A Pre-Champions League Warning to Arsenal: Bayern Munich Are in Unstoppable Form
Bayern Munich made it five wins from five Bundesliga matches to start the 2013 calendar year on Friday, as they beat Wolfsburg 2-0 at the Volkswagen Arena. The German league leaders only managed to take eight shots on Diego Benaglio's goal, but that didn't stop them from earning a comfortable victory.
Mario Mandzukic scored from a brilliant volley in the 36th minute and substitute Arjen Robben stabbed home a late second goal as Bayern strolled to victory with very little difficulty. Indeed, only a Diego free kick proved a real test for Manuel Neuer, and the Germany No. 1 saved his opponent's effort well.
Diego's shot was a very, very rare instance of danger on the Bayern goal, which has yet to be breached in the calendar year. So strong are Die Roten in defense that in last Saturday's 4-0 win against Schalke, Neuer even turned his back to action on the pitch and helped substitute Thomas Mueller warm up.
In the Bundesliga this season, Bayern have conceded just seven goals. On their current pace, that means 11 (rounding up from 10.8) goals allowed by the end of May. The Bundesliga record stands at 21.
It really is incredible how dramatically this Bayern team has rebounded from their 2011 Champions League humiliation at the hands of Inter. Two seasons ago, the Bavarians blew a 3-1 aggregate lead at home in the second leg, conceding twice in the final half hour as they were eliminated from Europe's elite club competition.
Since then, the additions of Manuel Neuer and Dante have been extremely influential, as has the emergence of David Alaba at left-back. But most important has been the role of head coach Jupp Heynckes, who has found a tactical balance that suits the club in their week-to-week pursuits.
Their football may not be as attractive as it was under Louis van Gaal, but Bayern are certainly much, much more stable and effective in the Heynckes era. Since the beginning of the 2011-12 season, Bayern have conceded just 29 goals. The closest among all teams in Europe's top leagues is Juventus, with 36.
The good news for Arsenal is that Bayern will not, in all likelihood, run the score up against them at the Emirates in next Tuesday's Champions League Round of 16 clash. Main striker Mario Mandzukic has yet to score in the Champions League this season, and Bayern play a rather conservative game. A low-scoring win or even an away goal or two in a draw would suit them just fine.
If there is any hope from fans in England that the 60,361 or so supporters will give Arsenal the edge, however, that may be extinguished with a glance at Bayern's record away from home. In the Bundesliga, they have won 10-of-11 matches, scoring 27 goals and conceding just once.
There is a first time for everything, of course, and perhaps Bayern will concede on Tuesday. They may even meet their match at the Emirates against an Arsenal side that indeed has a great deal of class. Just don't bet on it.
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