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UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Bayern Munich vs Arsenal preview

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Having prevailed with a 2-0 victory over Hull City on Saturday, Arsenal will be confident enough to deliver a strong performance against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 clash on Wednesday night.

Bayern Munich however, earned three points in the weekend, thanks to stoppage-time strikes from Arturo Vidal and Arjen Robben against Ingolstadt. Under Carlo Ancelotti, Bayern have not looked at their devastating best, yet they remain favourites for the mouthwatering clash against Arsenal.

As far as the team news is concerned, Arsene Wenger has confirmed he will stick with goalkeeper David Ospina. The Colombian featured in all six group matches earlier in the season and will be restored ahead of first-team goalkeeper Petr Cech.

"I have nothing to hide there, it will be Ospina because of the quality of his performances," Wenger told in his press conference.

"We are in the last 16 and finished top of the group. If you analyse his performances in every single game we are where we are because of his great performances," he added.

Left-back Nacho Monreal could also return to the starting eleven, while striker Oliver Giroud would hope for a start too.

Granit Xhaka, who has been suspended domestically, returns to the squad, as does fit again defender Per Mertesacker. A hamstring injury has ruled out Lucas Perez out of this tie, and the Spaniard joins the Aaron Ramsey (calf) and Santi Cazorla (Achilles) on the sidelines.

Playmaker Mesut Ozil’s place in the starting XI looked a doubt due to his subdued performances lately, but Wenger has hinted that the German would start on Wednesday.  

"I have no doubt that we play in Germany and Ozil is highly focused to have a good performance tomorrow,’’ Wenger said.

"Ozil has been playing for us for many years now and he knows perfectly our team and he knows how we want to play in every match. So it is an important match.’’

Meanwhile, Bayern Munich defender Mats Hummels expects the "world-class" Ozil to be in the Arsenal team that faces his side.

"For me, it was a surprise that Mesut is doubtful to play," said the Bayern defender. "He is a world-class player and someone who is always put on the field. I think he will be on the pitch tomorrow from the first minute because he is a class player."

Hummels will pair up with Javi Martinez at the heart of Bayern’s defense, as his first-team partner Jerome Boateng is out with a shoulder injury. Winger Franck Ribery is expected to miss out as well, but midfielder Xabi Alonso seems to have recovered from a knock to the knee that had forced him out of training on Monday.

Bayern Munich have eliminated Arsenal in their three previous Champions League knockout encounters, all in the last 16 (2004/05, 2012/13, 2013/14). The most recent encounter ended in a 5-1 drubbing, but Arsenal have battled hard in recent seasons against better opposition and could pose a threat to Ancelotti’s susceptible Bayern.

Tune into www.tensports.com for live streaming the match between Bayern Munich and Arsenal on February 16, from 00.30 am.

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