Arsenal Are Not Pushovers and Bayern Must Not Be Complacent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alexis Sa?nchez free kick 2” (CC BY 2.0) by Ronnie Macdonald

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carlo Ancelotti” (CC BY 2.0) by Doha Stadium Plus

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.  

Bayern’s strength in depth will make them impossible to surpass

Carlo Ancelotti

Carlo Ancelotti” (CC BY 2.0) by Doha Stadium Plus


Bayern Munich have began the Bundesliga season as they finished the last one in complete control of the division, despite the change in manager over the summer. Carlo Ancelotti has picked up right where Pep Guardiola left off as the Bavaria-based club have won all five of their matches to begin the campaign.

Bayern are aiming to win the Bundesliga for a fifth-straight season, and already look irrepressible in their bid for the German top-flight crown, despite the quality shown by Borussia Dortmund. As a result, the club are backed in the latest Bundesliga betting odds at 1/7 to win the title, and Ancelotti’s men have got off to the perfect start for their assault on the league.

One of the major factors that has helped the club create a stranglehold on the division is their recruitment, which was highlighted in their move for Mats Hummels from bitter rivals Dortmund along with the signing of one of the most promising players in Europe – Renato Sanches.

Hummels has gone straight into the team and not only provides strength at the back next to his Germany international team-mate Jerome Boateng, but his departure significantly weakened Thomas Tuchel’s side, who were left scrambling for a replacement.

Bayern already had the strongest squad in the division, with the firepower of Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller leading the line. Both strikers have scored a mountain of goals for the club since combining their talents in 2014 in a partnership that strikes fear into the hearts of every defence in the league.

Ancelotti’s team’s greatest strength is their midfield where they have an embarrassment of riches, which has only be increased by the performances of rising star Joshua Kimmich. The 21-year-old has enjoyed a brilliant start to the campaign, scoring two goals in his new role after being pushed forward by the Italian from full-back.

His passing ability and movement, especially in the final third has added further potency to Bayern’s game. The sight will please Ancelotti as between Kimmich and Sanches he could have two of the brightest prospects in the game at his disposal for many years to come.

For all of their brilliance, one aspect that can never be overlooked is experience. Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben have had a torrid time with injuries over the past couple of years, and it’s testament to Bayern’s skills in the transfer market and quality on the pitch that they have dominated even without the presence of the duo.

Both players were the stars of the Bayern team that drove their side to their triumph over Dortmund in 2013 in the Champions League final. However, their fitness problems have limited their impact, with both men reduced to playing roles from the bench.

Ribery showed signs that he still has the potential to play a crucial role for the club even at the age of 33 when he replaced Kingsley Coman in his side’s clash against Hamburg. The Frenchman came off the bench in the second half and caused havoc down the left wing, creating Kimmich’s late strike that handed Ancelotti’s men the three points. The result proved Bayern’s incredible strength in depth and proved that it will take a momentous achievement to overhaul them at the top of the Bundesliga this term.

Bayern Munich players to star at Euro 2016

Being on the cusp of a potential treble should require no extra motivation or focus from Bayern Munich, but Pep Guardiola will have to ensure that his players remain committed to the cause instead of having one eye on the upcoming European Championship in France.

 

The team have clicked into gear at just the right time of the season, with the club’s recent passage into the Champions League Semi-Finals where they will face high-flying Atletico Madrid putting them within touching distance of ending a three-year barren spell. It promises to be an intriguing battle between two coaches with contrasting philosophies, yet have enjoyed considerable success on and off the pitch. Bayern’s chances of European glory may be improved if they are able to wrap up the Bundesliga title early, and with a seven-point advantage over Borussia Dortmund with just four to play, it could be decided on Week 32 at Hertha Berlin – four days before the team travel to Spain for the first leg against Atletico Madrid. Bayern are certainly considered one of the strong favourites with Coral to triumph in Europe, and with the DFB-Pokal also in Guardiola’s sights, the coach will have to ensure his stars remain focused on the tasks ahead.

 

Bayern are privileged to have a number of international stars within their squad, and while fans may find it difficult to switch their allegiance to their native Germany, they will have the chance to watch several of the club’s players represent their country at Euro 2016. Germany could have up to five Bayern players in Joachim Low’s squad, and although Manuel Neuer will play an integral role once again between the posts, all hopes will be on Thomas Muller to lead the line. The 26-year-old has enjoyed another wonderful season in front of goal, with nineteen goals in twenty-eight Bundesliga appearances a fantastic return from a player who has flourished since being switched from midfield into attack. Germany are strongly fancied to do well this summer, and with Muller likely to be a contender to finish Euro 2016 as the tournament’s top scorer, he could be the man that fires his country to glory.

 

David Alaba, who recently celebrated his 100th Bundesliga win in the 3-0 victory against Schalke at the Allianz Arena, played an integral role for Austria as they stormed through qualification with nine straight victories to book their place at Euro 2016 where he will look to stamp his authority on the international stage. The 23-year-old has enjoyed another strong season in Bavaria, with his versatility being of great use to Guardiola; being able to play at left-back and centre-back has certainly proved useful when Bayern have been short of numbers at the back, and while Alaba is played in his preferred position of defensive midfielder for his country, Muller and Robert Lewandowski have certainly profited from his marauding runs and creativity down the left flank. He certainly brings many qualities to the table which is rather impressive for a player at such a young age, and although the rest of the squad is previewed here on Coral’s website, Alaba will be pivotal to how Austria fare at Euro 2016. They are by no means a one-man band, however, with the likes of Marc Janko, Marko Arnautovic and Aleksandar Dragovic also names to look out for when Austria, who could surprise a few people if they take their qualifying form into the tournament, take to the pitch.

 

It is difficult to find any more superlatives to describe Lewandowski, with the clinical striker getting better as every season passes by. The 27-year-old has enjoyed yet another prolific season in front of goal for club and country; twenty-seven goals in just twenty-nine league appearances means that he is the Bundesliga’s top scorer, while thirteen goals in ten qualifying games for Poland proved to be crucial for his country as they finished runners-up in Group D behind Germany. Being the leading scorer for club and country is something that has become unerringly natural to Lewandowski who has developed into one of the best strikers in world football, and while he may be the reason that Poland are considered darkhorses in the latest Euro 2016 tips, all hopes rest on his shoulders to continue delivering the goods.

Dortmund match Bayern but Bundesliga title could be clinched next weekend

It was a case of ‘anything you can do….’ this weekend in the Bundesliga, with both Bayern and their nearest rivals, Borussia Dortmund, coasting to 3-0 home victories. The identical results maintained Bayern’s seven-point lead at the top of the table and, with only four games left, it is possible for Pep Guardiola’s team to clinch yet another title next weekend when they travel to Hertha Berlin.

dortmund-stadium

 

 

 

 

 

 

Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund” (CC BY 2.0) by  wuestenigel 

Dortmund recovered from their shattering UEFA Europa League defeat to Liverpool with a comfortable win over Hamburg at Westfalenstadion. Two goals from Adrian Ramos paved the way to a confidence-restoring victory for second-placed Dortmund, with a first Bundesliga goal for Christian Pulisic sandwiched between the Colombian forward’s double strikes. Coach Thomas Tuchel was helped in his quest to close the gap on Bayern by a red card for Hamburg’s goalkeeper, Rene Adler, on 52 minutes, although the hosts were already 2-0 up by this point.

Of course, Bayern had extended their lead at the top of the table to ten points with a 3-0 victory over Schalke on Saturday, with Robert Lewandowski taking his season’s tally to 27 league goals with a brace at the Allianz Arena. But Dortmund responded on Sunday to set up a pivotal round of games next weekend, which could see the Bundesliga title decided.

Undoubtedly Bayern face the tougher prospect this weekend, and both teams also play a German Cup game in midweek, but there are some interesting odds at http://extra.bet365.com/news/en/football/bundesliga if you fancy Bayern’s chances of clinching the title again with three games remaining.

Thursday had seen Dortmund twice relinquish a two-goal aggregate lead in the Europa League tie at Anfield, to be beaten by Liverpool at the death with an injury-time Dejan Lovren header. Meanwhile, Bayern prevailed in a similarly nail-biting UEFA Champions League clash with Benfica, winning 3-2 on aggregate to secure a semi-final date with Atletico Madrid.

But if anyone thought that Dortmund would be psychologically damaged by their devastating collapse at Anfield, they had underestimated the steely resolve which has ensured they have remained the only serious challenger to Bayern in a Bundesliga campaign that has been a two-horse race for much of the season.

Dortmund sit a full 20 points ahead of third-placed Bayer Leverkusen, but their efforts in keeping in touch with Bayern in top spot could come to nothing on Saturday if they drop points and Bayern win.

Relegation-threatened Stuttgart – sat precariously above the drop zone in 15th place – welcome Dortmund on Saturday, while Bayern visit Hertha Berlin, who currently occupy fourth place and the final Champions League spot. It would seem Dortmund face the easier prospect, but certainly if they draw and Bayern win, the points difference will be nine points with three games remaining and the title will be all but decided, barring a monumental collapse in Bayern’s form and a considerable swing in goal difference. If Dortmund lose and Bayern collect maximum points in Berlin, they will be crowned Bundesliga champions once again.

Why Lewandowski and Muller are right to snub English clubs

Bayern Munich’s Polish striker, Robert Lewandowski, has pulled no punches when responding to rumours linking him with a move to the English Premier League.

Having been linked with both Liverpool and Manchester United by media outlets all over Europe throughout this season, Lewandowski eventually hit back at the reports by claiming English clubs were still lagging behind Bayern. This is despite the huge influxes of cash at clubs like Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United.

The evidence this season is that Lewandowski is absolutely correct. Both Chelsea and Manchester United have faced significant struggles for form in the Premier League. Former Bayern boss Louis van Gaal is coming under intense pressure from United supporters after breaking the club’s record for Premier League matches without a win. Meanwhile, Chelsea sacked manager Jose Mourinho after their worst ever start to a Premier League season.

The question of why he would want to move to England, when Bayern are flying high, and many of his alleged suitors are not necessarily looking likely to clinch Champions League football for next season, is a good one. Bayern’s dominance means they are at odds of 1/100 at the time of writing in the Bundesliga betting and Pep Guardiola’s men are 11/4 to win the Champions League. But still the rumours persist.

Lewandowski played under Jurgen Klopp during his time at Borussia Dortmund, and there are suggestions that the German, now manager at Liverpool, would like to take the Bayern man to Anfield to help with his Merseyside revolution. Liverpool, however, are way off the pace in the Premier League and even though Lewandowski might relish the chance to work under his old boss, would he really want to be playing his football for a mid-table English side during the peak years of his career?

Should Lewandowski leave – and recent reports have suggested that he is perfectly happy at Bayern and not seeking a transfer – it seems that Paris Saint-Germain or Real Madrid would be more likely destinations. Like Bayern, those clubs play in the Champions League every season. If Lewandowski lifts European football’s most coveted trophy with Bayern this season, perhaps he will seek to win it with another club by moving on.

The January transfer window, which always brings around a certain number of far-fetched rumours, also saw Thomas Muller linked with a £70 million move to Old Trafford to link up with former Bayern boss Van Gaal at Manchester United.

The reports suggested Muller was to be offered a staggering £300,000 weekly salary to try and turn around the ailing fortunes of a club that dominated English football for so long under Sir Alex Ferguson. But Muller, like Lewandowski, has shown no signs of having his head turned, and it is to the credit of both players that money simply doesn’t talk for them.

There are very few clubs that can offer the standard of football and team spirit that Pep Guardiola has nurtured at Bayern. Top players like Lewandowski and Muller won’t jeopardise the success of their careers for a gargantuan salary.

No doubt such rumours will resurface if Pep decides to take one of the jobs in English football that he is being linked with when he leaves the Allianz Arena. Until then, it seems sensible to simply ignore them.