Verdict: Bayern Munich
Best Odds: 6/5
Arsenal are in need of a miracle that would see them overcome the first-leg 5-1 deficit against mighty Bayern Munich, who have become somewhat of the kryptonite for the North London side recently.
When Arjen Robben opened the scoring after only 11 minutes and Alex Sanchez still managed to get on the score sheet despite missing the penalty on the half-hour mark there was little to suggest what followed next after the half-time break. Arsene Wenger’s men were on the receiving end of Bayern Munich’s quick-fire which saw them concede three in the span of ten minutes, courtesy of Robert Lewandowski and a brace from Alcantara. Knocked down on the ground, the Arsenal failed to recover in what has been one of their worst performances recently. To make things worse, Bayern scored another one through Muller with two minutes from time to make it 5-1 for the second time in a row against the North London side. Gunners are without a win over Bayern Munich since 2013 and there is little hope that they will be able to get back up on their feet, not knowing that they are coming off from another big blow which saw them drop out of the top four in the Premier League. The 3-1 defeat at the hands of Liverpool at Anfield was a huge slap in the face of Arsene Wenger, who is once against getting plenty of stick. The Frenchman is under heavy pressure and only a miracle against Bayern could help him emerge a saint from the current situation.
Santi Cazorla’s season is over due to a fresh blow to his Achilles tendon injury, while Mesut Ozil is poised to miss another match due to illness.
Alexis Sanchez is expected to return to the starting line-up after being used as a substitute against Liverpool, whereas the hosts will once again be without Elneny. Aaron Ramsey sat through the Liverpool game but could be involved after an injury layoff.
The Bavarian giants have been under some criticism earlier in the season, but Carlo Ancelotti’s men have been on a superb run of form recently to shut their doubters’ mouth and to prove their credentials on all fronts. Bayern Munich have been enjoying the 19-match unbeaten run, with their last slump coming in November 2016, when they suffered a 3-2 Champions League defeat at FK Rostov. It’s been almost all wins since then, with the exception of two Bundesliga draws against Schlake and Hertha Berlin, respectively, which is more than enough to suggest that Bayern are heading to London in rather good spirits. Despite the great form and a comprehensive lead from the first leg, Carlo Ancelotti will not be taking anything for granted. If anyone knows that Champions League is unpredictable and should be taken seriously than it is the Italian tactician, who was the victim of one of the most astonishing comebacks in Europe’s elite competition back in 2005 when his AC Milan were beaten by Liverpool in the final despite the 3-0 lead at halftime. Ancelotti is surely hopeful Robert Lewandowski will be able to extend his fine form and build up on his six-goal tally in the competition to help Bayern achieve their goal in the competition.
Jerome Boateng remains on the sidelines through his shoulder injury, whereas Renato Sanches is struggling with illness and will not be traveling to London.
Bayern Munich’s star performer Douglas Costa has picked up an injury against FC Koln as he pulled up during an attack and Franck Ribery is expected to deputise against the Gunners.
Key Factors to Consider
- Arsenal lost 4 of their last 6 matches in all competitions
- Gunners conceded 10 goals in last two meetings with Bayern Munich
- Arsenal failed to go through UCL Last-16 round in last 6 years
- Bayern Munich are on the 19-match winless run
- Bavarians are undefeated away since November 2016
Arsenal have nothing to wait and we expect Arsene Wenger’s men to go full charge straight from the off. We expect to see another openly-contested affair and goals at both ends of the pitch. For those who are feeling more adventuristic, Bayern Munich is a solid choice as we expect the Bavarians to pile more misery on the Gunners.
Verdict: Bayern Munich
Best Odds: 6/5
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