Before every Arsenal fixture, we'll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners' next opponents.
Arsene Wenger's side take on Bayern Munich in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday, to find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox.
Pep Guardiola usually has a trick up his sleeve for major Champions League matches, as demonstrated by his surprise first-leg team selection, where Philipp Lahm started in his traditional right-back role, rather than in midfield - although he reverted to his central position at half-time.
Bayern Munich’s three matches since their 2-0 victory at the Emirates (a 4-0 win over Hannover, a 5-1 victory against Schalke and a 6-1 thrashing of Wolfsburg) demonstrated their tactical flexibility and the versatility of several first-team regulars, and Guardiola might name a very different side for the second leg.
The games against Hannover and Schalke saw Javi Martinez drop back into the centre of defence, the role he played in the second half at the Emirates.
"Ribery drops extremely deep to collect the ball, before dribbling quickly past opponents with his lightning acceleration"
Right-sided Jerome Boateng had a difficult evening in the first leg, removed at half-time as he was on a booking and had made a subsequent foul without further punishment, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Martinez start at centre back this time around. A tall, imposing figure, he’s also excellent on the ball and can step forward to start attacks.
Also significant has been the return of experienced midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger. The Germany international was an unused substitute at the Emirates after a three-month injury absence, but returned for Bayern’s subsequent two league games. He completed 90 minutes in Germany’s 1-0 friendly win over Chile last week, and was an unused substitute at the weekend - perhaps Guardiola was keeping him fresh for this second leg.
The weekend thrashing of Wolfsburg also saw the return of Franck Ribery, Bayern’s best player during their Champions League success last season. Having missed the first leg with buttock surgery, he’s available for the second leg and would give compatriot Bacary Sagna a tough evening.
Ribery drops extremely deep to collect the ball, before dribbling quickly past opponents with his lightning acceleration, and provides directness to complement Bayern’s ball retention.
The Wolfsburg game also saw Thomas Muller start up front - he plays deeper than Mario Mandzukic and links play more fluidly - but the Croatian will probably return for the visit of Arsenal.
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.