Bayern focus on Arsenal

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Pep Guardiola has said Bayern Munich must ignore their first-leg lead when they host Arsenal in the Champions League against the backdrop of club president Uli Hoeness' trial. Picture: Louafi Larbi

Munich, Germany – Pep Guardiola has said Bayern Munich must ignore their first-leg lead when they host Arsenal on Tuesday in the Champions League against the backdrop of club president Uli Hoeness' trial.

Holders Bayern host the Gunners in the Champions League's last 16, second-leg tie at Munich's Allianz Arena with a 2-0 advantage from the first leg in London.

But the return comes amidst the distraction of Hoeness' high-profile trial in Munich, which is expected to last until at least Thursday, where he is accused of tax fraud.

On Monday, Hoeness' lawyer revealed the Bayern boss has cheated the taxman out of 18.5 million euros ($25.5 million) Ä more than five times the amount previously thought.

Guardiola has said his players must not allow Hoeness' case to distract them and forget about their two-goal lead.

“Uli Hoeness is the most important person in this club,” said Bayern's head coach.

“The best help we can give him is if we win.

“We need to forget what happened in London.

“If we try to manage the result, based on the first-leg victory, then we will have big problems.

“Everybody thinks that after the 2-0 win in London, they (Arsenal) have no chance, but that is our problem.

“Arsenal are a very good team with a lot of quality in midfield, especially with (Mesut) Ozil, (Mikel) Arteta and others.”

Bayern are all too aware that in an almost identical situation last March they lost 2-0 to Arsenal in Munich having won 3-1 in London at the same stage in the competition.

“We have learnt our lesson, that was a good warning,” said Bayern's Germany winger Thomas Mueller after Munich only progressed on away goals 12 months ago.

“I am not just going to just assume that we won't lose 2-0 again.”

While the Hoeness case is dominating the German media, midfielder Toni Kroos, who has been linked to Manchester United, said the players will ignore it for 90 minutes.

“Of course, we are following the case, but we are professionals and can blend it out,” said Kroos, whose contract expires in June 2015.

“We'll be focused on the football, that is what the president also wants.”

And as Mueller put it: “when the whistle blows, no one has any other thoughts than the game.”

Bayern are bidding to reach their fourth Champions League final in five years, having lost in 2010 and 2012 before winning last season's Wembley final.

They have made no secret of their desire to become the first team to defend the title.

But Guardiola, who lifted the trophy as Barcelona's manager in both 2009 and 2011, knows the enormity of the task.

“That's why we're not the favourites (to win the final in Lisbon on May 24) and it's a good thing for us,” he said.

“This shows the difficulty of winning the Champions League.” – Sapa-AFP


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