Today’s UEFA Champions League match between Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich and Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal proved to be much more dramatic than anyone could have anticipated. Bayern have been dominating the Bundesliga this year and the last time they faced the Gunners in London it was a very one sided affair as the Germans ran out 3-1 winners. Arsenal nearly turned the tie around with a 2-0 win against Bayern’s “B” team but lost it on away goals. This year’s version of the matchup ended with a similar scoreline but in a wildly different way.
Bayern’s Toni Kroos forced the first save of the day by Arsenal’s Wojciech Szczesny who looked to be in for a busy evening. Arsenal did look the better of the two sides early and even won a penalty as Mesut Ozil was fouled in the box by Jerome Boateng. It was not a clear goalscoring opportunity so Boateng only received a yellow for his clumsiness. Unfortunately for Arsenal, Ozil’s penalty was one of the poorest in recent memory and was easily saved by Manuel Neuer. Ozil has simply looked off the pace in recent matches and was the subject of some rough encouragement by his teammates after the miss. Arsenal still enjoyed the majority of the chances but Neuer kept them at bay.
In the 37th minute, Szczesny fouled Arjen Robben in his six yard box and received a red card for his troubles. The incident looked a clear red to the naked eye but some felt that it was simply a foul and that he Polish keeper should not have been sent off. David Alaba stepped up for the penalty for some strange reason considering the attacking options at hand, and one-upped Ozil by sending his shot off the post and out of play. The damage was done for Bayern as the ten man Arsenal side would be hard pressed to keep up.
The Robben penalty incident:
With Bayern pressing and Arsenal “parking the bus” in defense, the breakthrough was hard to come by but a moment of brilliance by Toni Kroos opened the scoring. The rest of the half played out in a similar way with Bayern having their way with the ball and ending up with 79% time of possession. Bayern was wasteful with their chances and substitute keeper Lukas Fabianski did his best to keep the Germans at bay. The second Bayern goal came at the end of a lovely move finished off by substitute Thomas Muller who seems to love powering his headers in to the ground to score against English opposition. The two goal difference is no less than what Bayern deserved even if Arsenal felt hard done by the sending off much the same way Manchester City felt about the penalty.
Arsenal will look to overturn the difference when they travel to Munich for the second leg but it will be a tough task. Bayern will have learned from their mistake of underestimating the Gunners last year and will not field a “weaker” side for the match. It is a shame that the match had to end the way it had because this was shaping up to be an intriguing tie before the red card was brandished.
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