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Bayern wary ahead of match against Arsenal

10 March 2014, 15:01

Munich - Bayern Munich won't be taking Arsenal lightly.

The defending champions lead Arsenal 2-0 from the first leg of the last 16, but Bayern will be on guard against the Premier League side after what happened last year.

Bayern only progressed on away goals after losing 2-0 at home when the sides last met in Munich. A repeat this time around would send the match to extra time.

Bayern also has the distraction of president Uli Hoeness' trial on tax evasion charges, which opened Monday in Munich. The 62-year-old Hoeness faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty, with a verdict expected this week.

Here are five things to know before Tuesday's game:

Breaking records

Bayern is enjoying a record-breaking season in the Bundesliga.

Saturday's 6-1 rout at Wolfsburg — secured with five goals in 17 minutes — was the side's league-record 16th straight win, while Bayern extended its league-record unbeaten run to 49 games.

The side's 72 goals in 24 games is also a record in the Bundesliga, where it remains on course to become the first side to complete a season without defeat.

Bayern has only dropped points twice in 24 games so far this season. A 20-point lead over Borussia Dortmund with 10 games to play means the title is all but decided.

Bayern has scored in a league record 61 successive games, and in each of its last 54 games across all competitions — since that 2-0 defeat to Arsenal 12 months ago.

Ruffling feathers

Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer's suggestion that other Bundesliga clubs do not train as hard as Bayern has drawn an indignant reaction across the league.

Borussia Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp said if he were Sammer he'd "thank God every morning" someone had the idea to bring him to Bayern.

"I don't think Bayern Munich would have one point less if Matthias Sammer wasn't there," Klopp added.

Klopp found support from Hannover general manager Dirk Dufner, who called Sammer's comment "arrogant," while Mainz general manager Christian Heidel said it was about buying players.

"If we had the opportunity to spend 130 million euros on players in two years we'd also be champions without Matthias Sammer's advice. It's not so hard then," Heidel said.

Sammer attempted to diffuse the row on Saturday.

"I only said what we're doing and that one or the other should think it over," Sammer said. "I even said I didn't want to express any criticism and so none should be taken."

Contrasting health

Bayern coach Pep Guardiola has nearly a full squad to choose from.

With the exception of Holger Badstuber, who is still working his way back after tearing the cruciate ligament in his right knee, all Bayern players trained normally on Monday.

Guardiola rested five players against Wolfsburg compared to the side that routed Schalke 5-1 the week before.

Franck Ribery played his first game for Bayern since surgery on his buttock, Xherdan Shaqiri his first since recovering from a thigh injury, while Thomas Mueller was back after a hamstring injury. They all staked their claim for a starting place against Arsenal by scoring in Wolfsburg.

Arsenal will be without key midfielder Jack Wilshere, who picked up a foot injury during England's 1-0 win over Denmark on Wednesday, while forward Theo Walcott is out with a knee injury.

Familiar faces

Arsenal's Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski play together on the German national team with Bayern's Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos, Mario Goetze and Mueller.

Podolski will be facing one of his former sides. The Polish-born forward spent three seasons at Bayern before returning to hometown club Cologne in 2009. His time in Bavaria was considered a disappointment, with 15 goals and 12 assists in 71 Bundesliga appearances.

Ozil also has a point to prove after being whistled by fans in Stuttgart when he was taken off near the end of Germany's lackluster 1-0 friendly win over Chile last Wednesday.

The former Real Madrid midfielder had come under criticism for a recent dip in form at Arsenal, but appeared rejuvenated on Saturday, when he scored one goal, set up another and worked tirelessly to help his side secure a place in the FA Cup semifinals with a 4-1 win over Everton.

"I think the goal was important for him," Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger said. "Physically he looked regenerated, with more power in his runs."

Familiar fate?

Arsenal has been eliminated from the Champions League at this stage for the last three seasons, and the club has never overturned a home first-leg defeat in European competition.

"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," Wenger said.

On the plus side, Arsenal has won on three of its last five visits to Germany, with the other two games ending in draws. The 1-0 group stage win at Borussia Dortmund improved the Premier League side's record in Germany to five wins, five losses and four draws. Its overall record against German sides is positive, with 14 wins, 10 losses and five draws.

Arsenal's away form in the Champions League is impressive, too. Defeat at Napoli was only its second in eight away games, qualifying included, with five of those games resulting in victories.

- AP


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