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The Game of Thrones Meme That Totally Sums Up Arsenal v Bayern CL Clash

The Game of Thrones Meme That Totally Sums Up  Arsenal v Bayern CL Clash

This Friday, UEFA presented the match fixtures for the quarterfinal knockout stage of the Champions League, and the matches are as savory as it can get.

The quarterfinal matches are thrilling, to say the least, with all the high-profile teams competing in games that are evenly poised. But one game that is sure to be marked in the calendars of all football enthusiasts is when Arsenal faces Bayern Munich.

While Bayern Munich cruised comfortably against Lazio, Arteta’s team had quite the hiccups along the way in a cagey round of 16 game against FC Porto. It was David Raya‘s heroics in the penalty shootout that ultimately propelled Arsenal to their first quarterfinal appearance since 2009. Now they have to deal with the German giant.

This season of the UEFA Champions League holds special significance for the Gunners, as they have qualified for the tournament for the first time since 2017. Interestingly, their last elimination in the tournament came at the hands of none other than Bayern Munich themselves.

If you have been following the UCL for some time, it must not be unknown that there was a golden period when it was more of a routine for the two teams to face each other, with eight encounters occurring across just four years. The upcoming fixture promises to reignite the nostalgia and excitement of those classic Champions League battles.

The first leg is scheduled to take place at Arsenal Stadium on Tuesday, April 9 at 8 pm BST, with the return fixture occurring a week later at the Munich Football Arena on Wednesday, April 17, also at 8 pm BST.

Speaking of the much-desired fixture, the sporting director of Bayern Munich, Christoph Freund, has issued a warning to the Gunners, saying: “It’s a difficult but attractive draw. We can look forward to two exciting games. Arsenal’s development is impressive but we are FC Bayern. We need a really good away game in London. At home with our fans behind us, anything is possible.”

Even though Freund sounds to be quite optimistic, fans on social media seem to be torn between the two teams.

Arsenal v Bayern = Jaime Lannister v Bran Stark

Regardless of which team you support, it’s undeniable that fans on both sides are eagerly anticipating the match. The anticipation has even spilled over onto social media platforms, where a playful tweet has surfaced on, reminiscent of the storyline from Game of Thrones that compares the clash between Arsenal and Bayern Munich to the encounter between Jaime Lannister and Bran Stark.

For those unfamiliar, Game of Thrones is an American fantasy drama series on HBO that ran from 2011 to 2019. The show is based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series. The show has eight seasons and 73 episodes and has won 59 Emmys.

Referring to the storyline of Jaime and Bran Stark, in the pilot episode of the show, a young Bran Stark was depicted as an avid climber, deftly scaling the walls at Winterfell. But everything changed when the royal family came to visit.

While scampering up the side of Winterfell during the King’s visit, Bran Stark inadvertently stumbles upon a shocking scene: Queen Cersei engaging in an incestuous affair with her brother, Jaime. Fearing the exposure of their dark secret, Jaime is compelled to take drastic action, leading to the fateful moment when he pushes Bran Stark out of the tower window to silence him. Unfortunately, that was not their last encounter.

Despite Jaime Lannister’s attempt to end Bran’s life, the young Stark miraculously survives the fall, albeit in a coma. Upon waking, Bran grapples with the loss of his memories. To his horror, he discovers that he is now paralyzed from the waist down, requiring him to be carried everywhere by the stableboy Hodor.

But while Bran was initially furious about his immobility, he eventually discovered his greensight and warging abilities. These newfound powers allowed him to transcend his physical limitations, enabling him to travel further than he ever would have been able on two legs. As a result, he became the Three-Eyed Raven, possessing the remarkable ability to traverse space and time and “witnessing” every moment of the past, present, and future.

However, in Season 8 of “Game of Thrones,” Jaime Lannister and Bran Stark do indeed meet again. Their encounter occurs in Episode 2, titled “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.” The harrowing final scene of the Season 8 premiere showcases Jaime arriving at Winterfell to pledge his allegiance to the North and to inform them that Cersei’s army will not be joining them. However, as he walks through the courtyard, he stops dead in his tracks after seeing Bran Stark, the new Three-Eyed Raven.

The 10-year-old boy, whom he once assumed to be dead, stands in front of him, now a much more grown man with a matured and wise demeanor. Seeing Bran in Winterfell again fills him with immediate dread, likely bringing back the guilt and fear of repercussions for his past actions. This reunion is a powerful moment that serves as a reminder of the past and the choices that have been made.

And kudos to the audience for perfectly relating this moment with the UCL clash. This scene parallels that of Arsenal and Bayern Munich, referring to the last time the two teams met. Bayern somewhat metaphorically pushed Arsenal out of the window, or rather out of the knockout stage, in an insensible manner that crippled the Gunners for quite some time. However, now that time has passed, Arsenal under Mikel Arteta is much wiser and potent, and they have once again locked eyes with their past nightmare – Bayern Munich.

In the show, Bran, however, forgives Jaime, taking responsibility for his own life and understanding Jaime’s motivations. But, by the looks of it, Arteta is in no mood for forgiveness.

Arsenal and Bayern Munich Head to Head

To put it into context, Arsenal’s head-to-head record with Bayern Munich has been pretty one-sided so far. Looking back at their previous 12 encounters, Arsenal have secured victory three times, settled for draws twice, and suffered defeat on seven occasions. Across these matches, Arsenal have conceded a total of 27 goals while only managing to score 13 themselves.

The last time Arsenal met Bayern Munich was in 2017 in the Champions League round of 16, and that encounter was an embarrassment, to say the least. It was during the final days of Arsenal’s iconic manager, Arsene Wenger, coming face to face with another prince of the UCL, Carlo Ancelotti. Bayern Munich spared no mercy, humiliating the struggling Gunners in a 10-2 aggregate knockout stage victory with a 5-1 scoreline in both legs of the fixture.

This is Arsenal’s biggest loss at the Emirates to date, and it also stands as the Champions League’s biggest knockout stage win. As a matter of fact, Arsenal’s last three encounters in Europe’s top club competition against the Bavarians all ended in 5-1 defeats.

Will history repeat itself? It seems unlikely because the then Wenger-led team was miles behind this Arteta’s well-oiled Gunners. Arsenal has been performing commendably well in the league and leading the title race with 64 points. As a matter of fact, since the turn of the year, Mikel Arteta’s men have won nine games and lost just two. Barring the Porto scare, they have also been impressive in the UCL tournament having qualified for the knockout stage as group leaders.

On the other hand, things are not looking good in Germany. This is a Bayern team with distinct vulnerabilities and are practically out of the Bundesliga race behind Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen. Having said that, Thomas Tuchel is also reportedly set to depart after the end of the season. Bayern have played 12 matches in 2024, winning seven, drawing one, and losing four.

Moreover, to make matters worse, it looks like Bayern will be without fan support in the 1st leg of the fixture in London as well. UEFA has issued Bayern supporters with a ban from attending the Emirates Stadium after fans threw fireworks onto the pitch during their 3-1 win in the knockout against Lazio earlier this month. So, that is surely going to influence the pace of the game.

But then again, at the end of the day, the team is Bayern Munich. In their prime, they have the ability to hunt down any team with ease, and this time, they do have the assassin named Harry Kane up top. As a matter of fact, Arsenal is indeed the favorite prey of the former Tottenham striker. In 19 North London derbies during his Tottenham career, Kane scored 14 goals and provided three assists.

Although the Champions League is completely different in mindset than the league, and Bayern can be put a tad bit behind in the race, Bayern CEO Jan-Christian Dreesen has warned against being complacent and highlighted: “It will definitely be a difficult road to Wembley. Arsenal, as leaders of the Premier League, are in top form and it will be a close tie. They are no longer the same Gunners against whom we won the last three games by a big margin. The objective is still clear: after being in the quarter-finals three times in a row, we definitely want to progress.”

Will Bayern Munich succeed in achieving this objective, or will Arteta take Wenger’s revenge to knock out Bayern and inch closer to the coveted maiden UCL trophy? We still have to wait a couple more weeks for that answer.