The knockout stage of the Champions League begins this week, with Premier League side Arsenal travelling to Germany to take on Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich on Wednesday night (7.45pm, BT Sport 1).
Arsenal made it through to the round of 16 of Europe’s premier club competition by finishing in first place in their group, which also featured Paris Saint-Germain, Ludogorets Razgrad and Basel. In some ways, Arsene Wenger’s charges were a little fortunate to end the first round at the summit of their segment. The Gunners were outplayed in both of their matches against Ligue 1 giants PSG yet managed to salvage a draw at the Parc des Princes and the Emirates Stadium, while Unai Emery’s men threw away their chance of top spot in matchday six by drawing 2-2 at home to Ludogorets.
Arsenal probably expected a kinder draw in the first knockout round given that they were guaranteed to avoid the likes of Atletico Madrid, PSG, Manchester City, Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and Barcelona. Instead the English club were paired with a team who have beaten them on several occasions in this Champions League tournament in recent years.
Bayern Munich were runners-up in their group, with a 1-0 defeat by Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon and a surprise 3-2 loss away to Russian outfit Rostov ultimately costing them top spot despite a 1-0 triumph over Atletico in matchday six.
Bet365’s Match Odds
9/20 Mayern Munich
The Bavarians may be through to the last 16 of the Champions League and on top of the tree in the Bundesliga back home, but they have turned in numerous mediocre performances in various competitions this term. Manager Carlo Ancelotti possesses a tremendous track record in Europe with Milan and Real Madrid, but Bayern are not playing with the same degree of control, intensity and all-round dominance as they were when Pep Guardiola was in charge at the Allianz Arena. Arsenal may take heart from that fact, but Wenger will be fully aware that Bayern remain formidable opposition on their day.
Arsenal will be without long-term absentee Santi Cazorla, who remains sidelined with a knee injury, while Aaron Ramsey is considered a doubt with a calf problem. Wenger has selected Alexis Sanchez (pictured) at centre-forward ahead of Olivier Giroud in his team’s last two outings and will probably do the same here. Alex Iwobi, Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott are the favourites to start in the line of three behind the lone frontman in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Bayern are unable to call upon Jerome Boateng (shoulder), while Franck Ribery is also set to miss out with a calf injury. Ancelotti is likely to line his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Thomas Muller supporting Lewandowski and Arjen Robben and Douglas Costa providing speed and dribbling ability on the flanks. At the back, Javi Martinez will be deployed alongside Mats Hummels in the absence of Boateng.
Our Preview’s Bayern vs Arsenal Betting Tips
Bayern may not be as strong under Ancelotti as they were under Guardiola, but they should still have enough quality to triumph in front of their own supporters in Wednesday’s first leg. The Bavarians possess a superior standard of player and, crucially, questions remain about Wenger’s approach in matches against the bigger teams, particularly away from home.
The Frenchman’s side have been defeated at Manchester City and Chelsea in the Premier League this season, and probably should have lost to Manchester United too. The Gunners will probably net a vital away goal, however, which is why a home win with both teams to score is this preview’s choice. It may also be worth putting some money behind wide man Robben to find the net. In summary here are our betting tips: