a danger on the counter. Mandzukic struck the woodwork after a scramble in the box, before both Muller and Shaqiri hit the side netting after getting on the end of a pair of promising breaks.

The Switzerland international was withdrawn soon after, with Javi Martinez coming on to solidify the midfield for the closing stages.

Claudio Pizarro also came off the bench late on, and almost added a third after being put clean through, but Wetklo was able to block his finish.

The third goal would come though, and it arrived via the boot of Kroos, who volleyed home expertly at the far post from Javi Martinez’s cross to add gloss to the scoreline with the last kick of the game.

Effenberg: Bayern are Champions League favourites

Former Germany star Stefan Effenberg feels that Bayern Munich have what it takes to go all the way in the Champions League this season.

The Bavarians made it to the final of European club football’s elite competition last term, where they were beaten by Chelsea on penalties, and Effenberg has stressed that winning the Champions League has to be their objective in 2012-13.

“The Bayern players had the chance of a lifetime to win the Champions League, but let it pass. This time they will have to aim for the trophy. That has to be the only objective,” Effenberg was quoted as saying by Kicker.

“Bayern should stroll their group and are one of the favourites to go all the way. They are getting a lot of respect throughout Europe, and deservedly so.”

Effenberg then discussed Borussia Dortmund’s chances in Europe and urged them to change their attacking style of play if they are to advance to the latter stages of the competition.

“They will not achieve their goals with their offensive gameplan. Perhaps Jurgen Klopp should change their style a bit. You simply cannot keep up that attacking style of play in such a tough group.

“The important thing is to have a plan B for occasions like this. You cannot hit the gas like they do every three or four days over the course of the season.”

Dortmund open their Champions League campaign against Ajax next week, and will also have to deal with Real Madrid and Manchester City.

Hoeness: I would never disparage Dortmund

Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness has retracted his earlier claims about Borussia Dortmund’s status in world football.

The former West Germany forward had claimed that the current Bundesliga champions were only significant on a local scale, while his own side are a global force.

His Dortmund counterpart Hans-Joachim Watzke was quick to demand respect from the Bavarians, and the 60-year-old has now insisted that he would never belittle the work of his club’s main rival.

“I would definitely not disparage any of the good work Dortmund do,” the 60-year-old said according to Bild.

Bayern and Dortmund have already met once this season, with Die Schwarzgelben losing 2-1 to the Bavarian giants in the DFL-Super Cup.