Barcelona v Arsenal: In Conversation (Part Two)
ACLF: For once a match lived up to its billing. A disappointing result from Barcelona’s point of view though, wasting a two-goal lead.
Bibin : Absolutely, every Barca fan were really disappointed to see the match end in draw after dominating for most of the time. But life is like that and we have a two precious away goal to play with at Camp Nou. The second leg also will live up to the hype.
Pep Guardiola said afterwards that the first half was the best football Barcelona has ever played in European competition away from home.
No doubt about that. It was not only about the way we played, but the way we dominated.
You were critical in your match report of the 4-2-3-1 formation Guardiola used, correctly noting it left the full backs exposed. But for an hour, everything was going to plan.
Barca was really pressing hard in the first half and that was the major reason why the formation did work well. But if you looked carefully, the attack through wings through Nasri was still happening. But they were really few and far between, because Barca players were pressing really hard.
In the second half, after the second goal we decided to defend the lead and that time that formation was really exposed. In the last interview I have highlighted why I believe Arshavin through the right wing would trouble Barca, but I think Wenger didn’t read that well. And one more thing such a formation takes out that wonderful partnership between Alves and Messi.
Things changed though once Eboue came into the midfield. Suddenly Barcelona had someone challenging them for possession, something Arsenal failed to do in the opening 30 minutes.
Eboue did well to regain possession. But one of the real reasons was the first goal. If you looked carefully, after the first goal Barca looked to have reduced the tempo and then out of blue the brilliance of Xavi created the second goal. So I thought Eboue came at the right time when Barca was reducing the tempo. In the first 20 minutes I firmly believed Eboue also would have struggled, if he was introduced.
Were you surprised at how easily Barcelona dominated the first half? Arsenal gave them too much room to play and did not pressurise the man on the ball. Barcelona did that and won the ball back too often.
It wasn’t a surprise for me. But I am pretty sure that many of the readers of your blog was surprised. Our entire game plan is depended on regaining possession. Actually last season we used to press a lot more.
Did Cesc convince you that Barcelona should sign him? Did he make you even more convinced that they shouldn’t. His booking was an appalling refereeing decision.
I am still holding on to my opinion. It is not because this interview is going to get posted on an Arsenal blog. He was great especially considering his fitness. But for the initial exchanges, Xavi made him look like an Amateur. It was after the introduction of Eboue, Fabregas started to come to his own. May be the fact that he will miss second leg helped in getting most out of him. I said that I preferred not to sign him because he will be under used at Barca, not because he lacks quality. And he could be very costly.
Both Barcelona goals came from long passes over the top of the defence – almost ‘un-Barcelona’ like in their creation.
It’s not a un-Barcelona goal. It’s very much a Barcelona style goal. If you look back to the goals in this season and last one, you will find many goals in the same way – long balls breaking the defense. It is not like the usual long balls used in EPL – long balls releases players on the wings and then they cross to centre. We don’t do that. Whenever Barca use long balls it will be to break defense. Xavi and Iniesta are geniuses in doing that.
Almunia was outstanding on the evening, aside from the first goal. Did that surprise you?
It surprised everyone! I was going through all the articles in the net and media station, everyone is surprised.
Valdes stopped Bendtner equalising with a good save but I think he should have done better with Walcott’s goal.
He should have definitely done better. But those kind of things happen with Valdes.
So to the second leg. Both sides will be missing key players – your entire first choice back four bar Dani Alves is missing. Is this a concern especially since Marques and Milito were together when Sevilla won at the Camp Nou recently.
Missing Pique and Puyol is definitely a concern. Milito is a good cover for both of them, but Marquez is a tad slow. It is really unfair to pin the blame of that defeat on Milito and Marquez. But in that match, it was Milito and Chygynskiy who were at the centre of defense. But we lost that match because Guardiola fielded a second string side – Alves, Chygrynskiy, Milito, Maxwell, Thiago Alcantara, Marquez, Iniesta, Messi, Bojan and Pedro; against a good team.
As far as second leg is concerned, Abidal should be back. So we will most probably have Alves, Marquez, Milito and Abidal in the defense, that is not a bad pairing.
Nasri will most likely replace Fabregas in the middle, a role he has been highly effective in playing in the Premier League. Rosicky would be likely to replace Arshavin. Walcott may come in on the right but it could also be Eboue.
I think Walcott will start on right and Nasri on left. Again it has to be seen whether how effective the midfield will be without Fabregas.
Iniesta may return. Who will make way for him? Should Toure start instead of Busquets, perhaps giving the defence more cover?
Iniesta may not start the match, so I think Guardiola will employ a midfield of Xavi, Busquets and Toure. Iniesta will be called upon if necessary.
Barcelona are favourites to go through but this Arsenal squad has won in The Bernabeu and San Siro in recent seasons. In fact, PSV Eindhoven were the last non-English side to knock Arsenal out, in 2007. Do you think they might repeat such victories?
I don’t think you can honestly compare those teams with this Barca side. To win at camp Nou is very difficult. I am not saying that it is impossible. It is easy to surprise Barca once like the way you did at Emirates, earning a draw. But this time Barca will be more focussed. I back FC barcelona to go through. But it will be another mouth watering contest.
It will be also interesting to see how your young players play at a huge arena like Camp Nou against a truly wonderful team and 97,000 fans. The readers of your blog may say that they don’t care about Camp Nou or 97,000 fans but it is definitely a factor. Not many teams have returned with a win from Camp Nou.
Posted on April 5, 2010, in Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged Arsenal, Champions League, FC Barcelona, Football, Premier League, Soccer. Bookmark the permalink. 435 Comments.