Bayern Munich Against Arsenal Is Toughest Road 'Imaginable' To Wembley – Forbes

Bayern Munich and Harry Kane will face Arsenal in quarterfinals of this year’s Champions League. … [+] (Photo by Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich. Arsenal fans, in particular, will look forward to this game with some anxiety. After all, Bayern scored five goals in each of their last three meetings, and the last time the two teams met in the Champions League knockout stage, Arsenal was beaten 10-2 on aggregate.
It would be foolish, however, to take that result as a preamble for what will happen in April when the two teams first meet at the Emirates (Apr. 9) and then at the Allianz Arena (Apr. 16). Not a single player in the Arsenal squad experienced the 5-1 and 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Bayern in 2017. At Bayern, only Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller, Kingsley Coman, and Joshua Kimmich were in the squad that defeated the London-based club.
“Arsenal is a team that will give us two exciting games,” Müller said after the draw. “They are currently in good form and have a good momentum. It will be tough. But with the second leg in Munich, we have a good chance of progressing.”
Playing the second leg in Munich should give Bayern a slight advantage in this tie. But make no mistake, this Arsenal team is dangerous, despite a narrow escape in penalties against Portugal’s Porto in the previous round.
Arsenal is not only first in the Premier League standings but also has scored the most goals (70) and conceded the least (24). Although Arsenal is even on points with Liverpool and just one point ahead of eternal Premier League champions Man City, their goal differential of +46 is seven goals clear of the next-best team, Liverpool, which has a goal differential of +39.
“It will definitely be a difficult road to Wembley,” Bayern CEO Jan-Christian Dreesen said. “Arsenal, as leaders of the Premier League, are in top form, and it will be a close tie. They are no longer the same Gunners against whom we won the last three games by a big margin. The objective is still clear: after being in the quarterfinals three times in a row, we definitely want to progress.”
Bayern smashed Arsenal 10-2 on aggregate the last time the two teams met in the Champions League … [+] knockout stage. (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP via Getty Images)
One thing needs to be noted: despite reports that the Rekordmeister has struggled in the Bundesliga this season, Bayern’s record is better than what the noise around the club suggests. Indeed, much of Bayern’s troubles this season come down to the fact that their main opponent in the league—Bayer Leverkusen—is pretty much playing a perfect season.
Bayern have averaged 2.28 points per game this season, enough to finish the season with 78 points. That’s a better record than last season and in the club’s history, and on course for the club’s seventh-best season in the Bundesliga. Unfortunately for them, Leverkusen is on course for an unbelievable 91-point season, which would equalize a Bundesliga record.
Nobody at Bayern would admit it until Leverkusen has won it, but the Bundesliga title is extremely unlikely this season. Bayern is also out of the DFB Pokal, which leaves the Champions League as the only title possibility. That is also what makes the Bavarians so very dangerous for Arsenal, as the club wants to gift star striker Harry Kane his first-ever title.
We want to get to the semi-finals, even though Arsenal is one of the top clubs in Europe,” board member of sport Max Eberl said. “They have developed over the past few years. Now they have a balanced team with incredible speed in attack. And they play very attractive football. We are focused and looking forward to the games. We look forward to these nights.”
Sporting director Christoph Freund takes it one step further. “Arsenal’s development is impressive,” Freund said. “But we are FC Bayern. We need a really good away game in London. At home, with our fans behind us, anything is possible.”
On balance, Bayern should be slight favorites against Arsenal. But Mikel Arteta’s side is very good and plays some of the best football in Europe. Furthermore, getting past Arsenal is just the first step of a very tricky road to Wembley. Because up next will be either Man City or Real Madrid.
“We certainly have the most difficult road imaginable ahead of us—now playing against one of the best teams in Europe,” Bayern head coach Thomas Tuchel said. But the head coach might have given his side the impetus to go deep in this competition. The 50-year-old announced in February that he would leave the club at the end of the season, and since then, the form has been ticking up with clear victories over Lazio (3-0) and Mainz (8-1).
Furthermore, Tuchel knows how to win the Champions League. Not only has he done it with Chelsea, but he also reached the final with PSG the previous year, where he lost to Bayern (1-0). Plus, it wouldn’t be the first time the bench boss would leave his club after winning a title. Tuchel was fired by Dortmund shortly after winning the DFB Pokal in 2017, and perhaps history will repeat itself.
Manuel Veth is the host of the Bundesliga Gegenpressing Podcast and the Area Manager USA at Transfermarkt. He has also been published in the Guardian, Newsweek, Howler, Pro Soccer USA, and several other outlets. Follow him on Twitter: @ManuelVeth and on Threads: @manuveth







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