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For the vast majority of this season, both Arsenal and Bayern Munich have utilised 4-2-3-1 formations.
However, there are key differences in how Arsene Wenger and Jupp Heynckes employ their tactics.
Both managers are vastly experienced and recognise that the game begins and ends with their full-backs.
The modern game has developed around their use of the ball and most attacks are initiated by the full-backs, who also dictate the line of the defence and angle of cover while defending.
At Bayern, Heynckes probably possesses the best full-back combination in world football in club and German international captain Philipp Lahm and 20-year-old Austrian Footballer of the Year David Alaba.
The two players are everything a modern full-back should be. They are energetic, comfortable on the ball and above all else they are supreme defenders while also being capable attackers. However, the real secret behind their success is their partnerships with the players in front of them—Franck Ribery, Thomas Müller and Arjen Robben.
It is here that the beauty of Heynckes' wide 4-2-3-1 can be seen in its full light. Bayern congest the midfield through Toni Kroos, Bastian Schweinsteiger and the superb Luiz Gustavo and then release their wide players to do what they do best—expose their opponents.
Arsene Wenger will obviously be mindful of Bayern's style of play and while trying to counteract Heynckes' tactics, he will try to expose his opponent where his team is strongest too.
There can be little doubt that Arsenal's strengths lie in overloading midfield through the triumvirate of Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere and the sublime Santi Cazorla. Through these three players the Gunners are capable of dictating the tempo against any side.
They do play much narrower than Bayern and this contrast can be seen best where the Bundesliga side attack through the flanks, while Arsenal tend to attack to the flank before coming inside.
This small change makes the Gunners narrow when defending and solely relying upon their full-backs, Bacary Sagna and possibly Kieran Gibbs, to provide the width. In this way Arsenal keep a constant pressure across midfield, a la Barcelona, and essentially end up with a fluid 2-4-3-1 formation.
The problem with this, their primary tactic, against Bayern is that Heynckes' side are amongst the very best at counterattacking in the world. In this regard Arteta is going to become Arsenal's most important player over the two legs.
The contest will be fascinating and the football is guaranteed to be good, but when push comes to shove Bayern should shade the fixture as they are better overall.
Player for player Bayern have more quality throughout and a quick look at the potential starting teams reveals a slight shade in quality toward last season's beaten finalists.
Possible Starting Teams
(GK) Szczesny - (GK) Neuer
(RB) Sagna - (RB) Lahm
(LB) Gibbs - (LB) Alaba
(CB) Mertesacker - (CB) Martinez
(CB) Vermaelen - (CB) Dante
(CM) Arteta - (CM) Gustavo
(CM) Wilshere - (CM) Schweinsteiger
(CM) Cazorla - (CM) Kroos
(RM) Gervinho - (RM) Müller
(LM) Podolski - (LM) Ribery
(CF) Giroud - (CF) Gomez
On their day Arsenal does have the potential to cause the best sides problems. But they also have the same potential to implode—such is their fragile character. Bayern have been in this position far too often to allow it to colour their style, tactics or disposition. When all is said and done the team with the best players usually win—especially when they have a mental attitude like Die Bayern.