ARSENAL VS BARCELONA MATCH PREVIEW:
The match scheduled to take place on 1945hrs (GMT) on Wednesday (15th Feb, 2011), is undoubtedly the most anticipated match in this round of the champions league. Plus the Arsenal-Barcelona rivalry in the champions league is building up. With Arsenal losing the final once and losing to Barcelona in last year’s matches with a 6-3 aggregate and gunning to take revenge makes this match all the more a reason to watch. Both the teams have a similar style of playing the ATTACKING football. Let’s take a look at the teams :
Barcelona is in great form at the moment. Having good players at all the positions is one thing but having one of the best team chemistry is something else. Barcelona have both. They probably will be employing a 4-3-3 formation. With Messi scoring 40 goals so far this season and gelling in well with David Villa and Pedro make their offensive line a really big threat. With the likes of Xavi and Iniesta in midfield, it sure is a creative midfield. The defensive(holding) midfielder might be Mescharano or Sergio Busquets. Meshcarano is already an established name(having played for Argentina too) while Sergio Busquets is also making a name for himself. Coming to the back line they have Dani Alves on the right hand side who makes dangerous runs and combines well with Messi, Gerard Pique and Carlos Puyol form the central defensive partnership, with Puyol the more aggressive one making the tackles and both also have the capability to swap sides during the match. Though Puyol did have a minor injury, he is expected to play. On the left side they have Eric Abidal who makes lesser runs forward compared to Alves and is completing the back four along with the holding midfeilder when Alves is making runs. Victor Valdes their goalkeeper might not be the best in the world but he doesn’t make a lot of errors and has good communication with his back four.
Arsenal too are in great form, scoring goals and making some breathtaking moves. They too have good players at all the positions. When Arsenal were defeated last year by Barcelona, they were missing their star players like Robin Van Persie and Febregas for the secong leg. This time around, apart from Nasri who is a doubt for the first leg, all the other regular players are fit. Arsenal are expected to go with the 4-2-3-1 with Robin Van Perise being the lone striker up head. The Dutch striker came back from a long injury layoff about a month ago and is back to his clinical precision scoring 10 goals in 2011 already. Behind him in centre midfield would be the midfield maestro Francesc Febregas who is a treat to watch. He is the target of many big clubs and is one of the best creative midfielders present at the moment. Along him on the right wing would be Theo Walcott. He with his shear pace can rip open any defense and is especially dangerous on the counter attacks. Though his crosses are not the best but his timely runs can be a valuable asset for Arsenal. By scoring the first goal of the match against Barcelona he showed that he sure can turn things around any moment. On the left wing would be Arshavin. The little Russian genius. He after being out of form for sometime is coming back to his best. Due to Nasri’s fitness doubts the Russian will get a starting place. Just behind Febregas would be Alex Song in the holding midfielder role. Song has matured really well in the last two seasons. Along with him will be playing the new teenage sensation Jack Wilshere. At the little age of 19years Jack has established himself as a regular in the Arsenal first team. He played his first national match some days back and has been spotted as the next big thing for Arsenal and England. Good at making decisive passes and a wonderful tackler as well, Wilshere is sure to be a hit. For the back line, on the left will be Gael Clichy who has a lot of pace and makes really dangerous runs forward. In the centre will Koscielny and Djorou. Koscielny has settled in the Arsenal squad really quickly his hard tackling is very useful at times. Djorou too has established himself after coming back from a long injury layoff this season. On the right hand side will be Sagna who is having a lot of regular games under his belt and has good pace and physical strength. Keeping the goal for Arsenal would be Wojciech Szczesny. The young keeper made full use of the chance that he got in the absence of Manuel Aluminia and is now a regular and establishing himself.
Both the managers Arsene Wenger and Josep Guardiola are the supporters of attacking football. The beautiful game philosophy.
- Lionel Messi Vs Gael Clichy:
Gael Clichy has a lot of pace but there is no dearth of pace in Messi too and the little magician has a bagful of tricks and is really quick with the ball. Scoring all the four goals against Arsenal in the second leg of the fixture last year, he sure is the man to watch.
- Xavi and Iniesta Vs Wilshere and Song:
This will be a midfiled battle worth watching. The expectations with Wilshere are really high while the duo of Xavi and Iniesta has proved success in the club as well as the national team. Wilshere will be the man to watch because he makes the tackles but can go forward too and deliver decisive defense splitting passes.
Although I am an Arsenal supporter, this match will be a pure master class. It is advised to all the football fans whether they support any of these teams or not and to those who are not football fans , not to miss a match of such class because they rarely happen and the excitement and enjoyment level of watching a live match is far greater than watching a repeat telecast the result of which you already know. The answer to the question as to who is going to win this match is, “Time will tell.”
The match report is available here: