UCL quarter finals: Arsenal seek to contain Kane, Guardiola wants a Spanish imposition

April 9 – Returning to the Champions League quarter-finals after a 14-year hiatus, Arsenal and their manager Mikel Arteta will seek to banish old memories of humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich on a Tuesday of blockbuster action that also sees Real Madrid host Manchester City once more. 

After a drab round of 16 with few high-octane matches and few surprises, the Champions League looks set to ignite tonight with just eight teams matched up in a set of mouth-watering draw.

There is of course a great degree of familiarity with the eight clubs but at the same time, those ties are shaped by history and narrative.

Arsenal have suffered three ­successive 5-1 defeats against ­Bayern, losing 10-2 on aggregate in the round of 16 in 2017.

The London club have never beaten the Germans in a knockout tie but will seek to create their own history on Tuesday in the first leg which will be played without visiting fans after they were banned for throwing fireworks on to the pitch at Copenhagen and Lazio in the group stages.

“I see the energy change in the players,” said Arteta at a news conference.

“Their belief, their body language, actually how much they are looking forward to it, how protected they feel. It’s like a cushion there to tell them, and a wind blowing on their backs, ­saying: ‘Go for it, we are right behind you.’ And you can sense it. When we are able to do that at home it is ­extraordinary. The changes, you feel things in your body, and [tonight] we have to feel that. We have to be ready for every ball.”

The London club have been in outstanding form, competing at the top of the Premier League table and eliminating Porto in the last 16 following a nail-biting penalty shoutout that according to Arteta generated belief and can be the catalyst for greater things to come.

It will be key for Arsenal to keep Munich striker and former Tottenham forward Harry Kane quiet. The Bavarian side have endured a poor season by their own esteemed standards, but even so, Kane has been a consistent goal scorer, breaking Bundesliga records in his debut season.

There could be plenty of goals in the evening’s other tie between Real Madrid and defending champions Manchester City at the Bernabeu Stadium. Last season, Pep Guardiola’s team eliminated the Spanish club with a rampant 4-0 second-leg win in a match that some considered City’s best-ever in Europe.

Man City went on to clinch the treble and their maiden European Cup. Guardiola is confident that his side can retain the trophy and demanded that his charges punish their illustrious opponents.

“We cannot come here just to control the game, we have to come here to try to hurt them, to punish them, to let them know we are here to score the goals,” said Guardiola.

“We are talking about Real Madrid and their ability to control many aspects of the game. We have to impose our game with who we are.

“They will be able to press high, be so aggressive. If you can do a good progress [passing move], they will drop. But everybody knows the strengths from transitions they have with Rodrygo, [Jude] Bellingham, [Federico] Valverde, Vinícius Júnior.”

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