Mature Bayern performance knocks Arsenal out of UEFA Champions League in quarter-finals | Football News - Hindustan Times
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Mature Bayern performance knocks Arsenal out of UEFA Champions League in quarter-finals

By, Mumbai
Apr 18, 2024 05:18 PM IST

The Gunners ended the game without having a single clear-cut chance as the German giants booked a semi-final date with Real Madrid.

On the one hand there was Bayern Munich, a club that had just lost its 11-year stranglehold on the Bundesliga and faced uncertainty with coach Thomas Tuchel set to depart at the end of the season. On the other there was Arsenal, a club on the upswing and competing in the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in 14 years. It was expected to be a tight battle at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday, but all things considered, the hosts did enough to show that Mikel Arteta’s side still has a lot of catching up to do.

Bayern's players celebrate after the Champions League quarter-final second leg match(AP)
Bayern's players celebrate after the Champions League quarter-final second leg match(AP)

After earning a gritty 2-2 draw in the first leg at the Emirates last week, the Bavarians bounced back from their domestic setback to win 1-0 and knock Arsenal out of the competition for the fifth time. It was a clinical performance by Bayern, who showed they very much retain the muscle memory from their six UCL triumphs.

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Tuchel’s men set the pace early in the contest with Harry Kane, Leroy Sane, Noussair Mazraoui and Jamal Musiala forcing the Arsenal defence to scramble on multiple occasions. The visitors, like they did in the first leg, started dominating possession gradually with Martin Odegaard and Kai Havertz getting shots on target. Gabriel Martinelli then had the best chance of the first half, but he couldn’t redirect his first-time shot to the far corner and ended up kicking the ball straight to Manuel Neuer.

Although there wasn’t much to choose between the two teams in the first half, Bayern turned up the heat immediately after the break as Leon Goretzka’s header struck the crossbar and Raphael Guerreiro’s rebound shot hit the post. The hosts kept building swift attacks and were rewarded soon after the hour mark when Joshua Kimmich’s thunderous header broke the deadlock.

Despite being in the lead, Bayern didn’t shut shop and went on to create a couple of more opportunities through Sane and Musiala. Arsenal ended the game without having a single clear-cut chance as Bayern booked a semi-final date with Real Madrid. The hosts finished with more possession (51.4 to 48.6), more corners (8 to 3), and more shots on goal (15 to 8).

Sense of deja vu

For Arsenal, there would have been a sense of deja vu as a fourth successive trophy-less season seems imminent. They were atop the Premier League standings but a defeat against Aston Villa three days earlier allowed Manchester City to take the top spot. Not only do Arteta and Co have tougher fixtures in the final weeks of the season, but City will also have more energy now that they too have been knocked out of the Champions League.

However, what would have disappointed Arsenal fans more was the lack of fight by their players against Bayern. They had lost steam in the final stretch last season and there are hints of a similar sort of fatigue this time as well.

With Bayern showing incredible discipline and maturity in their play, the Gunners needed a moment of individual brilliance in order to carve open the defence. Like in 2008, when Cesc Fabregas broke the deadlock against AC Milan at the San Siro with a superb strike from 30 yards. Or in 2006, when Thierry Henry went on that dazzling run against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu. This Arsenal side, however, didn’t come close to creating such a moment.

“It wasn’t enough, that was true, to get the magic moment that is needed in this competition,” said Arteta after the game. “To unlock it, to make something happen when the game requires us to open that door. We didn’t have it and that’s why we’re out.”

To be fair, Arsenal have a young squad and deserve credit for the results they’ve produced over the past couple of seasons. And as Arteta suggested, it could take them years to truly match the best teams in the world. But for them to maintain this upward trajectory, learning from the lessons they receive, like the one dished out by Bayern, will be imperative.

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