Arsenal (+210) vs Bayern Munich (+138), Draw (+280)
After a 5-1 crushing in Germany, Arsenal will have to pull off something extraordinary against Bayern in the second leg of their Champions League Round of 16 battle with Bayern Munich in order to progress. The two teams will face again at Emirates Stadium on Tuesday, March 7.
With a four-goal deficit to close, the Gunners are faced with a near-impossible mission. Beating any team by four goals is a hefty task. When that team is one of the best squads in the world, it’s time to cut your losses and turn your focus to something more attainable. The problem is that Arsenal don’t have much else to play for this season. They’re in fourth place in the English Premier League, with almost no chance of contesting the title. And they choked in the League Cup against 11th-place Southampton. All that’s left is the FA Cup and Champions League.
Arsenal were the clear underdogs heading into Munich, but they managed to close the first half in a pretty good position. Arjen Robben opened the scoring for Bayern in the 11th minute with a stunning goal from range, but Arsenal responded with a goal of their own when Alexis Sanchez caught the rebound of an unsuccessful penalty and knocked it into the back of the net.
The half ended 1-1, with Arsenal in a better position because of their away goal. It all went to waste in the second half. Arsenal’s star defender, Laurent Koscielny, was injured early in the half, forcing Wenger to make an unwanted substitution. That opened the floodgates for Bayern and the goals started pouring in.
Robert Lewandowski put Bayern up 2-1 in the 53rd minute; Alcantara Thiago made it 4-1 with a double; and, just for good measure, Thomas Muller was substituted on late in the game and made it 5-1.
Morale is now low at Arsenal. The players appear dejected, Wenger seems out of ideas, and the fans are calling for a complete overhaul of the club. The Gunners will have to come out guns blazing if they’re even going to stand a chance, and even that seems unlikely. I could say something about Bayern’s spectacular performance, about the amount of coordination and depth within the Bayern squad, but I don’t think that’s even necessary. Arsenal’s loss feels more like a self-inflicted wound. While they may have a better showing in the second leg, the problems within the club are too deep to overcome in just a next few weeks.
Pick: Bayern Munich (+138)