Mar 13, 2013, 5:03 PM EDT
Arsenal were outshot 23-5 and only created two chances, a formula that should have given them little chance to narrow the 3-1 lead Bayern Munich accumulated three weeks ago in London. But one of those shots was Olivier Giroud’s third minute goal. The second was Laurent Koscielny’s 85th minute header. Although Arsenal was dominated for the 81 minutes in between, the Gunners entered the final five-plus minutes of today’s match tied at three – one goal short of the most remarkable comeback in UEFA Champions League history.
Whether time ran out or reality woke up, Arsenal never found their history-making goal. Perhaps predictably, they never came close. Bruised by not defeated, Bayern saw out the final five minutes plus three minutes of stoppage time to move into the Champions League quarterfinals. Away goals served as the tiebreaker after Arsenal’s 2-0 victory at the Allianz Arena left the teams tied on aggregate, 3-3.
The final scoreline seems ridiculously close given the extent to which Bayern dominated the two legs. After falling 3-1 at home, Arsenal was given almost no chance on the road against the consensus best team in Europe. Even after their early goal, the task seemed impossible, particularly after they finished the first half outshot nine to one while barely holding the ball.
The numbers were worse by full-time, and only a 10-minute spell where Bayern tried to bleed out the match made the possession number respectable (54-46). But at the end of that spell, a Santi Cazorla corner kick was converted by Koscielny, equalizing for the Gunners.
Given the lopsided nature of the game, a 0-0 would have been a generous score. A 1-0 result would have been a rarity, but a 2-0? Arsenal was already dwelling in the realms of the remarkable. To ask for 3-0 would be too much, yet there they were, one freak play away from the unfathomable.
To their credit, Bayern buckled down and saw out the match, but their willingness to let Arsenal push them to the brink engenders serious doubts. This is not the type of performance we usually see from championship teams, and it’s not hard to imagine what teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus, and even Borussia Dortmund would do giving similar opportunities. Arsenal is a decent team that was having an average day, yet they almost knocked Bayern Munich out of Champions League.
We alluded to this last night when discussing the Sounders’ flat start: Why do certain tendencies always seem to come through? Is it because they’re innate to their teams? Or it is because we’re looking for signs those qualities exist?
Tonight, Bayern showed the kind of fragility that was discussed in the wake of their upset in last year’s Champions League final. Their performance at the Emirates gave them enough breathing room to survive, but if this Bayern Munich shows up in the later rounds, all of the otherworldly quality they’ve shown throughout a dominant campaign will be wasted. This can not happen again, yet given the narrative surrounding FCB, can we be so sure they’ll perform to their potential in these next five Champions League matches?
Perhaps today was just a bad day – ironically so, given their dominance of most of the match. But that’s where the fragility comes in. Bayern can control 95 percent of a game, but in that five percent, they’re capable of shooting themselves in the foot.
In that way, timing was on Bayern’s side. If you’re going to have a bad game, best have it at home, with a 3-1 lead, against a team nobody expected to compete for Champions League.
Thanks to that coincidence, today may prove no more than a learning experience for Europe’s best team.
Apr 25, 2015, 9:58 AM EDT
Can the Tigers maul the Eagles? Watch live online.
Apr 25, 2015, 9:47 AM EDT
Turf Moor is the place, and Danny Ings will lead the Clarets attack in a quest for safety.
Apr 25, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT
Can the R’s grab a crucial win in the London derby? Watch live online.
Apr 25, 2015, 9:44 AM EDT
USMNT back Geoff Cameron gets the start at right back, again, for Stoke City.
Apr 25, 2015, 9:42 AM EDT
Kelvin Davis wasn’t poor, but Saints are clearly missing the steady play of Fraser Forster between the sticks.
Apr 25, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT
Can Liverpool keep their faint top four hopes alive? Watch them live online, right here.
Apr 25, 2015, 9:28 AM EDT
There will be no Bafetimbi Gomis at all for Swans, while Ki Sung-yeung is relegated to the bench.
Apr 25, 2015, 7:15 AM EDT
Where and how to watch every single PL game live online or via the app during Week 34.
Apr 25, 2015, 7:07 AM EDT
USMNT winger/back DeAndre Yedlin is on the bench for Spurs.
Apr 25, 2015, 12:21 AM EDT
FC Dallas took the lead into halftime, but a second half red card to Blas Perez let Colorado sneak back for a point.
Apr 24, 2015, 11:10 PM EDT
Tony Pulis is known for turning around struggling clubs, but the West Brom manager says he is more than just a last resort.
Apr 24, 2015, 10:20 PM EDT
David Accam’s first MLS goal was enough for Chicago to down a NYCFC side that played more than 60 minutes a man down.
Apr 24, 2015, 9:38 PM EDT
Tim Howard takes on his former club Manchester United, while Brad Guzan looks to keep Manchester City off the scoresheet.
Apr 24, 2015, 8:50 PM EDT
Finding a club to pay his $150,000 per week wages is the only problem for Spurs.
Apr 24, 2015, 7:46 PM EDT
The Baggies must defend The Hawthorns as Liverpool is barely clinging on to top-four dreams.
Apr 24, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT
Clinging onto safety in the Premier League, Hull City players now have some added incentive to avoid the drop.
Apr 24, 2015, 5:37 PM EDT
Still in his first season as manager at Old Trafford, LVG has already endorsed his top assistant to be the next in line.
Apr 24, 2015, 4:42 PM EDT
Can Tim Sherwood and Aston Villa continue their climb up the table at the Etihad?
Apr 24, 2015, 3:42 PM EDT
PST’s Joe Prince-Wright sat down with the Southampton defender to see how the Saints’ skipper has evolved into one of the best center-backs in the Premier League.
Apr 24, 2015, 2:50 PM EDT
In the latest PST Extra we take a quick look at why whispers about managers losing their jobs at Liverpool, Man City are getting louder.
- Southampton 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur: Visitors twice come back from Pelle goals 0
- Watch Live: West Bromwich Albion vs. Liverpool (Lineups and Live Stream) 0
- WATCH: Premier League live online via NBC Sports Live Extra – Week 34 0
- Watch Live: Southampton vs. Tottenham Hotspur (Lineups and Live Stream) 0
- Premier League Preview: West Bromwich Albion vs. Liverpool 0
- SportsWorld: Jose Fonte talks playing with Ronaldo, shares thoughts on MLS 0