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Gunners set for germany’s best

Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey has urged his team to learn from their previous mistakes as they bid to resurrect a stuttering season against Bayern Munich in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday.

The prospect of an eighth consecutive season without silverware swam sharply into focus at the weekend when Arsenal were eliminated from the FA Cup by second-tier Blackburn Rovers. With Arsenal having already gone out of the League Cup to fourth-division Bradford City and with a 21-point deficit to make up on leaders Manchester United in the Premier League, it leaves the Champions League as the London club’s only viable shot at a trophy.

Arsenal’s last two experiences of the round of 16 have ended in disappointment, with a 4-3 aggregate defeat by Barcelona in 2011 followed by a loss to AC Milan by the same scoreline last year.

The 2006 finalists’ hopes of European glory last season were crushed in a 4-0 first-leg loss in Milan, and Ramsey says his side cannot afford to let the tie with Bayern get away from them. ‘Of course Bayern will be a tough game, but we are confident that on our day we can give anybody a good match. We will all have to be switched on the night,’ he said. It was a different story in the previous campaign, when Arsenal beat Barca 2-1 in the home leg, only to go down 3-1 at Camp Nou, and Ramsey says a similarly positive first-leg performance will be required on Tuesday.

‘We put ourselves in a good position against Barcelona, but unfortunately did not take it into the second leg. Then, against AC Milan it was a big mountain to climb, which we nearly did at home (by winning 3-0),’ said the Welshman.

‘Hopefully this time we can get in another strong position in the first leg, and I am sure we will be more experienced about what to do in the away leg.’

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he will not have any trouble motivating his players after Saturday’s shock 1-0 loss to Blackburn at the Emirates Stadium.

‘It is not difficult at all. It is our job,’ the Frenchman said. ‘If we feel sorry for ourselves, we would be completely wrong. We have a massive game on Tuesday night and we have to show that we have some response in the team.’

Last year’s beaten Champions League finalists, Bayern already seem certain to end a three-year wait for major silverware due to their sensational form in the domestic arena. Bayern are yet to concede a goal in 2013, but despite the stark contrast between their imperious recent record and Arsenal’s struggles, Belgian centre-back Daniel Van Buyten anticipates a stern test. ‘Arsenal are one of the best teams in Europe,’ he told the official Bayern website.  ‘They have tremendous potential in attack, they have very strong individual players and a very good team. agencies


MALAGA LOOK TO EXTEND RUN


Spanish Primera Liga football club Malaga are seeking more miracles in Champions League, warming up for the last 16 tie with Porto on Tuesday night. Malaga travel to Portugal in fine form after a 1-0 home win against Athletic Club Bilbao Saturday evening, a game in which coach Manuel Pellegrini was able to rest some of his key players, such as Martin Demichelis, Joaquin Sanchez and Jeremy Toulalan. Malaga’s achievements this season have been nothing short of heroic: following on from their fourth place finish at the end of last season, the club’s plans for the summer were hit by economic problems when it appeared owner, Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani was looking to sell. Al Thani remains as the owner of the club, but has massively reduced his investment. Many expected Malaga to crash out of Europe at the first hurdle, but the makeshift team made wonders to work with.
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