The phrase “men against boys” was never as evident as Bayern’s utter demolition of Arsenal this past Wednesday in the first leg of their round of 16 meeting in the Champions League. And we thought Barcelona’s outing in the previous day against PSG was a one sided affair.
Not only were Arsenal outclassed with the ball, they were nowhere near the physical levels of the well-oiled machine that is Bayern Munich.
Arsenal did have glimpses of an attacking presence on the counterattack, taking advantage of Alexis Sanchez’s pace against the likes of Martinez and Hummels and eventually did get a goal after Lewandowski caught Koscielny’s foot in the penalty area. The penalty was taken in the most Arsenal-like way by Alexis, taking 3 hits at it to finally smash it home, giving every fan a near heart attack.
And just like that Arsenal were 1-1 going into halftime with a crucial away goal, albeit very lucky. Any sense of optimism Arsenal fans had leading up to the second half had been crushed in less than just 10 minutes of the second half. It felt like the inevitable was happening right before our eyes – goal after goal. In those situations you are forced to simply swallow your pride as an Arsenal fan and accept that Bayern are the superior team. Technically better with a supreme work rate, not many teams in the world stand a chance.
Although highlighting certain individuals and barraging them with blame is never beneficial after a game, it is understandably done in the heat of the moment where fans are emotional and need to summon a scapegoat. In the case of this game, Coquelin’s moment of madness leading up to Robben’s beautiful curling effort past a helpless Ospina left many people in utter disbelief. You could just hear whispers of “don’t let him cut in on his left foot…” Even from people who don’t follow the sport.
To be fair to Coquelin, he is not the first victim to fall prey to Robben’s signature move. He has made a living doing it. Robben cutting inside from the right wing on his infamous left foot is a sight that everyone in the world is all too familiar with seeing. Despite this, Coquelin should have been more proactive and at least tried to force him back outside or block off the shot. This instance has once again perfectly showcased the naivety of Arsenal.
Traveling to the German giants and coming up short is understandable, but the manner in which Arsenal got completely dominated was soul wrenching. Bayern looked like men while Arsenal looked like little boys in the park trying to get a kick of the ball against the big kids.