As we get close to the business end of the Champions League round of 16, TheHardTackle looks at the tough away fixtures awaiting Arsenal and Milan, trailing 2-0 and 1-0 from their home ties, respectively.
Arsenal will look to kick off a tough round of fixtures awaiting them in March with a win while Milan will look to turn around what has been a terrible season for them so far. On the other hand, both Bayern and Atletico will look to take advantage of their away goals and secure a passage through to the quarter finals. Let us now look at the top 5 things to look out for in these fixtures:
Fortress Vicente Calderon
If Milan are to secure a come-from-behind victory, they will need to breach the fortress that is the Estadio Calderon. Los Indios have not lost at home in the league this season, with the likes of Madrid and Barcelona unable to secure three points there. They will also welcome back key players who were rested over the weekend’s fixture against Celta Vigo. Diego Costa, Diego Codin and Arda Turan will be expected back in the line up. Atletico also have form on their side and Diego Simeone’s men have lost just one of their last 5 games in all competition.
They will also look to make the quarter finals for the first time in 17 years.
Arsenal’s trophy drought looks set to continue
With whispers going around the footballing world about Arsenal’s trophy less drought continuing for yet another season, Arsene Wenger’s job is likely to be in question if the same is repeated this year. Having had the bad luck of drawing Bayern Munich in the round of 16 itself, Arsenal will look to pull off one of the biggest upsets in UCL history. History will also be against Arsenal as only two teams in UCL history have overturned first leg home defeats into victories in the tie.
Also, having gone off the boil in the Premier League following their defeat at Stoke, winning this UCL tie from here will be considered to be one of the greatest moments in club history and a much needed trophy at The Emirates. Arsenal will take some heart from the fact
Milan’s playing style affected by inconsistency
Having already gone through a manager change in this season, AC Milan are languishing in 10th place in the Serie A table and come into this fixture on a run of terrible form having won just 2 of their 8 fixtures in all competitions. Seedorf took over from Allegri in January and has failed to steady the ship winning just 4 out of 8 games in charge and losing 3 of those. He has insisted that Milan will look to play their usual attacking football in this match and in the matches to come.
Milan this season look to be a shadow of their former selves having lost the “fear factor” of playing at the San Siro. Diego Costa scored the only goal of the first leg and having been suspended for the weekend’s La Liga fixture against Celta Vigo, he comes into this fixture with some valuable rest.
The Allianz Arena factor
Considered by many to be one of the best stadiums in the world, both in terms of atmosphere and in terms of looks, the Allianz Arena will welcome another visitor in the form of Arsenal. Having only seen defeat against Manchester City at the Arena in the Champions League, Bayern come into this fixture with the best record in all of Europe’s top leagues. They are a staggering 20 points clear of their nearest rivals Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga and come into this match against the Londoners with almost no injury concerns except a few niggles.
Having reached the finals on the previous two occasions and looking favourties to reach there yet again, Bayern are looking to become the first team in the UCL era to defend their title successfully.
Bayern Munich – Best team in Europe?
Bayern Munich are the most successful club in Germany having won the Bundesliga a record 23 times and the national cup 16 times. With their ever rising stock in European competitions and domination of teams overall, the question remains if they are the best team in Europe at the moment . The answer will be a resounding yes among most of the fans and pundits worldwide. Their closest competition would have been Barcelona, but the Spanish giants are ‘struggling’ this season compared to their usual high standards.
As they usually say, the numbers do not lie. Gather this – they are 20 points clear of their nearest team in the Bundesliga, they are just one match away from 50 unbeaten in the league, they have now won 16 league games on the trot and are looking to make it 3 out of 3 finals appearances this season in the UCL. If those figures do not indicate a good team, none will.
Overall, this round of fixtures have similar patterns in the way that both the away teams will look to attack to break their duck in the tie which should make interesting viewing. With the variety of world class talent on display in both of today’s fixtures, one sure hopes that this is just the starter to a delicious main course.