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Wenger: Munich is 'mission possible'

Manager banks on history to give Arsenal belief in Champions League but weight of evidence favours Bayern Munich.

Last updated: 11 Mar 2014 13:56
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European champions Bayern come off the back of a 6-1 thrashing of Wolfsburg as they prepare to host Arsenal [AP]

Arsene Wenger pointed to historical achievements when measuring his Arsenal team's chances against Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday night – but will also know that the Germans have both history and form on their side.

Wenger's men go to the home of the defending champions needing to overturn a 2-0 defeat in the first leg in London to reach the quarter-finals.

And he is counting on the fact that they came away from Bavaria with that exact scoreline last year to be a morale boost to the Gunners, even though Bayern still went through on away goals.

Bayern by the numbers

119 goals this season
 49 unbeaten in the Bundesliga
16 Bundesliga wins in a row
 5 goalscorers in double figures
3 defeats in all competitions since the start of 2013

"It is a possible task, that is the most important thing," Wenger said at a press conference in Munich.

"My team has quality and ambition. History is important in our belief. We know we can do it, because we have already done it before.

"The way to win is to produce a top-level performance and turn up with quality and belief."

Pep Guardiola's team, meanwhile, have no need to reflect on their history – which is far greater than Arsenal's, including as it does five European Cups and a treble last year – to prop up their spirits going into the tie.

Every match the Bavarians play breaks more records.

They are now an astonishing 49 matches unbeaten in the Bundesliga, and have broken a German record with 16 wins in a row.

Thrashings

The most recent of those came on Saturday. A goal down against Wolfsburg, they struggled at 1-1 for most of the game before scoring five goals in 17 minutes to record a 6-1 away win, and their biggest of a season that has seen them hand out multiple thrashings.

A mixture of almost total confidence and a refusal to be content with a winning position has provided the basis for Bayern's form, and stars such as Franck Ribery, Dante, Arjen Robben and Thomas Muller know that they can go for the kill all the better if they respect the opposition.

My team has quality and ambition. History is important in our belief. We know we can do it, because we have already done it before.

Arsene Wenger, Arsenal manager

"We have a good chance to go through but it is still a dangerous situation. Arsenal have a lot of quality," Guardiola, who is aiming to defend the treble of Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League won by Jupp Heynckes last season, said.

"Arsenal are a team that can come back from a two-goal deficit. We cannot allow Arsenal to play their game tomorrow or we will be in trouble."

Muller, the 24-year-old Germany midfielder who has 22 goals in all competitions this season, said the charges of tax evasion being faced by Bayern president Uli Hoeness would be no distraction as the team bid to become the first to retain the modern version of the European Cup.

The man described by Guardiola as "the most important person at the club" after being in charge for 30 years since his playing days in Munich, went on trial on Monday and could face a jail sentence if found guilty of avoiding to pay millions of euros in tax.

"We will try to focus on the game. When the whistle goes for the start then everything else is shut out," Muller said.

"I do not expect it to have any negative affect."

Tuesday's other tie sees the weight of history on the shoulders of both teams, for different reasons.

Abject

Seven-time champions AC Milan are having an abject season in Italy, lying 37 points behind leaders Serie A leaders Juventus in 10th, and desperate to cling to their European hopes as they travel to Atletico Madrid 1-0 down from the first leg.

Atletico, meanwhile, are in the ascendency.

They are seriously challenging to be the first team in 10 years to break the Barcelona-Real Madrid stranglehold in the Spanish Liga, and if they beat Milan they will reach the Champions League quarters for the first time since coach Diego Simeone was a player in 1997.

While the road to the final becomes clearer for two teams on Tuesday, the majority of their fans will be left watching on television even if the dream becomes reality.

More than one-third of the 61,000 tickets for Lisbon on May 24 will go to officials, sponsors and corporate hospitality, with just 37,000 going to fans and the general public, European governing body UEFA said on Monday.

Last year's final at Wembley, when Bayern beat Borussia Dortmund, saw 59,000 tickets allocated to the public and 27,000 to other concerns.

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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