Wenger, Arsenal intent on avoiding Champions League repeat against Bayern Munich

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Last year’s 2-0 win in Munich was only a silver lining. Although the result has since been held up as an example of Arsenal’s potential, it only came after the Gunners had lost to Bayern Munich, 3-1 at home. Thanks to the away goals rule, the moral victory in Germany couldn’t carry Arsenal into the quarterfinals.

With margins so thin, it’s impossible to avoid what ifs. What if Arsenal had played better in the first leg? What if they had been more conservative, willing to play a long game rather than pursue a result at home? What if Arsenal hadn’t dug such a big hole at home?

“We were too nervous at the beginning of the game [against Bayern last season],” Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger said, reflecting on last year’s Round of 16 result (as relayed by The Guardian). “We also wanted to level it too much at 2–1 and we conceded the third through a counter.”

We saw it again today when Barcelona faced Manchester City. Down a goal and a man, the Citizens should have closed up shop and played for another 11-man day. Though they came close to equalizers through David Silva and Edin Dzeko, City ultimately gave up a second crucial away goal, Daniel Alves’s let tally building on Lionel Messi’s penalty conversion after Martín Demichelis’s red card.

“We have spoken about the importance of staying in the game,” Jack Wilshere said. “We have got to be a bit more intelligent this year …”

Against a Bayern team that’s only lost once all season, that’s easier said than done. Though Arsenal may look at last year’s 2-0 in Munich and draw confidence, others see is as an aberration. To them, Bayern’s 3-1 win at the Emirates was a better reflection of the teams’ talents, with the defending European champions again expected to move past Arsenal and into the competition’s quarterfinals.

“It’ll be down to our defending on Wednesday,” Wenger said, hoping to improve on last year’s lopsided leg at the Emirates. “Their main force is going forward. They have five or six players who can create a chance at any moment.”

Podolski goes out with super goal; Germany tops England

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The highlight of Wednesday’s international friendly docket was Lukas Podolski‘s final match for Germany, and the former Arsenal man did not disappoint his crowd.

But first, Canada plays its first match since unveiling new coach Octavio Zambrano.

[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]

Scotland 1-1 Canada

Zambrano saw plenty to like from his new side, as Canada went ahead early with a goal from former Scottish youth Fraser Aird. Toronto-born, the ex-Rangers and current Falkirk man got his first Canadian goal against the team he represented at U-17 and U-19 levels.

Norwich City’s Steven Naismith redirected Tom Cairney‘s shot to make it 1-1 before the break, but Scotland never found its way back into Canada’s net.

Germany 1-0 England

Lukas Podolski scored his 49th international goal in his final cap for Germany, and it was spectacular.

Joe Hart didn’t stand a chance.

The match saw big stops from both ‘keepers, as Hart thwarted Leroy Sane on a second half break after Marc-Andre Ter Stegen defied Dele Alli in the opening 45.

Podolski subbed off in the 84th minute to wild applause, but it must sting slightly to know you finished an illustrious career one goal short of a nice, round 50. We guess he’ll have to rest on his millions and millions of earnings and loads of on-field honors.

Elsewhere
Vietnam 1-1 Chinese Taipei
Philippines 0-0 Malaysia
Cyprus 3-1 Kazakhstan
Yemen 0-1 Palestine
Cambodia 2-3 India

McClean to wear No. 5 in honor of deceased ex-teammate

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James McClean is a colorful personality who doesn’t shy away from strong opinions — he once called Jurgen Klopp “a bit of an idiot” — and the West Brom man is using the big stage of World Cup qualifying to proudly honor a deceased ex-teammate.

McClean has long before friends with Derry City captain Ryan McBride, who shockingly died hours after leading his side to a league win this weekend. Given his age (27), few saw it coming even after McBride admitted to feeling ill after the match.

[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]

McBride and McClean played together at Derry, and the latter was excused from Republic of Ireland training to attend funeral services this week.

He’s still expected to play a role in Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Wales on Friday, and McClean will don the No. 5 of McBride. Irish defender Richard Keogh usually wears the number and agreed to the change.

NASL side to broadcast all its matches on Twitter

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It’s fair to expect the San Francisco Deltas to be trendsetters in tech given their location and pedigree, and the first-year NASL club is doing just that.

The Deltas announced Wednesday that all of their home matches will be broadcast live on Twitter — in English, Spanish, and Portuguese — making them the first North American pro club to broadcast all of their matches on social media.

[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]

Twitter senior executive Josh McFarland had previously named as one of the investors in the Deltas, which makes the announcement even more natural. Other investors include tech execs from around the Silicon Valley.

Zlatan: Guardiola falling out “still drives me”

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Time heals all wounds, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic can still feel the scars from his falling out with Pep Guardiola.

The megawatt personalities saw their relationship deteriorate at Barcelona, with Ibrahimovic loaned to AC Milan one year after scoring 21 goals in 45 matches for Guardiola and the Blaugranas.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs Honduras? ]

Ibrahimovic never played for Barca again, and now has a chance to stare down Man City’s Guardiola in a Manchester Derby which could alter the Top Four fortunes of both sides. And he’s still powered by Pep.

From The Guardian, quoting a Sky Sports Italia interview:

“The problem wasn’t with me, it was with him, and he never came to terms with it. I don’t know what his problem was with me. It is something that drives me, gives me adrenaline and extra motivation. It is normal after what has happened. I’m using it as a positive, not negative.”

United visits City at the Etihad Stadium on April 27, and Ibrahimovic will be extra motivated (if that’s possible for the Swede, who seemingly would be fired up to beat someone in arcade bubble hockey).