Monday, 7 March 2011

Barcelona vs Arsenal - a preview

Tomorrow night’s 2nd leg in the Camp Nou should be one to savour. The game is finely balanced with Arsenal holding a one goal advantage over Barcelona after the 1st leg at the Emirates three weeks ago. Both sides are struggling with injuries but this should be a game that every football fan is looking forward to.

Arsenal travel to Spain without Alex Song, Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott who all played in the first leg. Their manager Arsene Wenger confirmed that their captain Cesc Fabregas should be 90% fit for the game which will come as huge relief. He missed Arsenal’s visit to Catalonia last year and he was sorely missed as they were soundly beaten. It will be a tough ask for the Gunners to win the game but as long as they score and remain within one goal they will progress to the next round.

Meanwhile Barcelona have had somewhat of a defensive crisis as their captain Carlos Puyol has not recovered sufficiently to play tomorrow night. His regular partner Gerard Pique is suspended so they will have to call on Eric Abidal and Sergio Busquets to marshal the back line. This should all mean that Javier Mascherano will play alongside Iniesta and Xavi in the midfield with Messi, Pedro and Villa playing up front.

The game three weeks ago was fantastic; it was an example of how the game can and should be played at the highest level. There were chances at both ends and the only certainty tomorrow night is that there will be plenty of goals. We will definitely not see Arsenal go away from home and park the bus; both teams only know how to play one way.

The tie is balanced similarly to last season for me, the English side probably just edged the first game but Barcelona will not be as wasteful again. It is a real shame that both sides are missing such crucial players as the quality may not be quite as high as it could be. I would expect Barcelona to score three or four times so it will be question of how many Arsenal get in reply. They will have to maintain possession much more efficiently than they did three weeks ago or they will be severely punished. The whole world will be watching tomorrow night, I am sure it will live up to expectations.

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