Bayern Munich v Arsenal: UEFA Champions League Match Preview
Bayern Munich host Arsenal in the first leg of the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, at the Allianz Arena tonight (7.45pm kickoff UK time).
The second leg of the tie will take place at the Emirates Stadium on 7th March.
Arsenal have lost in the last 16 for six seasons in a row; to end that run, they must overcome a Bayern Munich side who beat them at this stage in 2013 and 2014.
The Gunners have not been past the round of 16 since 2009/10.
Arsene Wenger has to decide whether he will leave Mesut Ozil out of his stating line-up. The German put in another lacklustre performance against Hull in the Premier League on Saturday.
Under Pep Guardiola, Bayern were losing UEFA Champions League semi-finalists in each of the last three campaigns.
Bayern have won their last 15 UEFA Champions League home matches – a competition record.
Bayern top the Bundesliga this season, with 49 points from 20 matches. They have a 7 point lead over second placed RB Leipzig.
The German champions required late strikes from Arturo Vidal and Arjen Robben to secure a crucial away victory in Saturday’s all-Bavaria derby against Ingolstadt.
After back-to-back Premier League defeats, Arsenal got to winning ways with a 2-0 win over Hull City on Saturday – Alexis Sanchez netting both goals.
The sides have met 10 times in European competition, all since 2000/01. Bayern have five wins, Arsenal three and there have been two draws.
In last season’s group stage, Arsenal beat Bayern 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium, with goals from Olivier Giroud and Mesut Özil.
However, Bayern gained revenge with a 5-1 home win in Munich, with Thomas Müller (2), David Alba and Arjen Robben on the scoresheet. Giroud again scored for Arsenal.
In the 2013/14 Champions League round of 16 second leg Lukas Podolski equalised within two minutes of Bastian Schweinsteiger putting the hosts ahead. Arsenal went out of the competition having lost 2-0 at home, with Müller once more on target.
At the same stage of the competition in 2012/13 the Gunners won 2-0 in Germany, Giroud and Laurent Koscielny finding the net. They exited on away goals though having lost 3-1 at home, where Müller again scored.
The other two meetings between the sides in Bavaria both resulted in Bayern victories, in the 2004/15 round of 16 by a 3-1 scoreline and the 2000/01 second group stage by a 1-0 scoreline.
Robert Lewandowski, has scored 30 goals in 33 outings for club and country this term.
After his double against Hull City on Saturday, Alexis Sanchez has 17 Premier League goals this season, making him the league’s leading marksman.
On Arsene Wenger, Ancelotti said.
“He has the experience to know that in our job it is normal to be criticised, for this reason he’s no problem.”
On facing Arsenal, Ancelotti added.
“Our goal is to achieve always the best in every competition.
We are not playing to avoid goals. It’s 180 minutes.
We have to play well, 100 percent!”
On the challenge of facing Bayern, Wenger said.
“This is a massive challenge – but I think we are capable to deal with it”.
On the potential advantage of playing the second leg at home, Wenger added.
“It will be important. But on the condition we have a good performance tomorrow night.”
Xabi Alonso will be fit to return and is likely to start.
Franck Ribéry (out since 31 January, hamstring) has missed Bayern’s last two games.
Jerome Boateng has not played since undergoing pectoral muscle surgery on 20 December.
David Ospina will replace Petr Cech in-goal.
Granit Xhaka has served a 4 match domestic suspension and will return to the squad.
Lucas Perez has been ruled out.
The Spaniard has not travelled to Germany due to a minor hamstring problem.
Santi Cazorla (Achilles) and Aaron Ramsey (Hamstring) are still out.
Referee: Milorad Mažić (SRB)
Assistant Referee 1: Milovan Ristić (SRB)
Assistant Referee 2: Dalibor Djurdjević (SRB)
Additional Assistant Referee 1: Danilo Grujić (SRB)
Additional Assistant Referee 2: Nenad Djokić (SRB)
4th Official: Nemanja Petrović (SRB)
UEFA Referee Observer: Roberto Rosettti (ITA)
UEFA Delegate: Steen Dahrup (DEN)
Arsenal will want to remain in the tie after tonight’s match. If the Gunners can keep the match tight and score an away goal that would make it all to play for in the second leg. A 1-1 draw.