Arsenal will be looking to pull off the impossible when they take on Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in their UEFA Champions League round of 16 match this week.
The North London club were soundly beaten by the German powerhouse 3-1 in the opening leg—giving the Bavarians a huge advantage heading into their home match here. And, judging by the dominance that they showed in the opening leg, Bayern should have no problems chalking up another win here.
Having said all of that, this is the Champions League and incredible comebacks do happen—the latest of which happened with Barcelona on Tuesday.
Arsenal will no doubt take heart from that, and having shown they can be an attacking threat this season, will definitely carry hope with them into Germany. Yet it will be a huge ask for Arsene Wenger's men, and one that, for the moment anyway, seems to be an incredibly unlikely prospect.
Can the Gunners pull off a Champions League miracle or will it be Bayern moving through to the quarterfinals after this one? Read on for a full preview of the match including all the important details, viewing information, key match facts, analysis and predictions.
Date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Start time: 3:45 p.m. ET (7:45 p.m. British time)
Venue: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Live Stream and TV Info
FOX Deportes, SiriusXM FC and the Fox Soccer Channel will all show coverage of this Champions League match throughout the United States. According to Live Soccer TV, Sky Go, BBC Radio 5 Live, and Sky Sports 2/HD will do the same throughout the United Kingdom.
First Leg Recap: Arsenal 1, Bayern Munich 3
Arsenal were simply blown away by their German opponents in the first leg at the Emirates Stadium, with Bayern showcasing just how clinical they can be.
The German side were particularly dominant down the left-hand side (due to absence of regular left-defender Kieran Gibbs, who will again be missing from this one) and were able to score two goals inside the first half to hold a commanding lead in the match.
The Gunners would be gifted a lifeline, however, when Manuel Neuer's mis-communication with Bayern's defense gifted Lukas Podolski the simplest of goals from a corner. Given how few goals Bayern Munich are conceding this season in various competitions, that goal could well turn out to be a telling factor for the London club in their quest for the impossible.
A final goal for the visitors gave them a deserved 3-1 win on the night and a huge lead to take back to Germany for the return leg. Arsenal were simply dominated through the middle of the field and struggled heavily defending Bayern's right-hand side attack throughout.
They'll definitely need to improve that in the return leg—as they will their counterattacking play—with key injuries seemingly denting their chances at building a goal through the middle. Not that it would have been easy, anyway, given Bayern's frugalness in defense.
What They're Saying
Much has been made about the need for Arsenal to still believe that their chances of winning this match are indeed possible. Captain Thomas Vermaelen—who will likely be played out of position at left defender again—urged his team to dig deep for this one (per The Telegraph):
We owe the manager. We want to give him something back because he gives us confidence and belief. We go into this game to win and get through. Last year against Milan we almost did it and most people thought it was impossible.’
In football anything can happen. Of course it’s difficult but we believe in it and football is a strange sport. We always take it personally. You have to keep going and not care too much about what people say.
Bayern Munich manager Jupp Heynckes was also very aware of the danger that Arsenal still represent here, given Arsene Wenger as their manager.
Arsène Wenger has not just brought success to Arsenal. He is a very creative manager, producing almost fantasy football. The football they have played is fantastic year after year. For me in the last 10 to 15 years he has been one of the best managers in Europe.
I know with certainty they will come to the Allianz Arena and give everything to get a result. Last year Arsenal lost to AC Milan 4-0 and in the second leg they won it 3-0 and could have scored a fourth due to the chances they had.
Wenger indicated that his team would be looking to attack Bayern, but also stated that they must still be considered in how they attack (per BBC Sport):
We have to have a real go without being silly.We want to be positive but as well, be intelligent. We have to create doubt in their mind and you only do that by starting really strong. The chance you have comes if you make them insecure rather than the feeling of certainty they have...
Three Facts to Consider
18. Bayern Munich have scored 18 goals in their seven 2013 Champions League games so far, more than any other team in the competition.
1. Arsenal have only kept one clean sheet in their past 23 Champions League matches away from home. As a result, they also have the worst defensive record among the 16 teams that started the round of 16 having conceded 11 goals in the tournament to date.
20. The last English team to beat Bayern Munich in Germany (excluding penalties) came 20 years ago in October, 1993 with Norwich City defeating Bayern in a UEFA Cup match.
It's almost impossible to see Bayern Munich dropping this one at home—regardless of the two-goal advantage that they also have over the visitors.
Arsenal are going to need to score at least three times to challenge the Bavarians as a result here and, given Bayern's defensive solidity this season, that simply isn't going to happen. Not against the Gunners' attacking unit, anyway.
Having said that, Arsenal will look to get after their opponents here, and when they look to attack directly this season, have produced some scintillating results. Four goals in 10 minutes against West Ham earlier in 2013 is testament to that, and they'll be looking to do the same here.
Granted they'll be up a much tougher defense with far less familiar surroundings, but the Gunners still definitely stand a chance at being an attacking threat to Bayern here—so much so that the North London club will end up putting the ball into the back of the net.
Yet I can't see them doing that often enough to win this one, and I can't see them keeping out Bayern from doing the same at the other end of the field.
I'd say a relatively quiet first half is marked by a quick goal to either side just after the interval, which allows Bayern to simply sit back and enjoy their lead.
Arsenal will do well to hang on for the draw, but it's a matter of three weeks too late for the London club who seem destined to go trophy-less in 2013.
Final score: Bayern Munich 1, Arsenal 1
(Bayern Munich win 4-2 on aggregate)
What do you see happening in this key Champions League match?
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