Arsenal hope for a miracle in Munich

FPJ BureauUpdated: Saturday, June 01, 2019, 03:08 PM IST
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Wenger’s side need to overturn a 2-0 deficit against Bayern and eye a deja vu of their last year’s performance against the Germans 

Munich: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is hoping for deja vu when the Gunners face Bayern Munich away in Tuesday’s Champions League last 16, second-leg clash.Wenger’s side go to Munich’s Allianz Arena needing to overturn a 2-0 deficit from the first leg at the Emirates Stadium three weeks ago.

Arsenal bowed out of Europe to the same opponents at the same stage last season, but not before enjoying a shock 2-0 win in Munich’s after losing 3-1 at home to Bayern.The Bavarian giants only went through on away goals before going on to win the Wembley final and Wenger said it’s all about belief again for his side in Bavaria. “We have to go out there and go for it,” said Wenger.

“I am confident we can produce a stunning result.”It is down to scoring the first goal. After that, anything is possible.”This time last year we went there and won 2-0, so we can take confidence from that.”It is never over in this game. We will go there with belief that we can do it.”The Gunners enjoyed a confidence-boosting 4-1 FA Cup quarter-final win over Everton on Saturday and Wenger said attitude will be the key if his side are to reach the last eight in Europe.

“It is difficult statistically, but in football we have seen worse things,” said the Frenchman.”What is important is that we are in good shape mentally.”Arsenal find themselves seven points behind Chelsea in the Premier League table, albeit with a game in hand, and have been guilty of erratic form recently.

In 14 matches since the start of 2014, they have won nine, drawn two and lost three, including a humiliating 5-1 league defeat at Liverpool on February 8.Wenger has a few injury concerns with Laurent Koscielny doubtful after missing the victory over Everton due to a hamstring injury sustained on international duty with France.
Aaron Ramsey (thigh) and Kim Kallstrom (back) are not likely to return until next weekend’s game against Tottenham Hotspur.

Buoyant Bayern have no such worries and welcomed back France winger Franck Ribery, Swiss star Xherdan Shaqiri and Germany’s Thomas Mueller in Saturday’s 6-1 rout of Wolfsburg.All three got on the scoresheet while Croatia striker Mario Mandzukic came off the bench to hit the net twice as Bayern scored five goals in 17 second-half minutes.

Having become the first side to win the treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup titles last season, Bayern are again sending records tumbling.The Wolfsburg win was Bayern’s 16th Bundesliga victory in a row, bettering their own league record of 15 straight wins in 2005, and left them 20 points clear in the league table.

They also extended their record unbeaten league run to 49 matches, equalling Arsenal’s Premier League record of 49 games without defeat set in 2004 and Juventus’s marker in 2011-2012.Only AC Milan’s record of 58 unbeaten Serie A matches, set between 1991-1993, is a better mark in Europe’s top leagues.

Bayern have only dropped four points with 22 wins in 24 league games, but Manchester City showed Arsenal the way with a shock 3-2 win in last December’s group stage game in Munich.Despite their Wolves romp, Bayern boss Pep Guardiola has said his team can ill afford to allow Arsenal the same first-half chances which Wolfsburg enjoyed.

“If we give Arsenal too much possession, we will have big, big problems,” warned Guardiola, who rested Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger in Wolfsburg.”If we keep the ball, we’ll get into the quarter-finals, if they control it, Arsenal will go through.”

Simeone wary of Milan

Madrid: Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has warned his side to take nothing for granted as they look to seal their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League against AC Milan on Tuesday. The Spanish side haven’t reached the last eight of Europe’s premier club competition since Simeone played for the club back in 1997. However, they are strong favourites to progress as they hold a 1-0 advantage from the first leg thanks to Diego Costa’s late winner in the San Siro three weeks ago. “Milan is a strong institution. They are accustomed to playing in this competition and they have players with a lot of talent,” said Simeone.

“It is a definitive match, but it is very dangerous despite the result in the first leg.”Milan have had a dreadful domestic season as they lie in 11th in Serie A with winning the Champions League their last realistic hope of qualifying for the competition next season. However, Simeone is wary that star players such as Mario Balotelli and Kaka still have the class to make it a long night for his side at the Vicente Calderon.

“Their form doesn’t complicate anything because I expect the best Milan. It will be a very difficult match, as we saw in the first leg, because there is so much at stake. In these games the big players show up no matter what they are going through at the present moment.”

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