Champions League: Bayern Munich overcomes Arsenal and reaches the semi-finals

Munich Germany – After three consecutive failures, Bayern Munich qualified for the last four of the Champions League, thanks to their 1-0 success on Wednesday evening at home against Arsenal (first leg: 2-2), who remain their favorite victim in the queen competition.

Thomas Tuchel’s men, forced to leave at the end of the season, will face Real Madrid in the semi-finals at the beginning of May, who eliminated defending champion Manchester City at the Etihad on penalties. The first leg will take place in Bavaria and the return leg in Spain.

The hero of the Munich evening is Joshua Kimmich, who has been placed on the right side of Bayern’s defense for several weeks. With a perfect header, wrong-footing Arsenal goalkeeper David Raya shortly after the hour mark, he secured his ticket to the semi-finals.

“Europapokalsieger! Europapokalsieger! Europapokalsieger FCB!” (“FCB European Champion!”), intoned the ultras of the Munich Südkurve.

Since its last European coronation at the end of August 2020 in Lisbon against Paris SG (1-0, goal from Kingsley Coman), Bayern had always seen the door to the semi-finals closed in its face, in 2021 by PSG, in 2022 by the Spaniards of Villarreal and in 2023 by the Citizens, future winners.

The first-leg draw on home soil at the Emirates (2-2) had simplified the equation for Manuel Neuer’s teammates: winning at home to see the semi-finals and taking out the Gunners for the fifth time after 2005 , 2013, 2014 and 2017 (each time in the round of 16), or lose and end the 2023/24 season without a trophy, a first since 2011/12.

The dream of Harry Kane, who came to Munich in the summer of 2023 to win titles, of winning the Champions League in his Wembley garden on June 1 took a first step on Wednesday.

Tactical battle

The spectacle of the first leg gave way on Wednesday in a cold Allianz Arena (4 degrees at kick-off) to a very tactical match between two teams visibly fearing each other.

Bayern Munich’s attacking left side posed the most problems for the London defense, Noussair Mazraoui in the 23rd minute and Jamal Musiala a minute later were the first to warm the gloves of Arsenal goalkeeper David Raya.

Sparkling at the Emirates, Bukayo Saka had more difficulty against Raphaël Guerreiro and Mazraoui, and the danger came more from Gabriel Martinelli, alone at 11 meters but whose flat right foot arrived directly at Manuel Neuer.

Dominant in the second half, the Munich players gradually put pressure on Raya’s goal. Leon Goretzka and Raphaël Guerreiro hit the posts, and the light came from this angry header from Joshua Kimmich on a perfect cross from Guerreiro in the 63rd minute.

The striker described the match as “excellent” on broadcaster DAZN. “We were excellent, particularly during the second half. We deserved to qualify although we could have scored several more goals,” said Kimmich.

After the opening score, Thomas Tuchel brought in the South Korean Kim Min-jae and the Frenchman Dayot Upamecano to densify his defense and hold out against the rare London attacks lacking inspiration on Wednesday evening in Bavaria.

The Munich team multiplied their chances without taking cover, but held on at the end of the game, after five minutes of added time.

For Mikel Arteta’s young gang, lacking experience in European summits compared to a seasoned Bayern (absent from the quarter-finals only twice in the last sixteen seasons), the objectives will now be refocused on the Premier League.

Second in the English championship with two points behind Manchester City, Arsenal will have six matches to put pressure on Pep Guardiola’s Citizens and try to snatch a championship title which has eluded them for 20 years already.

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