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.

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea