Bayern Munich v Arsenal: Below-par Bayern could struggle again

Things aren't running smoothly for Carlo Ancelotti at Bayern Munich
Things aren't running smoothly for Carlo Ancelotti at Bayern Munich
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Bayern Munich and Arsenal have once again been thrown together in the last 16 of the Champions League, and our Bundesliga expert Kevin Hatchard believes the Gunners may not get a better shot at knocking Bayern out...


"Bayern have conceded at least once in 11 of their 20 Bundesliga games, and they don't look as solid as they did under Pep Guardiola."

Back Both Teams To Score at 1.84/5

Bayern Munich v Arsenal
Wednesday February 15, 19:45
Live on BT Sport


Bayern Munich

One of the fascinating facets of football is that results rarely tell the entire story of a team's progress, or indeed lack of it. Bayern Munich are in a familiar position in the German Bundesliga, seven points clear at the top and closing in on a fifth consecutive league title.

However, Bayern have been far from convincing since the winter break, and moments of individual brilliance are saving them time and time again. In their first game of 2017, Carlo Ancelotti's side were being held at Freiburg, but one of the goals of the season from Robert Lewandowski snatched an undeserved victory in stoppage time.

At relegation-threatened Werder Bremen the Bavarian giants nearly blew a two-goal lead, and at the weekend only a brace of last-gasp goals from Arturo Vidal and Arjen Robben secured a 2-0 win at Ingolstadt, who are in the bottom two.

All too often this season, Ancelotti's Bayern have been too ponderous in their build-up. They haven't been tearing teams to shreds in the way they did under Pep Guardiola or Jupp Heynckes. When Thiago doesn't play, there is a lack of creativity through the centre, and in Ancelotti's preferred 4-3-3 the ball is pushed out wide too often.

There are also defensive issues. Although Bayern have the best defensive record in the Bundesliga, they have only kept nine clean sheets in 20 league games, and they do look more vulnerable than in seasons gone by. They have dropped points in three of their last seven home games in the Bundesliga, and I would say that over the course of the whole campaign they have only hit top gear a handful of times.

Franck Ribery and Jerome Boateng are both back in training after injury, but are unlikely to feature. Mats Hummels and Javi Martinez are likely to be the defensive partnership, while Douglas Costa may continue to deputise for Ribery.


Arsenal

Gunners fans will have no doubt groaned when the draw for the last 16 was made. Arsenal had finally won a group, only to be paired once again with a Bayern team that knocked them out of the competition in 2013 and 2014.

It should be remembered that in both of those ties, Arsenal avoided defeat at the Allianz Arena. They gave the German champions an almighty scare with a 2-0 win in 2013, and drew 1-1 in Munich the following year.

With Arsenal's title hopes seemingly fading in February yet again, there's a temptation to think that there will be a sense of déjà vu in this competition too, with the north London side having been knocked out at this stage of the Champions League in each of the last six seasons. The market certainly thinks Arsenal will fall short again - they are a hefty 3.55/2 in the To Qualify market.

Travelling Gunners supporters should at least be confident that their team will carve out a few chances. Arsenal haven't drawn a blank away from home since August, when they were held to a goalless draw at Leicester City. In the Champions League they scored eight goals in their three away games at PSG, Ludogorets and Basel, and in the Premier League they've rattled in at least three goals in an away game on six occasions.

Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla are still carrying injuries, but in general the Gunners' sick list has contracted significantly in recent weeks.


Match Odds

Bayern are 1.511/2 to win this, and that feels a touch short to me. Although they have been securing good results, Carlo Ancelotti's side haven't been playing well, and the transition from Pep Guardiola's style of play has been awkward to say the least.

Opta tell us Bayern have won their last 15 home games in the Champions League, the longest such run in the competition. If their star players like Robert Lewandowski and Arjen Robben sparkle as we know they can, then they'll do Arsenal some damage. However, of all the meetings between these sides in the Champions League of late, this feels the most like one where both sides are in with a shot.

If you back Arsenal +1.0 on the Asian Handicap at 2.1211/10, you'll have an odds-against winner if Arsenal win or draw, and you'll only lose you stake if the Gunners are beaten by two goals or more.


Both Teams To Score

Bayern haven't been as tight defensively under Ancelotti as they were under his predecessor, and Arsenal almost always score away from home. Ten of Arsenal's last 12 away matches in all competitions have seen both teams find the net, and I'm happy to back that outcome again at 1.84/5.


Half Time

Bayern are 2.0421/20 to be leading at the break, but it's worth noting the following. The Bundesliga champions have been in front at half time in just four of their last 11 Bundesliga matches, and they only had the lead at the break in half of their Champions League group games.


Recommended Bets

Back Both Teams To Score at 1.84/5
Back Arsenal +1.0 on the Asian Handicap at 2.1211/10


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