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Bayern best in the world - Wenger

18 Feb 2014 14:46:59

Bayern best in the world - Wenger

Bayern Munich are currently the best team in the world and favourites to win the Champions League, according to Arsene Wenger.

But the Arsenal manager believes his side are in a much better mental state to overcome the holders in their European re-match.

The Gunners welcome Pep Guardiola's all-conquering side to their Emirates Stadium home in north London for an eagerly-anticipated last-16, first leg tie on Wednesday.

Arsenal were knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern at the same stage of the tournament on away goals last year.

Since then, Bayern have gone from strength to strength and have only lost twice this season, to Borussia Dortmund in their domestic Super Cup and to Manchester City in the final group stage match of European club football's elite competition in December.

A year ago, though, it could have been all so different had Wenger's men not suffered a hefty 3-1 first-leg loss on home soil which effectively ended their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals before recording a remarkable victory in the return fixture in Munich.

And Arsenal manager Wenger says his side, who are still chasing trophies on three fronts after beating Premier League title rivals Liverpool in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Sunday, are primed to match fire with fire against the German giants.

"Last year, I believe we went out on the away goal," the Frenchman told a news conference at Arsenal's training ground on Tuesday.

"That shows you it is important it is not to concede at home. But we are in a much better mental shape than a year ago. And we are really determined to win tomorrow.

"We know we face the favourites of the competition. They (Bayern) win every game. They have won the World (Club) Cup and the European Champions League, so you can only say yes (they are the best team in the world).

"But we have belief because we have only had big games in the Champions League and the FA Cup -- Tottenham and Liverpool," Wenger added.

"Since the start of this season we have known we have had to be 100 percent for every game. We are in a strong position and now it's down to us to show how well we can show the same focus and spirit as we did against Liverpool for the rest of the season.

"I believe we can do it but that is down to tomorrow."

- 'Players are the heroes' -

While Arsenal and Bayern possess an abundance of quality in attacking positions, Wenger believes the Gunners' defence will prove as important if the Londoners are to reach the last eight.

Wenger, who is expected to recall Tomas Rosicky with Mikel Arteta ruled out through suspension, added: "With the qualities of the players on both sides it is virtually impossible to play without style.

"Football is not a chess game. In the history of the Champions League it is the big players who make the difference on the pitch -- the players are the heroes once the game starts.

"We have been strong at home recently because we don't give goals away and that will be important in this tie."

Jack Wilshere, the Arsenal midfielder, echoed his manager's comments and believes his team-mates must be more streetwise as they bid to topple Bayern.

"The Champions League is the pinnacle for any player and these are the games you want to be involved in and we will definitely be ready tomorrow," Wilshere said.

"We have spoken about the importance of staying in the game. If it is 0-0 at home we still have a big chance of qualifying. The away goal is massive, especially in this competition when it comes to these big games.

"You saw it last year when we went out on away goals. This year we have to be a bit more intelligent and stay in the game. Defensively we are confident and we know we can create chances with the players we've got."


AFP

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