Bayern Munich handed a thumping 5-1 defeat to Arsenal that saw them reach one step closer to a place in the Champions League quarterfinals
Bayern Munich hosted Arsenal at the Allianz Arena in the first leg of their Round of 16 tie on Wednesday. Both sides met on the night looking to get one step closer to a place in the Last 8 of the premier European competition, and the hosts ended up seizing the advantage heading into the second leg at the Emirates Stadium next month.
Arjen Robben opened the scoring as he put Bayern into the lead just 11 minutes into the match, but Alexis Sanchez levelled things up at the half-hour mark as he scored from the follow up from his saved penalty to raise the hopes of taking an unlikely advantage into the return leg.
However, what followed in the second half was a rampage by Bayern as they scored three quickfire goals from Robert Lewandowski and Thiago Alcantara (twice) to crash all Arsenal hopes. Thomas Muller then sealed the comprehensive win late into the match to complete the humiliation for Arsene Wenger’s men.
The Hard Tackle takes a closer look from a resounding Bayern Munich win in the first leg Round of 16 tie at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday.
Arsenal Left To Rue Missed Opportunities
The meeting with Bayern Munich was as tough as it came for Arsenal, who have faced the Bavarian giants in the knockout stages twice in the last five seasons. The visit to the Allianz Arena did seem daunting at the onset, and Arjen Robben’s strike would have made Arsenal fans jittery early on in the match.
Michael Ballack: “The way they started the game, the Arsenal players looked a little bit scared in the tunnel.” pic.twitter.com/oJwPDfm6y7
— Players Sayings (@PlayersSayings) February 16, 2017
However, Arsenal showed the willingness to fight as the first half wore on, and enjoyed their best spell in the match soon after Alexis Sanchez equalised. The chances had started flowing but much to Arsene Wenger’s dismay, the players didn’t capitalise as Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil wasted two of the biggest opportunities in the match till then.
Had Xhaka and Ozil not spurned the chances that came their way, Arsenal could have grabbed the upper hand in the match, and maybe even headed into the return leg of the tie with a lead.
However, we will not know that now because ultimately it was Carlo Ancelotti’s side that converted from the clear-cut chances coming their way to seize what now a decisive advantage. That is because, barring a miracle it looks highly unlikely that Arsenal would progress into the quarterfinals for the first time in seven years.
Bayern Munich Continue To Enjoy Their Upper Hand Over Arsenal
The Round of 16 meeting between Arsenal and Bayern Munich is incidentally the fourth time in the last five seasons that the two sides have come up against each other. Three of these have come in the first knockout stage, with the last two encounters being in 2012/13 and 2013/14.
Bayern Munich 5-1 Arsenal FT:
Chances created: 18-4
Pass accuracy: 89%-70%
Tie over. pic.twitter.com/EMInma5E2f
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 15, 2017
And it was a familiar feeling for the Gunners, as they succumbed to a humiliating 5-1 defeat that was their third knockout loss in a row. The loss was also their second successive away loss to Bayern by the same scoreline after going down 5-1 to the Bavarians at the Allianz Arena last season as well.
The Gunners looked absolutely listless in the second half and struggled to string two passes together for large periods, while Bayern looked imperious and asserted their domination over Arsenal – both in the match and in their recent rivalry – with one of their best halves of the season.
Finally, numbers are telling too, with Bayern managing 24 shots to Arsenal’s 7. The hosts also enjoyed 76% of the possession, which just shows just how little of the ball Arsenal saw all through the night. Back to the drawing board for Arsene Wenger.
Laurent Koscielny’s Injury Paves The Way For A Defensive Capitulation
Never has Laurent Koscielny’s value to Arsenal been more apparent as soon after he was forced off the field with a hamstring issue, Arsenal’s defence simply capitulated and gave Bayern a free pass into creating clear-cut chances.
50′ – Laurent Koscielny subbed off
53′ – Robert Lewandowksi scores
56′ – Thiago scores
63′ – Thiago scores pic.twitter.com/H4uN6TKLjg
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) February 15, 2017
That was in stark contrast from when Koscielny was on the field, as Arsenal were more than holding their own at the back despite the pressure being applied by the likes of Arjen Robben, Robert Lewandowski and Douglas Costa.
However, as soon as Koscielny was replaced by Gabriel, the defensive organisation collapsed, handing Bayern an invitation into blowing their visitors away. The Arsenal captain was taken off in the 49th minute and only 14 minutes later, the match was already put to bed as Arsenal went 4-1 down.
Gabriel was highly unconvincing in Koscielny’s stead and failed to strike a good understanding with Shkodran Mustafi. As a result, Bayern Munich made hay and it was only David Ospina’s heroics in goal that saved Arsenal further embarrassment in the match. Arsenal need a miracle in the second leg, and they will need Koscielny back by then if they are to have any chance in that fixture.
Thiago Alcantara Ran The Show
Bayern Munich manager has an abundance of attacking riches at his disposal, with the likes of Arjen Robben, Robert Lewandowski, Douglas Costa, Franck Ribery and Thomas Muller. And when you win by a scoreline of 5-1, you would think that these are the players who would stand out from the other players on the field.
Thiago game by numbers vs. Arsenal:
93% pass acc.
3 tackles won
3 aerial duels won
2 chances created
World-class display. pic.twitter.com/AbiiEeCD5b
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 15, 2017
However, it was Thiago Alcantara who ran the show from the midfield as he was absolutely superb all through the night. The Spain international sat in the centre of the park and linked Bayern’s defence with the attack with such aplomb that it looked like the attacking players didn’t have to break a sweat for large parts of the match.
His efforts also saw him being rewarded with two goals and an assist to cap off a superlative individual display. It looks like Thiago has well and truly settled with the Bavarian giants, and as he continues to grow, Carlo Ancelotti looks to be the right man to help him become one of the very best at what he does.
Does This Mauling Spell The Beginning Of The End For Arsene Wenger?
Arsene Wenger had been facing the backlash of angry Arsenal supporters who have been left dismayed by the side’s underwhelming performances against the likes of Everton, Manchester City and Chelsea in the Premier League.
Rio Ferdinand on Arsenal’s performance: “Teams are usually a reflection of their manager. And that was a weak performance.”
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) February 15, 2017
The Champions League encounter thus presented Wenger with the opportunity to put the disappointments in the league behind him, and show a good measure of his team’s calibre. And while they did impress in patches in the first half, the second half would have only made the fans more restless.
To say the least, the second half was a disaster for Arsenal, and Wenger’s side were in shambles as a combination of organisational and mental collapse, as admitted by the manager himself, resulted in the let down of a match that ended in the 5-1 loss for the Gunners.
The performance at the back was embarrassing and laden with errors and, if anything, this has only made things worse for Wenger. Certain sections of the fan base are furiously asking for a change and it begs the question if the time is up for the legendary Arsenal manager.