Carlo Ancelotti: Winter break gives Bayern Munich advantage over Arsenal

Carlo Ancelotti has maintained the Bundesliga winter break gives Bayern Munich an advantage ahead of his side's Champions League round-of-16 tie against Arsenal next month.

Seeking a fifth league title in a row, below-par Bayern have struggled to narrow 2-1 victories at Freiburg and Werder Bremen on their return to competitive action following a month's break.

However, Ancelotti believes his side are in good shape less than three weeks away from the first leg of their tie with Arsenal.

"The winter break is definitely an advantage," Ancelotti told kicker. "Just like the fact we play only 34 Bundesliga games instead of the total of 38 in England, Spain and Italy.

"Additionally, there's no winter Premier League break. There's two cup competitions to play in too [in England] -- more games mean extra danger of players suffering injuries."

The Italian, who has led AC Milan and Real Madrid to Champions League titles, refuted kicker suggestions that Bayern could be vulnerable after their long break against an Arsenal side "at full rhythm."

"I don't see us being at a disadvantage in the Champions League," he said. "Physically we are in good condition, especially as we have only a few injuries -- although Jerome Boateng will still take a while yet.

"But we will have to give our all to progress. Arsenal has a strong, experienced team and a good trainer in Arsene Wenger."

In a wide-ranging interview with the German publication, Ancelotti took the opportunity of again defending Thomas Muller, who last month ended a goalless run of 999 minutes with his only Bundesliga strike of the season against Wolfsburg.

"He's more of a team player than a top goal scorer for us," Ancelotti said. "He has always worked well for the team. Goals aren't as important for me as his tactical focus and following my instructions.

"I'm very pleased with his style of play. He's a very intelligent player. In our 4-3-3 system, he was one of the players that took up the position between the lines very well.

"Every attacker endures dry spells. But Thomas is absolutely reliable, professional and a complete team player. Nobody in the club is worried about Muller's situation. He's humorous and makes jokes all the time. He also isn't thinking about it too much either. Thomas knows what he is doing."

Ancelotti also praised Thiago Alcantara, who returned to Bayern training last week after suffering a muscle injury in Doha earlier this month.

Asked what he was doing differently with the former Barcelona midfielder to his predecessor Pep Guardiola, who signed him for the Bavarians in 2014, Ancelotti said: "I'm not doing anything special, I'm simply letting him play.

"He can play anywhere in midfield -- as a number six, eight or 10. Thiago is one of the best midfielders in the world."