Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Bayern Munich likely to dazzle Arsenal


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German side have won 22 of their 24 games and drawn the other two in the Bundesliga
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger addresses the media at Allianz Arena in Munich ahead of the Champions League round of 16 second leg match in Munich,. Photograph: Lennart Preiss/Bongarts/Getty Images
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger addresses the media at Allianz Arena in Munich ahead of the Champions
League round of 16 second leg match in Munich,. Photograph: Lennart Preiss/Bongarts/Getty Images
For Arsene Wenger, the lesson of history is unkind. There have been only two occasions in the 21 years of the Champions League when a team have made it into the next round after losing the home leg first.
Ajax managed it against Panathinaikos in 1996 and Internazionale did it against Bayern Munich in 2011.
Where to start with Arsenal’s opponents? The Bundesliga, perhaps, where they have won 22 of their 24 games, drawn the other two and could conceivably wrap up another title by the end of March.No team, however, has ever managed it from a two-goal deficit – never mind trying to do so against the five-time champions, currently steamrollering everyone in sight.
Bayern have scored 24 times in their last five matches in Germany. They are 20 points clear, with a goal difference of +61, and it is almost 18 months since they lost a domestic game at the Allianz Arena.
Pep Guardiola’s side are unbeaten in 49 Bundesliga fixtures, on a 16-game winning streak, and Manuel Neuer has conceded only three goals in 2014.
For Arsenal to to have any chance of succeeding they need two things. First, one of the more coherent performances any Wenger side has put together in the modern era.
In that case, Wenger said, “it is possible, that is the most important thing. I believe that my team has quality and ambition. We can do it.”
Yet the second point is that, even playing at the point of maximum expression, Arsenal will need Bayern to lapse into the carelessness evident when Wenger’s team won 2-0 in Munich last season.
Bayern, with a 3-1 lead from the first leg, were guilty of some rare complacency that night and it was the same again when they let a two-goal lead slip against Manchester City in the group stages this season, losing 3-2.
“We got a bit complacent because we had grown so used to winning,” Thomas Muller said. “That was a warning to us.”
The problem for Arsenal is a team of Bayern’s knowhow and experience are unlikely to make the same mistake again.
Guardiola issued exactly the same warning and, though Wenger sounded like he meant absolutely everything he said, it was not altogether convincing that he had to go back over 10 years to argue his point.

Patient“The statistics are against us but we won 5-1 against Inter at San Siro [in November 2003],” Wenger said. “I would also say we have won everywhere in Europe. We scored two goals in the last five minutes against Everton [on Saturday]so we don’t have to be nervous. We can be patient. We just have to focus on the quality of our game.”
Wenger has to make his players believe this is not Mission Impossible but Inter finished fourth in Serie A that season, 23 points off the top, and did not make it out of the group stages of the Champions League. That was the year of Arsenal’s Invincibles, with a front three in San Siro of Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and Kanu.
The Irish Times

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