Champions League Review

9 March 2017

Arsenals were annihilated by 5 goals to 1 at the Emirates by a dominant Bayern Munich as they went out of the Champions league at the last 16 stage yet again.

Arsenal 1 Bayern Munich (Agg 2 – 10)

What’s the time Arsene Wenger? Ten two could be the reply as that was the aggregate margin of defeat against the far superior German Champions with Ribbery and Robben at the helm. I don’t know about Ribbery and Robben but Arsenal needed Batman and Robin to get them out of the hole they’d dug for themselves in Bavari at the end of February when they were destroyed by a rampant Bayern by 5 goals to one.

What’s the time Arsene Wenger? ‘Time to go’, say an ever-increasing number of supporters as the Gunners were mullered at home in what was an emphatically embarrassing workout at the Emirates.

Wenger can moan his heart out as much as he wants and he surely did blaming the referee and other officials after the match however the truth is Arsenal just weren’t good enough and Bayern Munich were ruthless as they tore the Frenchman’s team apart. Mirroring the same score as in the first leg.

For the seventh successive season following a second-half capitulation against Bayern Munich they were knocked out of the Champions League at the same final 16 stage as the Gunners were reduced to ten men as Bayern were awarded a penalty that Lewandowski scored that also resulted in the sending off of defender Laurent Koscielny.

The debated decision in the 53rd minute shattered any hopes of the Gunners becoming the first side in Champions League history to overturn a four-goal deficit. Instead we had to wait 24 hours for that piece of history from Barcelona.

This was after Arsenal had led through Theo Walcott’s stunning 20th-minute goal and gone into the break 1-0 up with some mini optimism. It didn’t last long though.

Following Lewandowski goal the home side collapsed as Bayern scored four goals in 17 minutes. Arjen Robben robbed Alexis Sanchez of the ball and beat Ospina, before Douglas Costa made it 3-1 with a stunning solo goal.

Fellow midfielder Arturo Vidal grabbed a late double, first with an impudent chip before slotting in from Costa’s square pass.

The 10-2 aggregate defeat is the worst suffered by an English side in the Champions League and it was Arsenal’s biggest home loss since November 1998 (5-0 against Chelsea in the League Cup).

Only one Champions League tie has seen a greater margin of victory for a team – Bayern Munich v Sporting Lisbon (12-1, 2009)

Few expected the Gunners to perform a miracle, but they did at least expect to take the fight to the German giants.

Some might debate whether Koscielny deserved a straight red but, under new laws regarding penalties, the referee was right to amend his initial decision to award the defender a yellow. The Gunners’ similarly folded when the Frenchman came off injured in the first leg with the scores 1-1.

Arsenal’s initial target of scoring four goals would have still taken the contest into extra time. Any chance of that happening ended when Robben nipped in to steal the ball away from the feet of Sanchez, who was inexplicably trying to play the ball on the edge of his own area. Sanchez had a horrid game and his mind seemed to be elsewhere.

The team lost heart thereafter and allowed Costa to run 50 yards before the Brazilian cut inside and curled in a brilliant 20-yard strike.

Vidal’s double came late and in quick succession. First an error by Shkodran Mustafi was punished with a cheeky dink, before the Chile midfielder tapped in Costa’s pass and thereafter the final whistle could not come soon enough for Wenger and his team.

The main attention was on the ‘Wenger Out’ demonstration before kick-off. A large gathering of fans made it known outside the ground that they did not want the Frenchman in charge of the club any longer and Wenger has yet to decide whether to accept the contract extension or leave the club he has managed since 1996.

The protests and finally now this heavy defeat might have brought the 67-year-old closer to making up his mind. Can Arsenal bounce back is the question?


Napoli 1 Real Madrid 3  (Agg 2-6)

A second half fight back by Real Madrid saw them defeat Napoli 3-1 after finding themselves 1-0 down at half time.

Real Madrid reached the quarter-finals with a 6-2 aggregate score line and although Napoli were utterly dominant in a one-sided first half and took the lead on 25 minutes when Marek Hamsik put Dries Mertens through on goal they simply could not muster enough creative influence in the second half to damage the Spanish giants.

Captain Sergio Ramos scored one and was instrumental in another as his header was deflected in by Mertens after the break to put the holders in control. Alvaro Morata then followed up Cristiano Ronaldo’s shot to complete a comfortable victory.

The Spaniards have now reached their seventh successive Champions League quarter-final and are unbeaten in their last 12 Champions League matches (W7, D5) that is their longest run without defeat in the Champions League or European Cup.


Borussia Dortmund 4 Benfica 0 (Agg 4-1)

Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a hat trick as the German side demolished Benfica to find safe passage into the Champions League quarter-finals.

Benfica were 1-0 from the first leg but Aubameyang levelled the scores after just four minutes on the clock with a header at the back post.

Winger Franco Cervi twice came close to scoring a vital away goal for Benfica before the interval.

But Dortmund took control after Christian Pulisic their 18 year old winger scored just before the hour mark when he brilliantly chipped out coming goalkeeper Ederson after a slick pass by Lukasz Piszczek.

Aubameyang who it has been whispered might be heading the Premiership next season swept in Marcel Schmelzer’s low cross in the 63rd minute before an unmarked Marc Bartra hit the post from a corner. The African striker completed his treble with five minutes remaining as he turned in Erik Durm’s sublime pass.

Dortmund have reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since 2014.

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