Bayern Munich has a 20-point lead atop the Bundesliga table and is now through to the Champions League quarterfinals. This has left little cause for criticism, but Arsenal’s recent 2-0 should give the German giants reason to worry.
The Gunners’ effort to earn the victory was ultimately in vain, as the team lost the first leg of the matchup 3-1 at the Emirates and was eliminated on away goals.
But the teams that did manage to make it through to the next round of the competition will be able to look back at Arsene Wenger’s tactics and use them to earn a positive result against Bayern.
Here are Bayern Munich’s weaknesses that were evident against Arsenal.
Centre-Backs’ Lack of Pace
While Dante is not a worryingly slow defender, 35-year-old Daniel van Buyten’s inability to keep pace with opposing strikers is one of the main weaknesses that Bayern’s opponents can exploit.
Jerome Boateng has been used at centre-back as well, but his youth and inconsistency shows at times, leaving Jupp Heynckes to play the veteran Belgian in big matches.
Arsenal wasted little time in moving forward at pace and playing the ball out to Theo Walcott just three minutes into the match, and he drove the ball in behind the back line. It landed on Olivier Giroud’s foot and the Frenchman knocked the ball into the back of the net.
Teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain have attackers with pace, and the German leaders should be concerned about potential matchups with these players.
Susceptibility to Counter Attacks
Bayern does an incredible job of maintaining possession and generating shots, but the team can also find itself pressed too far forward at times.
While Giroud’s goal did not come on a traditional counter attack, the Gunners did fly forward extremely quickly, and the Bayern defenders were caught on their heels.
The lack of speed from the centre-backs contributes to this problem, and Bayern’s willingness to move players up the pitch when it has possession leaves its slow-footed defenders exposed.
When the team looses its shape to get players in on goal, it is at its most vulnerable point.
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While Arsenal deserve credit for their effort, Bayern will feel that the result would have been different had Bastian Schweinsteiger and Franck Ribery been available for the match.
Luis Gustavo filled in at central midfielder while Arjen Robben stepped in on the wing, and both players have impressive amounts of experience in Champions League. However, the Germans clearly still missed their two absent stars.
Without Schweinsteiger’s clever passing and Ribery’s dangerous attacking talents, Bayern lacked the ability to put the ball in the back of the net despite creating significantly more opportunities than the Gunners did during the match.
This team is not as deep as it appeared to be at the beginning of the season, and if suspension or injury keeps key players out of crucial matches going forward, Bayern will risk another defeat.