As the title of this article suggests, FC Barcelona are soon to face Arsenal FC. I can’t help myself but foresee a Barcelona victory, and for once this is not me being arrogant, but pretty much the general consensus of opinion in the football world. Even Gooners are anticipating a mauling from Lionel Messi and co. when the Champions League returns.
To support my daring prediction I have compiled a list of arguments, it goes as follows:
Self-belief will be key in this tie. From the moment that the draw was made, pundits and fans alike questioned the ability of the Gunners to advance past Pep Guardiola’s men and Lionel Messi in particular. Not even a year has passed since La Pulga single-handily annihilated Arsenal.
Even the Barca side featuring Zlatan Ibrahimovic proved too much for Cesc & Co. Now David Villa has replaced the Swede and the Blaugrana have become an even more irresistible unit. Where Ibracadabra has failed El Guaje is triumphing. Replacing the world’s most volatile character with the world’s best striker is an improvement, now isn’t it?
Surely this is playing on the mind of each Arsenal player. If a defeat or repeat of a mauling is lingering somewhere in the heads of the players, then guess what? They will.
Though hold on, I’m sure you’re thinking this is a double-edged sword. That Barcelona will be complacent and could make mistakes. While that is a possibility, I think that Pep and his men will just ignore the hype as they have before (Real, Rubin etc.) and deliver yet another footballing master class.
2. Arsenal’s Cup Form
My second argument revolves around Arsenal’s form in cup competitions. You may be aware that they drew with Championship side Leeds at home in the FA Cup third round. Furthermore, they lost to another Championship side, this time Ipswich, in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final albeit on the road.
Besides Arsenal couldn’t top their Champions’ League group, if they had we would’ve been denied a mouth-watering football spectacle.
By contrast, thus far FC Barcelona have only been beaten twice in all cup competitions. They won the Spanish Super Cup, finished their Champions’ League group as leaders and are well on their way to the final of the Copa del Rey. You may argue that the Blaugrana haven’t won all their games, but they haven’t drew or struggled with sides in the Segunda as Arsenal have with Championship sides.
I mean if you can’t beat Ipswich easily, then what hope have you got!
3. Cesc Fabregas
Yes, you did read that right; my third argument is the talismanic star player for the opposition, Cesc Fabregas. Before you disregard this argument as rubbish, think about it…
Cesc Fabregas is the star player of Barca’s opposition, although he is continually linked with Barcelona, if he did sign with FC Barcelona he wouldn’t even be guaranteed a starting place for the Blaugrana!
How can one expect to beat an opponent when your best player is not even good enough for their starting XI?
4. Arsenal’s Tactics
Nobody disputes that Arsenal play the "right brand" of football with their attacking approach to the game. They play neat and eye catchy one-touch football with speed and flair. But is an attacking-intend really the right approach against the Blaugrana?
In FC Barcelona, Arsenal are up against the best football team in the world, perhaps even the best football team ever! Even the Gunners, arguably EPL’s most technical side, cannot come close to the technical superiority of the Catalans. However, Wenger will still send out his players to beat Barcelona in an open football match.
Surely Arsene is not naïve enough to think that will work, or is he?
So far, only three teams have, in my opinion, tried to beat Barcelona at their own game - Real Madrid, Espanyol Barcelona and Real Betis. Each time Barca’s opponent was dished out a humiliating 5-0, a Manita. Even the Special One and his Galacticos 2.0, who by the way talk a good game, were utterly destroyed by Pep’s squad.
The best highlights of FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid 5-0 29-11-2010 HD (via fakerash)
Try and beat Barcelona at your own peril.
5. That Extra Gear
During this campaign, FC Barcelona have evolved even further under the guidance of Pep Guardiola. They always step up to the occasion in the big games. Opposition teams prepare to play Barcelona in anticipation of a notable result, only to be blown away by a team who have found that extra gear.
Examples of this include El Clasico. The hype going into the match was unparalleled. The media were saying it was going to be the closest Clasico in years. Unfortunately for all Madristas, Barcelona ruined it by producing one of the greatest performances of all-time. ;)
Similar occurrences were witnessed against Bilbao, without Messi; Valencia who were one up, against Espanyol who are currently in contention for European football and Villarreal who are in the running for a Champions League spot.
Will a similar fate await Arsenal?
I think so.