Bayern Munich vs Arsenal: Champions League Preview, Team News

With the Bundesliga title chase over, Bayern Munich turn their attention to the Champions League second-leg tie against Arsenal.
Arsenal FC v FC Bayern München: Quarter-final First Leg - UEFA Champions League 2023/24
Arsenal FC v FC Bayern München: Quarter-final First Leg - UEFA Champions League 2023/24 / Catherine Ivill - AMA/GettyImages
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With Bayer Leverkusen officially claiming the Bundesliga title, the Champions League remains Bayern Munich's only chance at a trophy for the season. While Bundesliga performances have been subpar and not up to Bayern's standards, the European nights have made for some better performances from Thomas Tuchel's side. Last week's trip to face an in-form Arsenal positioned Bayern Munich nicely for the second leg in Munich as the Bavarians left London even on aggregate.

Arsenal got off to a great start dominating possession and were able to strike first through Bukayo Saka in the 12th minute. Bayern would quickly equalize through a great counter-attacking goal by Serge Gnabry six minutes later. Following a slick piece of skill by Manuel Neuer, Bayern were able to break the Arsenal press, resulting in a foul on Leroy Sane that allowed Harry Kane to push Bayern ahead from the penalty spot. Leandro Trossard would level the score and send the tie back to Munich even at 2-2.

With the two-leg tie still hanging in the balance, Tuchel was able to rotate the squad a bit in Bayern's Bundesliga victory over FC Koln. With injuries again creeping into the squad, and a key suspension, what will Tuchel do as the season's most important match lingers?

Bayern Munich Team News

Manuel Neuer was given a rest on Saturday against Koln. I'm sure many supporters expressed concern when the club captain was not in the starting XI, but Tuchel decided not to take any chances as the 38-year-old will certainly be needed come Wednesday.

Joshua Kimmich has settled into the right-back role and looks to have solidified the position for the rest of the season and the spot in the German national team for the Euros in the summer. Kimmich will partner with Matthijs de Ligt and Eric Dier along the backline. While Dier could have done better with Gabriel Jesus in the leadup to Trossard's second goal, his distribution and composure will be needed.

Alphonso Davies didn't have his best performance in the first leg and quickly picked up a yellow in the 9th minute that will keep him out of the second leg. This will be Tuchel's biggest decision in this game as he looks at two options to contain Saka on the Bayern left flank. Raphael Guerreiro gives Bayern the creative option when in possession but lacks the pace to stay with Saka. Noussair Mazraoui will give Tuchel a better defensive presence, but not the same on-the-ball abilities Guerreiro provides. For what it's worth, Mazraoui played 60 minutes on Saturday in the left-back position. I think that is a good sign that Tuchel will go with the more defensive Mazraoui on the left for Wednesday.

Both Konrad Laimer and Leon Goretzka performed admirably in London last week. With Tuchel electing to play a 4-4-2, both sat and shielded the back four and pressed anything in between the lines. However, with a home match and a healthy Aleksandar Pavlovic, Tuchel will be expected to take the game to Arsenal. I see Pavlovic coming in for Laimer and Goretzka keeping his starting place. Jamal Musiala would have been a great option centrally, but with both Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman picking up injuries recently, I think Musiala is going to have to start on the left. Thomas Muller will come in as the attacking midfielder.

Leroy Sane was another player Tuchel elected to leave out of the matchday squad for Koln, giving the dynamic winger the extra rest for Wednesday's match. He should come back into the starting XI on the right side. As mentioned, with both Gnabry and Coman out, Musiala and Mathys Tel are the only reasonable options on the left, and I don't see Tuchel going with Tel for this important fixture so it would be Musiala. However, Tuchel will need to find a way to limit the space for Saka, which Gnabry did so well in the first leg, as I don't see Musiala replicating Gnabry's defensive work. Harry Kane will lead Bayern's attack at Allianz Arena.

Expected Bayern Munich Starting XI: Neuer - Kimmich, de Ligt, Dier, Mazraoui - Goretzka, Pavlovic - Sane, Muller, Musiala - Kane