Two games. Two very different outcomes. On Oct 20, when Bayern Munich went to London, even Arsenal fans didn’t have much hope of a victory. After all, Arsenal had just lost to Olympiacos. And yet, Arsenal pulled off a 2-0 victory. Arsenal fans’ dying embers of hope were rekindled and suddenly there was a renewed sense of possibility as the Gunners went to Munich for the rematch. Looking back, it seems foolish to have expected anything other than the 5-1 dismantling of the Gunners by the ruthlessly efficient Bayern squad.
The reality is Bayern has very different playing styles. It’s always a controlled possesion driven game for Bayern – in both games, Bayern dominated possession. But in London, they used possession as a defensive weapon. They seemed content to keep Arsenal in check. And they managed that for 77 minutes. A handful of late goals for Arsenal and suddenly it was 2-0. At home, Bayern used possession to create relentless offensive pressure and wave after wave of attack through the middle. 63% of Bayern’s possessions made it to the attacking quarter (vs. 28% for Arsenal) of the pitch. Added to that, Arsenal’s defense was atrocious and seemed completely out of sync as they tried to contain the attack and win the ball back.
The visual of possession here shows where each possession ended – look at Bayern going left to right – almost every yellow dot is in the attacking zone. Now look at Arsenal’s possession ends – so many possessions ended in the defensive and midfield parts of the pitch.
Key difference maker: Thiago Alcantara
Thiago was incredible for the reds – he created 2 big chances, 3 through balls, 5 interceptions, won 8 of 11 duels, had 22 entries in the forward third of the pitch, 1 assist, completed 43 of 51 final third passes and also led in touches and passes.
Look at the visual of Bayern’s offense below. Each circle represents a shot – and the size of the circle represents the quality of the opportunity. There were 5 goals in green, and there were 4 other large blue circles in the middle that could very easily have been goals.
Arsenal’s goalkeeper Cech had 13 shots that got through the defense to him – he made some great saves, but in the end was beaten five times as shown by the five red dots in the visual below.
As if all of this wasn’t tough enough for Arsenal, Olympiacos scored a late goal to win 2-1 against Dinamo Zagreb. Arsenal now find themselves at the bottom of their group hoping for an improbable set of positive outcomes, while Bayern sit comfortably atop in control of their destiny in the Champions League.
Originally Published on Univision Deportes at: http://www.univision.com/deportes/futbol/uefa-champions-league/bayern-desmantelo-al-arsenal-por-5-1-en-casa-con-revancha-en-champions-league