Arsenal were left rueing their inability to finish atop of their Champions League Group once again as they were dealt a tough draw against Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the Champions League. Saying that, Manchester United did win their respective Group and perhaps came off worse; a mouth-watering tie with Real Madrid awaits Sir Alex Ferguson’s men.
However it is a testament to the stunning season that Bayern are currently having that one of the most feared teams left in the competition, Borussia Dortmund, were the team who beat Madrid to the summit of their Group. Currently Bayern Munich are 12 points clear of Dortmund after 17 rounds of the Bundesliga so if that doesn’t help paint a picture of the sheer magnitude of the task at hand for The Gunners then nothing will.
For one of Arsenal’s newer stars it will be a tie of added significance.
Lukas Podolski left his hometown club 1.FC Koln in June 2006 signing for Bayern in a €10 million deal. The likes of Liverpool, Werder Bremen, Hamburg and Real Madrid were all interested in the then 21-year-old after he had impressed for his club side and the German national side.
He arrived with plenty of promise as one of Germany’s hottest prospects but in reality what occurred was not a pretty three year stint for ‘Poldi’. His first season saw him grab just seven goals in 34 appearances for The Bavarians and in the summer of 2007 Bayern spent big in the transfer market. The arrivals of Miroslav Klose and Luca Toni made his first team opportunities diminish and despite striking up a good partnership with fellow Polish speaker Klose in Europe he managed just ten goals overall in 41 appearances.
He also suffered the indignity of being asked to play for Bayern Munich II on two occasions that season as he struggled for form after niggling injury problems persisted.
With the arrival of Jurgen Klinsmann that summer he saw his first-team opportunities rapidly decrease; reduced mainly to coming on from the bench.
He left for hometown club Koln in the summer of 2009 and has since started to recreate his career and now at Arsenal he has shown glimpses of his imperious national team best.
Since he left Bayern in acrimonious circumstances he has only ever been on the winning side once against his former employers; an incredible 3-2 win in February 2011 and scored against them once back in 2010.
To gain his revenge against a team he feels never gave him the chance to succeed he will want to do better than his previous meetings with his former club.
Do you think Podolski can exact revenge on his former employers?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald