After a sluggish start where they failed to deal with the pace of Arsenal, Bayern Munich ended up playing beautifully, led by a Manchester United target…
Perhaps the statistic of the night was Arsenal completing 150 passes during their 2-0 defeat to a merciless Bayern Munich in the Champions League Round of 16 at the Emirates Stadium in what is a stark contrast to Toni Kross who, by himself, completed 144 passes… out of 149, an extraordinary 97% accuracy, which surpasses the standards set by Xavi for Barcelona the previous night - 125 passes completed versus Manchester City; 96% accurate.
Goals from Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller created a considerable distance between the visitors and Arsenal, who now are tasked with taking on Bayern at the Allianz Arena, a stadium in which they have won all 11 of their 11 Bundesliga matches thus far this season.
Of course, Arsenal shot-stopper Wojciech Szczesny's dismissal in the first half altered the flow of the match as, prior, the Gunners had been out-performing the reigning European Cup holders but there were a number of protagonists key to Bayern's revival after the break, including the composed Manuel Neuer, captain Philipp Lahm who was seemingly involved in the majority of the away team's positive play and Manchester United target Kroos.
Manuel Neuer - 8
Got down well to deny Yaya Sanogo an early Arsenal goal. Neuer dominated his penalty area and stayed composed and calm during Mesut Ozil's run-up before getting a glove to the attempted penalty conversion. His pitch IQ is high as he timed his run to clear a loose ball that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was pouncing on to, with perfection. Made five saves.
Dante - 6.5
If marks were tallied on barnets alone, Dante would have an 10 - what hair! Introduced himself to Jack Wilshere early on, with the Englishman ending up in the fetal position on the floor.
Jerome Boateng - 5
Was the guilty party in giving away the first half penalty - was it a weak call? It didn't matter in the end, Boateng (who was booked) was let off the hook as Mesut Ozil duffed the shot. Manager Pep Guardiola had been bellowing at Boateng throughout the first half so it was perhaps unsurprising to see him absent from the team who started the second half, with Rafinha taking his place.
Javi Martínez - 7.5
Was a pass master - he completed 68 of his 72 passes (94% accuracy), attempted four tackles, ten clearances, two interceptions and was successful in five of his nine aerial battles.
David Alaba - 6.5
As Gary Neville explained on commentary, 'there was nothing wrong with his technique', but his penalty-spot attempt was an inch to the wrong side of the post so it harmlessly bounced wide of the mark, rather than into the goal.
Philipp Lahm - 10
Had an outstanding first half, misplacing just one of his 40 pass attempts (98% accuracy) and did a marvelous job, positionally. His instinctive one-two'ing with Toni Kroos was vital in the capture of their first away goal. In the attacking third, Lahm completed 54 passes of 54 attempts. Arsenal could not stifle his intentions and it ultimately cost them. He was incredible in possession, misplacing just one pass of his 123 attempts - 99% accuracy!
3 - Philipp Lahm has assisted Bayern Munich's last 3 goals against Arsenal in the Champions League. Generous.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) February 19, 2014
Thiago Alcantara - 9
Grew in stature as the game wore on, but was replaced by Claudio Pizarro as Pep Guardiola went for the kill. Alcantara's contribution was substantial, 93 of his 99 passes connected with a team-mate, he completed 100% of his tackles, 50% of his aerial battles, made two clearances and one effective interception.
Toni Kroos - 10
Tested Wojciech Szczesny early with a strong left-footed drive from distance. Like he did with Szczesny in the first half, Kroos attempted a long-range effort early on in the second half, yet, like Szczesny, Fabianski was able to save. Broke Arsenal hearts with a sensational second half goal. It was a one-touch strike with not much back-lift but enough curve to glide the right side of the post and into the net. Attempted a ridiculous amount of passes (144/149), some of which were so precise, it would split the normally tight Gunners defence. Had been a target for David Moyes at Manchester United and, judging by this performance, he'll have made himself even more attractive.
Mario Gotze - 6
Wasn't on the ball as much as, say, Alacantara, he failed to complete any of his first half crosses, lost all his first half aerial duels but completed 20 of his 24 pass attempts and had a good ten minute spell from the 30th minute. By the game's end, he had failed to hit the target with any of his four efforts, failed to complete any of his five crosses, was unsuccessful in 66% of his dribble attempts, only successful in 25% of his aerial duels but was far more prolific in the pass, completing 93% of the time.
Arjen Robben - 6.5
Took his time over a dead ball situation moments after Ozil's penalty disaster, with an opportune moment to silence the Emirates Stadium crowd even further, however, he smacked his free kick into the wall before blasting the rebound over the bar.
Mario Mandzukic - 5.5
Was woeful in the aerial battle as he won just one of his six headed duels in the first half. He was brought off on the hour mark as he was rarely on the ball.
Substitutions: Rafinha - 6. Thomas Muller - 8, his first major contribution was a swiping - but seemingly innocent - hack. Claudio Pizarro - N/a.
image: © jiazi