The first leg between Bayern Munich and Arsenal ended in a 3-1 win for the to-be German champions, who had complete control of the pitch for most of the match, not allowing more than a chance or two for the home side, leaving the stadium with a win that pretty much puts them in the quarterfinals.
Many looked to Arsene Wenger during and after the match. A rough week that began with a home loss against Blackburn in the FA Cup that put even more pressure on the manager to succeed in the first leg, at home, against a much better, continues to get worse. Not just a bad display and a loss from his team, but another hit on his own future at the club.
It simply looked like a match between two teams from a different class; Arsenal aren’t a big European club and not a good enough team to disrupt Bayern Munich who came very focused, beginning with a fantastic defensive match from Javi Martinez, to a clinical display upfront from Thomas Muller and Mario Manduzkic.
The opening goal for Bayern, with less than 7 minutes past the kickoff, was a perfect example of the difference in execution between the teams, and just how mis-matched Thomas Vermaelen is at left back. A brilliant series of passing eventually found a wide open Muller, giving it to the trailing Toni Kroos, wide open on his way to the penalty box, not needing more than one touch to score with a volley.
The second goal was more poor defending from Arsenal, as Daniel Van Buyten had no problem rising for the corner kick cross. Szczesny made the initial stop, but the Arsenal defense was left watching Thomas Muller react first and score from the rebound, putting it at 2-0 after the first 45 minutes.
Arsenal got a goal back through Lukas Podolski, in quite a bizarre manner. The terrible refereeing (a bad Svein Oddvar Moen) performance continued as Arsenal got a corner they didn’t deserve, as Lukas Podolski put it out of touch. Still, Manuel Neuer should have done much more than jump on the back of Dante, who was mistake free up to that moment, which left the German forward free to put Arsenal back in the match.
Arsenal had a brilliant chance in the 71st minute to level the score, as the Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud linkup began to work. Walcott moved a bit to the right and found Giroud in the middle of the box. As always, Giroud is great in positioning, but his finishing wasn’t as good, sending it straight to the body of Manuel Neuer, who parried the ball well.
Mario Mandzukic got a little bit lucky in Bayern’s third goal (77th minute), with the goal half going to Bacary Sagna with a failed tackle. Arjen Robben, for once, wasn’t the poster boy for selfishness, faking two defenders and leaving Philipp Lahm free to send the ball across the box, meeting with Manzdukic to make it 3-1.
The third goal seemed to break Arsenal, and Bayern took over the pitch. A slight touch on Mario Gomez from a Luis Gustavo shot nearly beat Szczesny, but the Polish goalkeeper reacted well to the deflection. Gomez was too rash with the rebound, sending the ball to the sky instead of having a little more patience.