'We deserved to go through'
History repeats itself? Not at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday night. Almost exactly 12 months ago Bayern were in danger of failing to progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League right up to the final whistle. And this time? Yet again it was the second leg of a Round of 16 tie with Arsenal as opponents, and yet again FCB held a two-goal lead from the first leg. But this time there were no scares. “We were never in danger of going out. It was a commanding performance,” declared Thomas Müller, summing up the 1-1 draw that takes FCB through to the last eight.
The stats reflect the superiority of FCB over the team lying third in the Premier League, as FCB had 14 to 7 shots on goal, 27 to 11 crosses, and 67 percent possession. “We did very well overall,” said Arjen Robben. Manuel Neuer added: “All in all, I think we deserved to go through and we can be happy.” Even Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger, whose team had to make up a two-goal deficit, admitted: “We didn’t really manage to put them under pressure.”
Pep Guardiola left the Allianz Arena “very happy”. The plans of the FCB head coach - to keep Arsenal out of the game, avoid losing the ball, and stifle the Gunners’ counter-attacks - all came off. “We wanted to control the game and we achieved that,” said Guardiola, “we succeeded in minimising our mistakes and we played at a very high level. Except for the goal we conceded, which could have been ruled out for a foul, nothing else happened. It’s all good.”
'No serious problems'
“We didn’t give anything away, we created a lot but sadly didn’t manage to score,” was Robben’s analysis of the Reds’ dominance that lacked only the killer finish. “We often got to the by-line but didn’t play the final ball,” said Guardiola.
As to the play, Bastian Schweinsteiger gave FCB an overdue lead on 54 minutes. Lukas Podolski put Arsenal back on level terms out of the blue three minutes later after winning the ball in somewhat dubious circumstances. “When you’re sprinting it only takes a touch and you end up stumbling - that was certainly the case here,” reported Philipp Lahm.
As Thomas Müller admitted, the equaliser “hurt a bit”. At the same time, it gave Arsenal renewed hope and they were able to compete on more equal terms. “That’s normal,” said Guardiola, “we had a few problems after they made it 1-1, but nothing serious.”
Leverkusen followed by the draw
Bayern continued to limit the Gunners’ goalscoring opportunities while creating one or two chances up front themselves. The best one fell to Müller but Arsenal keeper Lukasz Fabianski saved his penalty in added time. “I’ll obviously have to do better in future,” said Müller, “the keeper moved late, I wanted to change to putting it to the right but it didn’t quite work out.”
FCB could afford the miss on this occasion. Bayern now have to wait for the draw on 21 March. “There will be eight top teams in the quarter-finals,” said Robben, aware that the holders are certain to face another leading team in the last eight. The Reds’ next match is the Bundesliga home meeting with Leverkusen on Saturday. “They’re one of the teams we haven’t beaten this season,” Kroos pointed out. And hopefully there will be no rerun of that result.