Created on 11-03-2014 at 22:34 PM
Bayern are safely through to the Champions League quarter-finals after a 1-1 draw with Arsenal in the Round of 16 return in Munich on Tuesday evening, meaning the holders win the tie against the Premier League side 3-1 on aggregate. FCB always controlled the play against the defensive Gunners but failed to make the most of their chances, with the visitors seemingly more concerned with avoiding a hiding than going all-out for victory.
The 68,000 capacity crowd at the Allianz Arena saw the home side comfortably control the first 45 minutes against their cautious and defensively-minded opponents, although Pep Guardiola will have felt his men should have put away at least one of a string of presentable chances. Bastian Schweinsteiger rectified that omission with the 54th-minute opener, but former Munich man Lukas Podolski immediately levelled to keep his side’s hopes alive. Bayern responded by closing out the game and could even afford the luxury of Thomas Müller missing a stoppage-time penalty.
The 3-1 aggregate victory means FCB progress to the last eight of the competition and the free draw on Friday 21 March, when there is no seeding and no national association considerations. The Bavarians are back in action next Saturday evening when Bayer Leverkusen visit the Allianz Arena in the Bundesliga.
Five changes for Pep
Guardiola made five changes to the team that thrashed Wolfsburg 6-1 away from home on Saturday, bringing in Javi Martinez, Thiago, Schweinsteiger, Mario Götze and Mario Mandzukic in place of Rafinha, Jerome Boateng, Toni Kroos, Xherdan Shaqiri and Müller.
It meant the holders started with an attacking line-up comprising Manuel Neuer in goal, Philipp Lahm, Dante, Martinez and David Alaba in the back four, Thiago and Schweinsteiger in the holding positions, Ribery, Götze and Arjen Robben in attacking midfield, and Mandzukic at centre-forward.
Long-serving Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was without injured midfielder Jack Wilshere and left-back Kieran Gibbs, and suspended regular keeper Wojciech Szczesny, but fielded German trio Per Mertesacker, Mesut Özil and former FCB man Lukas Podolski, with the Gunners looking to launch pacy Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from a more central and deeper role than normal.
Goalless first half
After Nowegian referee Svein Oddvar Moen whistled the match underway, Wenger’s tactical plan became immediately clear as the Gunners withdrew into their own half, leaving only striker Olivier Giroud up front. Oxlade-Chamberlain caused a few problems with his marauding runs and Neuer did have to save a powerful Giroud header from an Özil corner on the half hour, but otherwise the action was condensed into the away half of the field.
Stand-in Arsenal keeper Lukasz Fabianski saved Schweinsteiger’s fourth minute sighter, before Dante picked up the yellow card that keeps him out of the next Champions League match for a foul on Giroud. FCB chances began to come after 20 or so minutes but Schweinsteiger’s shot was blocked, and although Martinez had the ball in the net on 27 minutes, the assistant referee correctly raised his flag for offside.
Robben was beginning to motor down the right flank and Mikel Arteta produced a good block to thwart the Dutchman, before Alaba shot wide off his weaker right foot and Mandzukic headed a precise Götze cross over Fabianski’s crossbar. Götze tested the Gunners keeper with a snap sho from the last move of the half before the sides turned round with the game deadlocked.
Sides trade goals in second half
Tomas Rosicky replaced the ineffectual Özil for the second half, but Bayern had the bit between their teeth now and although Robben’s big shout for a penalty was waved away, the Reds took an overdue lead after 54 minutes when Ribery danced down the inside-left channel and centred for Schweinsteiger to control and convert from eight yards.
Many of those watching thought that would be that, but Wenger’s men had other ideas and equalised against the run of play three minutes later when Podolski blasted home from a tight angle on the left edge of the six-yard box, although the ex-Red seemed to push Lahm off the ball first.
Suddenly the visitors were energised and Guardiola reacted to the swing in momentum by sending on Kroos for the subdued Götze. The entertainment level went up as both sides pushed on, but Schweinsteiger shot wide and Mandzukic’s first touch let him down after a good set-up by Schweinsteiger and Thiago.
As the game moved into the final ten minutes Fabianski got down smartly to deny Robben, before Wenger switched to all-out attack with the introduction of Serge Gnabry for Arteta. Neuer dealt capably with Podolski’s cross and sub Serge Gnabry twice threatened with long-range efforts, before a flurry of action in stoppage time when Laurent Koscielny felled Robben in the box, but Müller placed his spot-kick too centrally and Fabianski hoofed clear with his feet.
Live match report for fcbayern.de by Chris Hamley