FC Bayern Munich held on to advance in the UEFA Champions League, moving on thanks to the UEFA away-goals rule. The clubs finished the tie level at 3 each, but Bayern's advantage in away goals put Die Roten through to the quarters. If we were owed a few favors from the fair-play gods after last year's CL Final, we cashed one of them in today.
Although there was some talk of Arsenal fielding a genuine B Team, the Gunners brought out their best players (aside from those missing to injury). Giroud played at the top of the formation, with Walctott switched to a wing role. And before the supporters had taken their seats, Arsenal had taken the lead, as Dante was nutmegged with a cross and Giroud blasted it into the net:
It's hard to blame Dante, as he has to be wary of knocking the ball into his own net there. If anything, that was an Alaba problem, as his slip allowed Arsenal to send through Walcott on the right wing. However it happened, it was the start Arsenal needed - they were in the match and giving as good as they got, while Bayern struggled to put anything together. We did have one long blast from Kroos, and a possible 2-on-1 where Robben refused to lay the ball off for Mueller, but otherwise Bayern's first half was pretty weak. In fact, other than the early goal, I don't think ARS looked that great in the first half, either. There was a lot of slipping and sliding, a lot of playing to draw fouls, and a lot of speculative knocking the ball into the area, but not much competent football being played.
The second half was more lively, as Bayern began to execute the game-plan and create some chances. The best was created by Mueller, whose behind-the-back bottom of the foot pass set up Robben clean through on the goal. But Fabianski was there with a nice save, and Bayern was kept off the score-board:
It felt like neither side would find a way through, and Bayern was set to advance with an unimpressive but good enough performance. But with less than 4 on the clock, Koscielny got his head to a corner and brought the overall aggregate scores level at 3 apiece. With Bayern's only advantage coming from the away-goals rule, we could do nothing but try to kill the clock.
Which we did, Robben and Mueller killing enough time in the corner to end the tie. But it was a non-confidence-inspiring win for Bayern to say the least. We went long periods without creating scoring chances; the few chances we did create turned to nothing; and our set-piece defending problems reared up again. All the same, we advance to the quarterfinals, with the draw to determine our next opponent coming up soon.
- If this was a test to see if Kroos and Mueller could lead the team in the absence of Bastian and Ribery, they failed pretty abysmally. Mueller had some good moves and created a few half chances with his energy. But neither looked in command of the match, and the one thing Kroos usually brings no matter what else (his dangerous long shot) deserted him today. Robben was more energetic and threatened Arsenal's back line, but even then, it's clear we need Ribery to get the most from our offense.
- Our twitter followers already know this, but today marked exactly one year since the (previously) last time a CL match was decided by the away goals rule. Last year, it was Inter escaping in the Round of 16 thanks to away goal rule. Yeah, that doesn't fill me with confidence.
- We'll discuss possible opponents later, but here's a quick run-down: we can play anyone left, regardless of Groups or domestic league. Possible opponents:
I'll do another post with a poll, scouting report, etc. For now, I need to digest today's match and hang my head for a bit. Thanks for reading.