Champions League: Arsenal – Bayern Munich Preview

Arsène Wenger believes Arsenal FC’s “quality, spirit and mental strength” can prevail against an FC Bayern München side Jupp Heynckes says is brimming with “hunger and motivation”.



Embattled Arsenal FC manager Arsène Wenger remains steadfast in his belief that his team can overcome FC Bayern München in the UEFA Champions League last 16 despite falling foul of an FA Cup shock at the weekend. While Wenger drummed home the need for the Gunners to show the “mental strength” to bounce back on Tuesday, Bayern counterpart Jupp Heynckes is keen for the runaway Bundesliga leaders to prove their appetite for success.

Arsène Wenger, manager

I have the experience to know it’s played over 180 minutes. We must put in our head that we have 180 minutes to qualify – we must not rush our game. It’s important to play to win the competition and at some stage we’ll therefore come up against good teams. I trust our quality, I trust our spirit and I trust our mental strength – so see you tomorrow!

It’s important we play with belief; we’re on a good run overall. The fact is that we’ve lost two of our last 11 league games. Nil-nil at home is a very good result in the Champions League knockout, but we’re an offensive team and we’ll try to go forward and score goals.

We have a way to play that everybody knows – we play with a positive mentality. We have the quality to win and the psychological aspect is more important than anything else. What’s important is to forget what people say and play to our strengths. We are playing for Arsenal Football Club in the last 16 of the Champions League. We have to show we have mental strength.

We’ve been consistently in the last 16 but what we want now is to break through. I think it’s a fantastic opportunity to do that because I believe we have a strong team.

Weekend result
Saturday: Arsenal 0-1 Blackburn Rovers FC (Kazım Richards 72)
Szczesny; Vermaelen, Koscielny, Monreal, Diaby; Rosický (Wilshere 70), Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Cazorla 70), Coquelin; Giroud, Gervinho (Walcott 70).

• Boyhood Arsenal fan Colin Kazim Richards struck the winner as second-tier Blackburn reached the FA Cup quarter-finals at Arsenal’s expense. Gervinho missed a handful of chances and Tomáš Rosicky’s effort come back off the crossbar, but Arsenal could not find a breakthrough and now have just this competition left to end their eight-year wait for a trophy.

Team news
There is “uncertainty” over the fitness of Laurent Koscielny (calf), while  Kieran Gibbs is out with a thigh injury and fellow left-back Nacho Monreal is ineligible. Thomas Vermaelen (ankle), Francis Coquelin (hamstring) and Jack Wilshere (thigh) all shook off minor knocks to play against Blackburn at the weekend.

Jupp Heynckes, coach
I think last season we had a great season but with Bayern if you don’t win a title then it’s not enough. This season we’ve changed in defence and what’s important to me is that every player must learn to defend and attack; every player is a defender and an attacker.

Two years without a trophy at Bayern – we have to do something about that. The players have that hunger and that motivation for success and that’s very important moving forward. We’ve shown this already in the league, in the cup and in the Champions League – that we have this desire and motivation. The Champions League is special because you play at a higher level so you need even more.

Arsenal are very good team, especially going forward, so we have to stand very tight in defence and then work our way forward. They’ve got a lot of tradition and history – they stand for passing football. They’re fifth in the league and they will be a very different opponent for us. You can really see how [Wenger’s] teams play as they have a real style and dynamic. I don’t have a result I wish for as such, but I think that we can win if we play at our very top level.

Weekend result
Friday: VfL Wolfsburg 0-2 Bayern (Mandžukić 36, Robben 90+2)
Neuer; Lahm, Van Buyten, Dante, Alaba; Schweinsteiger, Müller, Luis Gustavo, Ribéry (Robben 78); Kroos (Tymoshchuk 79), Mandžukić (Gomez 83).

• Bayern remain a massive 15 points clear of the chasing pack after starting the weekend in style with victory at Wolfsburg. Mario Mandžukić’s impressive overhead kick broke the deadlock before Arjen Robben wrapped up the win with his first Bundesliga strike of the campaign.

Team news
Jérôme Boateng begins a two-match suspension, though midfielder Javi Martínez has shrugged off a toe injury and looks set to be available. Claudio Pizarro (illness) and Holger Badstuber (knee) are absent.

Match fact
The teams met at this stage in 2004/05, Bayern establishing a 3-1 lead in the home leg with Pizarro scoring their first two goals. It was enough to take them through, despite Arsenal’s 1-0 win in the return.

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