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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Champions League Knockout Stage: Can Arsenal Beat the Bayern Voodoo?

Three times before, Arsenal have met Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League and in all those occasions, they have been bundled out of the competition by the Bundesliga giants.

The two meet again in the knockout stage of this year’s competition with the first leg set for the Emirates on Wednesday night. The Gunners and Bayern met during the same stage of the competition last year and it was the Bavarians who were raising the champagne high in spite of losing the return leg 2-0 having all but secured entry into the quarters with a 3-1 win at the Emirates.

Bayern have been in imperious form especially in the domestic front where they are on course to defending the Bundesliga title where they lead the chasing pack of Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund with 16 and 17 points respectively. Arsenal are chasing three titles as they try to end their 8-year trophy drought and a result against the Bavarians will not only make the second leg entertaining but will give Wenger’s men the self confidence they need.

A 2-1 defeat of Liverpool in the FA Cup was sort of sweet revenge for them having fell 5-1 to the Reds a fortnight ago. Bayern will be weary of Arsenal’s home form, they haven’t’ lost at home in their last 13 games, but even in the absence of Franck Ribery, they have verve and attacking potent that might make the absence of the Frenchman almost unnoticeable. The Gunners will be without suspended Mikel Arteta while Aaron Ramsey, Thomas Vermaleen and Abou Diaby will sit out with injury.

Bayern have won all their last 9 competitive fixtures since losing 3-2 to Manchester City in their Champions League match group stage match. Pep Guardiola will be happy to welcome midfielder Bastian Schweinstieger to his ranks, the German having featured twice as the continues to recover from his injury while Wenger will try to rely on the speed of Alex Oxlade Chamberlin to hurt the Bayern defence who conceded only 5 times during the group stages.

The other round of 16 fixture on Wednesday night will see Atletico Madrid travel to Italy to face fast-fading AC Milan. Milan have had an indifferent season which sees them lie 9th in Serie A and winning the Champions League may be their only chance of participating in the competition next year. Their visiting Spanish outfit, however, have been in imperious form and are currently showing they can mix it up with the untouchables of Spanish football, Barca and Real Madrid. The Vicente Calderon side are locked in a three-horse race for the La Liga title and are currently placed third on the log albeit only on goal difference as they are all on 60 points.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!