Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola highlighted the importance of possession following his team’s 2-0 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first-leg win against Arsenal at the Emirates on Wednesday. The German treble winner heads back to Munich as the heavy favorite to progress to the quarterfinals thanks to a pair of crucial away goals from Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller in the second half. Early in the first half, Manuel Neuer saved a Mesut Ozil penalty while David Alaba also missed from the spot just before halftime; Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was sent off for fouling Arjen Robben as he broke through on goal, setting up Alaba’s penalty miss.
“To play well, you need to have the ball. You need possession or else you will struggle, which is what happened during the first 15 minutes,” Guardiola reflected in his post-game press conference. “We gave the ball away too quickly and this can't happen against a great team like Arsenal. After Mesut Ozil missed the penalty, we managed to have more possession and gained more control. When we were a man up, it certainly wasn't easy for Arsenal. We showed patience and the rest of the match was quite good.”
The former Barcelona coach added: “Today we again saw that it all depends on possession. We should have fought harder during the first 10 minutes. It's a question of personality; you need to want the ball. We are not a great counterattacking team, as we don't have the physical requirements for that. We always need to have the ball, that's what it boils down to.”