After failing to top their Champions League group for the first time since the 2009-10 season, Bayern were lucky to be drawn against Arsenal and not one of the favourites to win the tournament. In that season seven years ago the German giants also received a kind-looking draw against Fiorentina and ended up progressing all the way to the final. The Bavarians will be glad they are up against opponents that they have knocked out at the same stage twice in the last four seasons, but would be wise to be wary as this Gunners side are a cut above the teams they have recently faced.
Arsenal are flying high in the Premier League and have become a devastating force since Arsene Wenger opted to field Alexis Sanchez as his sole striker. The Chilean star is without a doubt world class and elite clubs have recently shown interest in the forward. Sanchez has already notched 12 goals and 6 assists in the Premier League, and 2 goals and 3 assists in the Champions League this season. Compare that to Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski, who has bagged 11 goals and 2 assists in the Bundesliga and 5 goals in Europe, and there is not much to split the two players.
Bayern are the clear-cut favourites with the bookies to emerge from the two legs as victors, but bettors who believe Arsenal can cause an upset could stand to win big on Wenger’s men. As of mid-December, the best Bitcoin betting online sites have placed Arsenal at 21/10 to make it to the quarter final, while regular online bookies have odds around that price as well. If Arsenal came through, those with faith would more than double their money.
Bayern have had somewhat of a stuttering start under Carlo Ancelotti compared to recent years. Although they have only lost once in the league, they have drawn three times and have allowed their competitors to keep the pace. Amazingly, RB Leipzig are level on points with the Reds. Ancelotti’s men also slipped up in the Champions League group stage, losing to Atletico Madrid and FC Rostov. This allowed Diego Simeone’s side to finish top and earn a draw against Bayer Leverkusen who sit at 8th in the current Bundesliga standings.
According to the Independent, Arjen Robben has already started to prod Arsenal. The Bayern forward goaded Wenger’s men by saying that the last 16 tie was like a final for them, and the London club only have ambitions of making it to the quarter finals for the first time in seven years. Intriguingly, that was the same season in which Bayern last came second in the group stage- an omen perhaps?
Whether you are superstitious or not, some may believe that it is foolish of Robben to start kicking the hornets’ nest. For the first time in a long while the Gunners appear to be a force to be reckoned with, and on a mission to put right the wrongs of recent years. Bayern must not get complacent.