Bayern Munich v Arsenal: What Arsenal would give to be burdened by Bayern's issues

Munich have 'only' been winning by the odd goal of late. The Gunners' problems run so much deeper

Munich

When Jupp Heynckes was asked whether he was concerned that Bayern Munich were winning too many games recently by only single-goal margins, you could tell this is a club that is a very long way away from the various crises that have gripped their opponents tomorrow night.

Bayern are still crushing all opposition before them. They are currently on an 11-game winning streak and have not lost since 28 October. Until their 3-2 victory over Fortuna Düsseldorf on Saturday, that October defeat to Bayer Leverkusen was the last time they had conceded two goals in a game. Bate Borisov beat them 3-1 in Belarus at the start of October, their only other defeat of the season, which is the result Arsenal need against them tomorrow night to take this Champions League last-16 tie to extra-time.

In short, the task facing an Arsenal side without Jack Wilshere, Bacary Sagna, Lukas Podolski and Wojciech Szczesny is all but hopeless and if they were to turn it around and reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League, it would rank with the biggest shocks of recent times. The formbook dictates that Arsenal should be happy to get out of Munich with a respectable defeat and turn their attention to securing a top-four finish in the Premier League.

Not that Bayern are taking anything for granted, demonstrating the steely-eyed focus that you would expect of them. To make his point, Heynckes cited Arsenal's doomed comeback against Milan last season when they lost the first leg 4-0 and won the return, at the Emirates, 3-0. "They could have scored four with the chances they had," he said.

"I have no interest in dividing up the skin before I kill the bear," Heynckes said, when it came to addressing any potential complacency. "My team is not listening to those saying we are the best team in Europe at the moment." Unfortunately in this case, the figurative bear in question has been chained up so long that it has started to behave erratically. Putting Arsenal out of their misery as swiftly and humanely as possible might be best for all concerned.

What is most troubling about this Arsenal team is that it has the feel of a side that has already conceded the tie and has one eye on a difficult trip to Swansea City on Saturday. Arsène Wenger said that he hoped the situation could liberate his team but, equally, this is not a side with the confidence to withstand a heavy defeat.

There will be no Franck Ribéry in the Bayern team tomorrow night. He has not recovered from an ankle injury. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Jérôme Boateng are suspended. The Dutch winger Arjen Robben is, however, fit to play. "Before you hand out all the cookies, we have to win this tie," Heynckes said. He did nothing to dispel the notion that he will pick his strongest team.

Philipp Lahm did his best to be diplomatic about Arsenal, who he described as a "technically gifted team" who put Bayern under pressure, he said, in their better moments in the home leg on 19 February. "I still think they are a top team," Lahm said. "They always qualify for the Champions League and go through the group stages. They have a lot of experience... whether they are right at the top level, I don't know."

As for Heynckes, his defence of Wenger – "a very creative manager, producing almost fantasy football" – showed the high regard in which the Arsenal manager is still held across Europe. "Talented players have come in but for every manager it is essential that if you want to play at the absolute top level, for Bayern Munich, for Barcelona, for Real Madrid, you have to have the players to do that," he said. "At Arsenal, maybe it has been a bit more difficult for Arsène Wenger. For me, in the last 10-15 years, he has been one of the best managers in Europe."

"He is a few years younger than me. I would be very sad if he was not actively involved any more but I imagine he will continue."

There are four years and four months in age difference between the two men and Heynckes is, of course, being moved aside in the summer for the most stellar name from the new generation of European coaches, Pep Guardiola.

If Wenger is to sign a new contract around the time of his 64th birthday in October, then he will have to make an impressive start to next season with, ideally from Arsenal's point of view, a squad of players overhauled in the summer. The biggest fear, of course, is that tomorrow night could be the club's last game in the Champions League for a while and where will that leave Wenger and the delicate issue of his future?

It was Franz Beckenbauer who had offered a mild criticism of Bayern's first-half defensive performance against Fortuna at the weekend, which was put to Lahm by the German press. "Before we had the question, can we turn games around?" he said. "We have shown we can do that. We are ready."

You get the impression that a German public, dazzled by Bayern's success this season, are all but giving up on trying to find weaknesses in the side. If only it was as simple as that for Arsenal and Wenger, who could find life uncomfortable indeed if things go badly tomorrow night.

 

Follow all the action from tonight's match LIVE by clicking here

 

Kick off 7.45pm TV Sky Sports 2

Referee P Kralovec (Cz Rep).

Odds to qualify Bayern 1-100 Arsenal 25-1.

Porto bank on away record

If FC Porto, who haven't lost away from home this year, maintain that record at Malaga today, the Portuguese club will progress to the Champions League quarterfinals for the seventh time.

The two-time champions, who won 1-0 in the first leg three weeks ago, are expected to welcome back midfielder Joao Moutinho after two weeks out injured and central defender Ezequiel Mangala following a shoulder injury. Malaga will be at full strength.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works