Arsenal eyes Munich miracle
MUNICH - The Associated Press
Bayern Munich’s Thomas Müller (C) scores a goal past Arsenal’s goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny during the two teams’ first meeting in the Champions League round of 16. REUTERS photoArsenal must deal Bayern Munich its worst home loss in Champions League history to reach the quarterfinals but the Gunners believe that a miracle is still possible when the two teams meet tonight.
Bayern won the first leg 3-1 in London and is the highest-scoring team in this season’s Champions League with 18 goals, while Arsenal is one of the two teams with the worst defensive record with 11 conceded. Bayern has only lost nine times in 82 Champions League home matches, and never by more than 2-0.
Forward Gervinho believes a miracle is still possible and manager Arsene Wenger said the return leg was not mission impossible.
Bayern will be missing Franck Ribery and Bastian Schweinsteiger but Jupp Heynckes’ team is in such form that the coach gave his top players a day off after Saturday’s harder than expected 3-2 Bundesliga win over Fortuna Duesseldorf.
Arsenal will be without key midfielder Jack Wilshere, who was ruled out with an injury.
Ribery is out with an ankle injury, while Schweinsteiger and defender Jerome Boateng are suspended. Defender Holger Badstuber is out for the season with a knee injury.
Ribery’s place is likely to be taken by Arjen Robben, who missed a league game with a calf injury but is ready to play tonight.
Midfielder Thomas Müller said Bayern has to be focused and cautious as this is a knockout game.
“But we are not going to sit back and crowd the defense,” Müller said. “They have nothing to lose, they can attack all the way. We have to be careful.”
Bayern is dominating the season at home - it is 20 points ahead in the Bundesliga, it has reached the semifinals of the German Cup and is on the verge of advancing to the quarterfinals in the Champions League. Bayern is a four-time winner and was runner-up in two of the last three seasons.
If Arsenal is eliminated, England won’t have a team in the last eight for the first time since the 1995-96 season.
“We just need to keep positive and give everything we have. We all know anything can happen in football,” Gervinho said. “Personally, I still believe we can make it. I know it will be difficult, but I still believe in us.”
Bayern has won all three home games in the competition this season but Wenger believes his team can still go through.
“It is not mission impossible,” the Frenchman said. “It can be done, but first of all you need 100 percent commitment, attitude and things to go your way. But usually football goes your way when you have the right attitude.”