After the tough match against Almeria at the weekend, Barcelona will once again turn their attention to the Ukranian side Shakhtar Donetsk in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final. The Blaugrana were 5-1 victors in the first leg, so this match seems to be a mere formality before they meet Real Madrid, presumably, in the semi-finals. However, it is an important match, and we have asked the team some questions in relation to it.
This preview is brought to you by the Blaugranes team (Me, Bostjan Cernensek, Shehryar Khan, Gabriel Roberts, Adi-Oula Sebastian and new addition Paul Udani).
Presuming Barcelona progress, do you think that they will win the UEFA Champions League?
Paul Udani: Presuming Barcelona progress, do you think that they will win the UEFA Champions League? I'm keeping an eye on Man Utd-Chelsea. Should Man Utd win, then I would give a yes. They seem to do well against Man Utd and Arsenal, two teams that are similar to us when it comes to football philosophy (attacking football). We tend to not do well against Chelsea because of their physical nature, one thing we still struggle against occasionally.
Bostjan Cernensek: This is a tough one. If Barcelona and Real Madrid advance (which they both should) it promises to be a fantastic series. Any Mourinho led team is tough to beat over two legs and he has been able to rest his players more than Pep has, so Barcelona will have a tough job in the semi-finals. Cryuff said that the match-up would be decided in Barcelona's favor if they manage to get a positive result at the Bernabeu and I agree with him and I am confident Barca will get to the finals. From the second part of the bracket I predict Manchester to reach the finals so again it will be a great match, but in the finals anything can happen.
Adi-Oula Sebastian: I’d say our chances are 50/50 but if Carles Puyol continues to be unavailable then the odds are stacked against the Blaugrana. In recent weeks FC Barcelona have been rather lucky than solid at the back. While the eight point lead provides a comfortable cushion, in the Copa del Rey, and more importantly, the Champions League there’s very little room for error. The slightest mistake can and will be punished.
Gabriel Roberts: Yes, I think they will. They've got the players, the coach, and the hunger to win the Champions League. Wrapping up league play a little early will give them a chance to rest some important players, and the way Barcelona has been playing in Camp Nou should send them through at least to the final.
Shehryar Khan: Barcelona is favorites to win the CL but let's not under estimate Real Madrid or Manchester United (who I think will be in the final). We all know how dangerous Jose Mourinho can be over two legs, so let's just wait to reach the finals before we can really think of lifting the trophy.
Arron Duckling: I agree with Sebastian, our chances depend on the state of our captain. Barca need him back for the two Clasicos or else there could be hell to pay. But, if he does return and Guardiola continues his 100% Clasico record, then I see no threat past Los Merengues.
Chygrynsky remains injured and will not play, but do you regret the club's decision to sell him, especially given our "crisis" at the back?
Gabriel Roberts: Not really. Chygrynksy will always be too slow to play center back for Barcelona. You need some serious wheels to run down attackers when you play half the game in the opponent's side. Of course in hindsight it would be nice to have him, but who would've thought both Puyol and Abidal would go down?
Shehryar Khan: Not at all. To be honest 25million was a lot of money for a player who was a regular on the bench. I think with the kind of talent we have in the B team we really do not need big signings for the center-back position unless of course we could get someone like Van Der Weil or a David Luiz kind of player.
Paul Udani: Chygrynsky remains injured and will not play, but do you regret the club's decision to sell him, especially given our "crisis" at the back? Not at all. The purchase of Chygrynsky was an eyebrow-raiser, and we all saw why last year. I'm sure his confidence must have plummeted, and it wouldn't have done him any good to stay. Every mistake would've been magnified, the fans would get on him some more, and it would have been a horrible experience for everybody involved.
Bostjan Cernensek: Chygrynsky wasn't/isn't a perfect fit for this fast paced Barcelona team, but I wish they wouldn't have sold him just to get some extra cash. Dmitro is slow, but he has good anticipation skills and he is great positionally and he would certainly be an improvement over Milito. Laporta paid big bucks for Chygrynsky (€25m) and I just think for that amount of money he at least deserved a chance to make some impact with the team.
Arron Duckling: Well, that depends. He has improved on last season, but this is back at his "comfort level". Whether he would be doing as well at Barca is unlikely, so I don’t regret the club’s decision to sell him, but I do regret the initial purchase.
Adi-Oula Sebastian: My personal motto when it comes to Pep’s dealings in the transfer market "when in doubt, agree with the sporting director". Pep is a fine tactician but still a novice in regards to transfers. In 2009 he wanted Javier Mascherano to replace Yaya Toure, finally got his man in 2010 only to come to the conclusion that Yaya Toure is much more a "Barca-type" of player than the Argentinean. Pep’s decision’s often times puzzle me. So no, Barca doesn’t miss Chyggy.
After his two goals at the weekend, Messi once again equaled the club record for goal in a season. Do you think he will score at the Donbass, and how many do you think he will finish with this season?
Arron Duckling: I would love to see him rested against Shakhtar, but if he plays I think he will score. Though, if he doesn’t, it will mean that he will break the record at the Bernabeu! With 4 Clasicos remaining, I think Messi could get 55 goals this season.
Adi-Oula Sebastian: The brace against Almeria will do wonders for his confidence. Therefore I believe Lionel Messi will most likely score a goal or two, especially since Shakhtar are chasing the game and have nothing to lose.
Gabriel Roberts: Sure, why not? Pep doesn't seem too concerned with limiting Messi's playing time, so it's quite probable he'll notch another goal. At the end of the season, I'll say Messi ends up with 56 goals in all competitions.
Shehryar Khan: It's hard to predict, but I think he'll be on the score sheet against Donetsk. I'm also secretly hoping that Pep gives him a rest for the game. I'm guessing he'll add about 6-8 goals more to his tally this season, and maybe a couple more if we reach the CL finals.
Paul Udani: After his two goals at the weekend, Messi once again equaled the club record for goal in a season. Do you think he will score at the Donbass, and how many do you think he will finish with this season? He'll get close to 60. The midfielders and even defenders are taking the load off Messi's shoulders, a by-product of being in space because everybody's eyes are on Messi. He'll still score his fair share. As for scoring at the Donbass, it's basically damage limitation for Donetsk, so they'll sit back and I'll say he won't.
Bostjan Cernensek: It's great to see Messi scoring again, I missed that. I don't think he will score in Ukraine, but he will score more and I think his goal number at the end of the season will be 54.
Will this Barcelona side go down as the best ever side if they win the treble?
Adi-Oula Sebastian: There’s no doubt about it, even achieving the continental double would almost certainly cement their place amongst the greatest sides of all-time. No team in history has ever won the treble twice, let alone within the span of three years. I’d like to see Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s face if he misses out on, not only the Champions League trophy but also a treble in successive seasons.
Shehryar Khan: At the moment, they're the best side in Europe for the past 2-3 years based on form and performance. Having said that, it's still early days to pass a comment on whether they're the best ever side in history but give it another couple of years and we'll have our answer.
Bostjan Cernensek: If they win the treble (which is still a very big if) they should be named the best team ever. Many of the great teams never won a treble let alone two and that accomplishment alone should be enough, but they have also reached at least the semi-finals in every single competition they entered (Shakhtar result pending). How many teams can claim that?
Gabriel Roberts: I'm too new to world football to make this sort of statement, but I'm not too naive to realize these be the good ol' days. I very much doubt I'll see another group quite like this one, and two trebles in 3 years is ridiculous.
Arron Duckling: I think so. Sure I haven’t had the privilege of watching Sacchi’s Milan, or the 60s Madrid, but I have seen enough to know this Barca team is something special. I know that they are the best already, but an unprecedented second treble in three years is something no-one could argue with.
Paul Udani: Will this Barcelona go down as the best ever side if they in the treble? Didn't all experts have this conversation two years ago, when Barcelona won the treble as well? So yes, they will go down as the best side ever, until the next Barcelona team does the treble and we have this conversation again. :)
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