Jupp Heynckes told FC Bayern München to be “vigilant” when they host Arsenal FC, citing the visitors’ near comeback against AC Milan last year as proof the tie is not over.
Coach Jupp Heynckes cut a cautious figure as he spelled out the challenge for FC Bayern München on Wednesday against an Arsenal FC side shorn of the injured Jack Wilshere.
A 3-1 away win has left the runaway Bundesliga leaders on the verge of a UEFA Champions League quarter-final place, but Heynckes is taking nothing for granted. He highlighted last season’s round of 16 as cause for concern, when Arsenal came within a whisker of wiping out AC Milan’s 4-0 first-leg advantage. “Arsène Wenger,” he warned, “is always full of ideas.”
While acknowledging the size of his team’s task, Wenger hopes the Gunners can “surprise everybody” by overturning their deficit.
Jupp Heynckes, coach
We had a very good day against Arsenal [in the first leg]: the first half was excellent, the second quite good. But Arsenal are still Arsenal. For many years they have played great football. I remember [last season] Arsenal lost the first leg 4-0 to Milan but then won 3-0 at home, nearly scoring a fourth goal.
Arsène Wenger is always full of ideas; it is always difficult and dangerous against his teams. We have to remain vigilant, even if we won the first game 3-1. Success came to Arsenal when Arsène Wenger arrived. For many years they played the best football in England, if not always the most successful. But you can see how many top-class players Arsenal have sold over the last few years.
Our recent games in the Bundesliga were not easy. Importantly we showed against Düsseldorf that we can always react and fight back. It showed how strong our bench is and what they can do if called upon. Our signings this season were very good, both on the field and off it. Guys like Dante, [Xherdan] Shaqiri and [Mario] Mandžukić have fitted right in.
We are not paying attention to the hype around us. People are saying we are the best team in Europe; that does not affect us. There are so many strong teams in Europe and to reach the final you always need a little luck. So my team remains calm and down to earth. We have a long way to go.
Saturday: Bayern 3-2 Fortuna Düsseldorf (Müller 45, Ribéry 74, Boateng 86; Bolly 16, Lambertz 71)
Neuer; Lahm, Boateng, Van Buyten, Alaba; Luiz Gustavo, Schweinsteiger; Müller (Pizarro 72), Kroos (Shaqiri 68), Ribéry; Mandžukić (Gomez 61).
• Jérôme Boateng scored his first Bundesliga goal in his 130th German top-flight match as Bayern came from behind twice to win. With Borussia Dortmund and Bayer 04 Leverkusen both losing, Heynckes’ side are now 20 points clear at the summit. Bayern have won eight in a row in the Bundesliga in 2013, the best ever start to a calendar year in Germany’s elite division.
Boateng and Bastian Schweinsteiger are suspended, Franck Ribéry is sidelined with a sprained ankle, but Arjen Robben is set to return after sitting out Saturday’s game with a calf problem.
Arsène Wenger, manager
It is a big blow that Wilshere will miss the next three to four weeks. It is a difficult task [overturning a 3-1 deficit], but we know it is not impossible. The only way to succeed is to play as well as we can. We will give our best and football is football – anything is possible. We need a good mixture of determination and discipline.
We have a lot of experience and we’ve won everywhere in Europe before, so we have the right to still believe in ourselves and show our qualities. I hope we will surprise everybody. Yes, we have some injured players, but we still have many good players and there is no team without weaknesses. Of course, I won’t tell you Bayern’s, but every side has its weaknesses. It will be a test tomorrow, a test of our mental qualities.
Bayern are dominant and confident. They are mentally very strong and don’t have any doubts about themselves. Maybe that is the difference between them and us. I believe in my players. I have a lot of respect for my team and their attitude. We have not been rewarded for that, perhaps this will happen tomorrow.
• The Gunners were not in action as scheduled opponents Everton FC were on FA Cup duty. Arsenal’s own ambitions ended with a 1-0 loss to second-tier Blackburn Rovers FC on 16 February in the last 16 – suffering FA Cup elimination by lower-league opposition for the first time under Wenger. It was their first FA Cup defeat at home in 35 matches.
Wenger confirmed that Wilshere will not be available because of an ankle injury sustained last week. Kieran Gibbs has not featured since suffering a thigh strain on 30 January.
• Bayern’s only reverse on home soil against English visitors came in the 1993/94 UEFA Cup second round when Norwich City FC won 2-1. Excluding last season’s final, their last four home UEFA Champions League games against teams from England have ended in victory.