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Alan Hansen: They may be a superb team – but arrogance could catch out Bayern


Arsenal are underdogs going into their Champions League clash with reigning champions Bayern Munich

Arsenal are underdogs going into their Champions League clash with reigning champions Bayern Munich

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Arsenal are underdogs going into their Champions League clash with reigning champions Bayern Munich

There is a growing urge to crown Bayern Munich as European football's new omnipotent force, the team set to dominate the scene for years to come.

But while Bayern are good, they are not yet that good, and I do not see them being miles ahead of the rest when the Champions League resumes this week.

If Pep Guardiola's team fail to defend the trophy they won by beating Borussia Dortmund at Wembley last May, I would not regard it as a shock.

For four or five years, the great Barcelona team of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta were favourites to win the Champions League and even they were unable to win it every season.

This Bayern team are not yet in the same bracket as that Barcelona side and have not dominated Europe for a sustained period like their predecessors of the Seventies and other great club sides, such as Ajax or the Liverpool team who won four European Cups in seven years.

Winning one Champions League and losing the final of another is not enough to earn the right to be called a dominant force.


Yes, Bayern have blended the great German qualities of solidity, reliability and an ability to get results with pace and quality, but it is too early to suggest they have become unbeatable.

When Bayern travel to Arsenal on Wednesday for the first leg of their last-16 tie, I believe that their season will be only just beginning.

They have emerged from a gimme of a group, with CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen offering nothing to challenge Bayern or fellow qualifiers Manchester City, and while they stand unbeaten and 16 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga, I would be more impressed if they were a similar distance clear in the Premier League.

Bayern's dominance in Germany could prove their undoing because if you win every week, complacency will inevitably creep in.

You begin to think that the game is all over before it has even started and some of their winning margins this season have given that impression.

But the Champions League is a different matter and what some people have forgotten is how close Arsenal came to knocking them out at this same stage last season.

Arsenal were outplayed when losing 3-1 at the Emirates, but they won 2-0 in Germany and had the second leg gone on for five more minutes, Arsene Wenger's team would have gone through.

I am sure Arsenal will gain confidence from that, but they must stand up to the fight when they face Bayern again this week.

While I have my doubts about Bayern's current claims to greatness, I still regard them as a team of great quality.

Their team ethic is arguably their greatest strength, with some fabulous, powerful players who are good with or without the ball and capable of controlling games.

But they lack the outstanding individual talents of a Messi or a Cristiano Ronaldo – the kind of players who gave Barcelona and Real Madrid an edge. Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery are great players, but there is no way you would bracket them with Messi or Ronaldo. They do not even come close.

Bayern are justifiably one of the favourites alongside Barcelona, but there is a danger that complacency or arrogance could catch them out this season.

In 1981, we played Bayern in a European Cup semi-final and drew the first leg 0-0 at Anfield, so the view was that they would be favourites to beat us in the second leg.

The Germans were so confident that there were leaflets on the seats which said 'Road to Paris', giving details of how to get to the final.

The leaflets were passed around the Liverpool dressing-room and fired us up enough to earn a 1-1 draw, which took us to the final in Paris, where we beat Real Madrid.

Only time will tell if Bayern suffer from similar complacency this time, but there are some really good teams left in the Champions League and Arsenal are one of them.

So it is by no means a foregone conclusion that Bayern will brush them aside and go on to win the European Cup again this season. (© Daily Telegraph, London)