One could use a whole range of adjectives to describe Bayern Munich’s 10-2 aggregate win against Arsenal in the last 16. Many wondered if the second leg even needed to be played after Bayern won the first leg 5-1, but the neutral cannot say they were bored watching Tuesday’s match (well... maybe the big scoreline caused a few to change the channel).
Here are some observations in Bayern’s 5-1 victory against Arsenal.
David Alaba got away with a bad performance
Bayern had trouble handling Arsenal’s enthusiasm and quick counter-attacks, and that was partly because David Alaba decided going forward was more important than defending. Sure, he won two balls in the air and had a tackle, but too many Bayern players had to put out too many of his fires. He has used his athleticism to become an above average defender, but he did not have the defensive instincts Bayern needed on Tuesday. Good thing the tie was already in hand, even before the red card occurred.
What to say about those penalty decisions...
To be fair to all Arsenal fans that were screaming at the television, Laurent Koscielny’s sending off was a little arbitrary. First, in comparing the two penalty shouts – Xabi Alonso’s clumsy challenge on Theo Walcott and Koscielny’s misguided tackle of Robert Lewandowski – it’s hard to say one is not a penalty and one is. But then Tasos Sidiropoulos rushing to take out his yellow card, only to take out the red moments later, undermined his authority. Regardless of the penalty, Arsenal’s competitiveness cannot hinge on Koscielny’s presence on the field – nine of the ten goals in the two legs combined came when he came off the field.
Bayern’s depth continuing to show
A suspended Philipp Lahm, Douglas Costa and Thomas Müller on the bench and Bayern still managed to put this performance together. Douglas Costa and Renato Sanches were stellar off the bench, and Rafinha did fantastically well filling in for Lahm. Bayern have had a substitute score for them in five of the last six games, which just shows how difficult Ancelotti’s team selection is every week.
Defenders now in yellow card danger
The first half didn’t go well for Bayern, but the ramifications are much bigger than the goal they conceded. Javi Martinez and David Alaba both picked up their second yellow cards, which means both could conceivably be suspended in the second leg against Bayern’s quarterfinal opponent. Jerome Boateng could replace Martinez if he regains fitness by April, but he is on two yellow cards himself. Bayern mostly know how to stay out of the books, but now there is a worst-case scenario that could really get them into trouble.
Bayern proved they are Champions League favorites
If the first half was Bayern at their worst this season, that is a very, very good sign for the Bundesliga champions. Trying to control a game against a desperate team is always difficult, but they showed signs they were going to get through it and get the result they needed even before Koscielny’s red card. They have showed in the last four games what their upside truly is, and that upside is probably higher than any other team in Europe.