Bayern Munich will welcome Arsenal to the Allianz Arena this week, supremely confident that they will be progressing through in the 2013 Champions League.
Having beaten the London club 3-1 at the Emirates in the first leg, Bayern will hold a two-goal advantage heading into their home game here. And given their dominance in both attack and defense throughout domestic and European competition thus far, it's hard to see them dropping that lead at home.
However, having said all of that, Arsenal are a good attacking team on their day and will back themselves to challenge the German side at home here.
Can they threaten the Bavarians enough to warrant any sense of fear? Or is this one simply wrapped up and all but finalized for the German powerhouse?
We'll soon find out the answers to those questions, so read on for a full preview of this match including all the important viewing details and last-minute predictions.
Date: Wednesday March 13, 2013
Start time: 3:45 p.m. ET (7:45 p.m. British time)
Venue: Allianz Arena, Munich
Live Stream and TV Information
Per Live Soccer TV, FOX Deportes, SiriusXM FC and the Fox Soccer Channel will all show coverage of this fixture throughout the United States. Sky Go, BBC Radio 5 Live, and Sky Sports 2/HD will do the same in the United Kingdom.
Click here for a full preview of this Champions League match.
Three Questions to Ponder
1. Can Arsenal sure up their defense once more?
Arsenal simply had no answers to Bayern Munich's attack in the opening leg, and they suffered a big defeat as a result of that. They did not get to Philipp Lahm out on the right fast enough and allowed the likes of Thomas Muller far too much time in the middle to operate.
Thomas Vermaelen will likely take over at left-back once more for the injured Kieran Gibbs, and he has a huge role to play for the Gunners in this one. If he can shut down the right and turn it from a Bayern attacking channel into an Arsenal stronghold, then this game could truly open up.
Bacary Sagna must do the same out on the right here.
2. How will Jack Wilshere's absence affect the Gunners?
Midfielder Jack Wilshere has been, at times, the lone bright spark for the Gunners this year, and he was their only good player against Bayern in the opening leg. That might sound harsh, but in a side that was simply outplayed from whistle to whistle, Wilshere was superb.
His absence from this fixture due to injury is a huge blow for the Gunners, and how his absence will affect the North London club remains to be seen. It's hard to think that it will be a positive for them, but it could well be, in that it allows Arsenal to be much more direct in their attack.
The London club are going to need to try and get after the Germans early here and get an early goal on the board like Barcelona did to Milan on Tuesday. Without that, the home side will have the advantage on their side, and that could be enough to win them this one.
Arsenal must be direct in attack—even without Wilshere on hand.
3. Can Arsenal take their chances?
Olivier Giroud very nearly scored a volley with his first touch of the game against Bayern Munich, except that he hit it straight at Manuel Neuer. That might not seem like much, but going to Bayern down 3-2 would have been much different to 3-1, and the Gunners would no doubt love to have that goal now.
Arsenal's attack refuses to give up in any game of football, and it always seems to create chances. Thus it has to be expected to do the same again here, even against the might of the Bayern defense, but the key isn't necessarily creating chances for the Gunners.
The key—as it has been all season—is whether Arsenal can take their chances or not, and whether they can challenge Neuer's goal with good attempts.
An early goal could completely change the complexion of this tie. Arsenal need to make sure that if given they chance, they do just that.
The key for me in this one is whether or not Arsenal can grab an early goal.
Like we saw with Barcelona against AC Milan, snaring that early goal and giving a team the belief that they can indeed come back from the brink of defeat is invaluable; such a scenario could completely change the context of this game. If for nothing else than it would force Bayern to work for the win, which, with a two-goal advantage at home, they probably shouldn't have to do.
Arsenal have been guilty all year of squandering good goalscoring chances and ruining nice build-up play with poor finishes. If they do that again here, their Champions League dream is as good as over, but if not, then we may well have a game on our hands after all.
The Gunners showed in the first leg that they thrive on confidence and can challenge any team in world football when they've got it.
And the winner is...
Even Bayern Munich.
Having said all of that, it's hard to see arguably the most dominant and clinical team in world football not scoring at all in this one. Especially given their home-ground advantage and the fact that they're the highest-scoring team in the 2013 Champions League so far.
Arsenal don't seem to have the defensive pieces on hand to stop Bayern from netting here, so even if the Gunners do find the back of the net (which I believe they will), I can't see it being anything more than a delay of the inevitable. Bayern are simply too strong right across the pitch to be beaten like this, and they'll book their spot in the European quarter-finals as a result
A mini-victory for Arsenal on the night, perhaps, but in reality, too little too late for the London club.
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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