Created on 10-03-2014 at 15:45 PM
Bayern have one foot in the door to the Champions League quarter-finals. Following FCB’s 2-0 win at Arsenal in the first leg of the Round of 16, the holders can secure their passage to the last eight in the return leg at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday night (Live in English from 8.45 pm CET on Twitter and fcbayern.de Web Radio), although that does depend on Pep Guardiola’s team not squandering their two-goal lead from the first leg.
“We’ll run into serious problems if we start to play for time and just sit on our lead,” warned Guardiola at Monday’s pre-match press conference. Toni Kroos knows all too well the tie with the Gunners is far from over. “2-0 is always a tricky result as we saw last year,” said the midfielder. At the same stage last term, FCB lost 2-0 at home after winning 3-1 in London and were in danger of being knocked out. “Arsenal are capable of turning round a 2-0 defeat.”
Confidence is high
“We took away a good result from the first leg and we want to produce a solid performance to get through to the next round,” declared Thomas Müller, although he too recalled last season’s match at the Allianz Arena. “We learned a lesson and we know what happened last year. That serves as a warning,” said Müller ahead of the re-run of last term’s Round of 16 tie. However, Müller added: “I don’t expect us to lose 2-0 again.”
With ten wins in ten games since the winter break, “confidence is very high” at the treble winners according to Müller. The Reds are therefore determined not go into the game against the third-placed team in the Premier League “with any lack of focus. We have to get stuck into challenges straight away and try to assert ourselves on the opposition by dominating possession,’ said the second-most prolific German player ever in the Champions League with 20 goals to his name to date.
More dominant display
Immediately after his team’s 6-1 victory over VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday, Guardiola called for a more dominant display on Tuesday night: “We need to dominate possession.” Guardiola knows Arsenal “very well. They have the quality to hold on to the ball. We can’t afford to let Arsenal play their game. We’ve got to control the match. We’ll get through to the quarter-finals if we have the ball. If we let Arsenal have the ball, they will go through.”
The 43-year-old can hardly contain his enthusiasm when he talks about the creative players in the English side including skipper Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla and Mesut Özil. “Anything can happen when they have the ball given their qualities in midfield.” The Gunners have nothing to lose after defeat in the first leg and they will look to put in a performance in Munich. “It’s like a final for Arsenal, so their players will give 100 percent. I expect them to produce a top performance.”
All on board
Guardiola selects from close to a full squad. All his players are available with the exception of Holger Badstuber and 18 will make it onto the UEFA team sheet on Tuesday night. Mario Götze is expected to return to the squad after being rested for the Wolfsburg game at the weekend. It remains to be seen who will make way for the versatile forward. Guardiola is certainly playing his cards close to his chest in terms of the line-up.
“You definitely want to be first out of the blocks in games like this,” said Müller. He and Mario Mandzukic did their chances of a start against the Gunners no harm by grabbing a brace each at Wolfsburg. Guardiola has a wealth of options at his disposal at the start of the business end of the season. He even joked about no player being injured when it comes to the knockout stages of the Champions League. “I don’t know why but they’re all always fit – here and at every other big club.”