Pep Guardiola is well known to be a perfectionist and even Saturday’s 6-1 win at VfL Wolfsburg has failed to fully satisfy the demanding Bayern Munich manager. Guardiola complained that his team allowed Wolfsburg too much possession in the first hour and has told them they cannot afford to make the same mistake in Tuesday’s Champions League last 16 tie against Arsenal.
“We scored four or five goals in a 20 minute spell but they were all on the counter-attack,” said Guardiola, whose side host Arsenal in Tuesday’s second leg with a 2-0 lead from the first match.
“We did not dominate the match in the way we have dominated previous games,” he said. “I know Arsenal very well. They are good enough to keep possession for a long time,” added the Spaniard. “We must dominate them with the ball.
“If we have the ball, we will get to the quarter-final. If Arsenal have the ball, they will get to the quarter-final.”
On paper, Arsenal appear to have an almost hopeless task against Bayern, who are threatening to better last season’s treble-winning performance when they won the Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League.
The Bavarians have won their last 16 Bundesliga matches and scored 26 goals in their last six. They have played 39 matches this season, including the German Supercup, European Supercup and Club World Cup, and won 34 of them, losing only twice. But there are some grounds for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to be hopeful as they attempt to avoid a fourth successive round of 16 exit.
Bayern’s last three matches against English sides at their Allianz Arena have ended in defeat. They were beaten on penalties by Chelsea in the 2012 Champions League final after a 1-1 draw, although the stadium was officially classed as a neutral venue for that game.
Bayern lost 2-0 at home to Arsenal at the same stage of the Champions League last season, after they had won the first leg 3-1. Then, Manchester City came from two goals behind to win 3-2in this season’s group stage.
Arsenal’s 4-1 win over Everton in the FA Cup on Saturday has given Wenger renewed optimism. “It was important for us to win, to put us in a good mind on the psychological front,” said Wenger.
“We can be inspired by our focus on the day, by our desire and go to Bayern with the same spirit. The statistics go against us when we go to Bayern, but let’s make sure that the performance goes for us. Then we have a chance.”
Live matches: Atletico vs Milan (12.30 am on Ten Sports); Bayern vs Arsenal (12.30 am Ten Action).