As earlier announced, here is part 2 of the Blaugranes preview for the upcoming UEFA Champions League match against Shakhtar Donetsk. In case you haven't read part 1, click here.
Who will be the key player in the fixture(s) against the Ukrainian?
Gabriel Roberts: Iniesta. He's in top form right now, and he has a knack for coming up big in big games. Barcelona will need him to break down Shakhtar's defense like he did against Arsenal, and provide some assists to Messi and Villa.
Shehryar Khan: Xavi, as always!
Bostjan Cernensek: I will put David Villa on the spot. He has been playing well below his high standards lately and if he continues to be as wasteful as he has been it could make the match-up much more difficult.
Arron Duckling: Without a doubt Javier Mascherano. As much as I love Busquets, this game calls for a destroyer, and sMasch is the best in the business. Barcelona will be looking to keep Shahktar occupied in their own half. However, the Ukrainians are very good on the break. So Mascherano will have to be disciplined to stay back when everyone else is forward, and then break up the attacks before they get dangerous.
Adi-Oula Sebastian: Lionel Messi. La Pulga is enduring his first real (mini)drought under Guardiola. In the preceding campaigns, the reigning world player of the year has never failed to score for more than three games. It’s been four games already since he last scored a goal.
Who is Shakhtar‘s most important player?
Shehryar Khan: The Brazilian Musketeers!
Bostjan Cernensek: The most important part of Shakhtars game are definitely the Brazilians. There are six of them and every one of them is needed for them to succeed, but if I would have to pick one I would go with Jádson; I see him as the glue that holds the team together.
Arron Duckling: Chygrynsky. He will have a point to prove, and is likely to have a lot of defending to do other this tie. Not really given a chance by the club, he has excelled upon returning to his home land, so if he can continue that form and keep the Barca attack quiet, then maybe Donetsk will progress.
Gabriel Roberts: Darijo Srna, right back. He's the team captain for good reason—Srna gives this squad alot of confidence. At right back, he'll be tasked with defending David Villa and Iniesta. On offense he loves to come forward and will put some serious pressure on Adriano and the rest of the Barcelona defense. If one of the Brazilians manages to win a free kick in a dangerous position, Srna is the man to put it in the back of the net.
Adi-Oula Sebastian: I’m with Arron on this one. The center back has definitely something to prove against his former employers.
With Real Madrid almost out of the picture in La Liga, how likely is an encounter in the semi-finals, should Barca progress?
Adi-Oula Sebastian: I’m rooting for Tottenham, with Madrid’s in-form striker, Karim Benzema, missing the Spurs have a realistic chance of getting a result, both at home and away.
Gabriel Roberts: I agree with Shehryar on this one—Tottenham have a good chance of beating the favored Madrid. That said, you've got to figure the Merengues, led by Mourinho, will pull it together and advance. They want this trophy real bad, and being out of La Liga makes it even more important to salvage their season.
Shehryar Khan: Tottenham are no mugs as we all know by now! Real's facing some injuries and with Ronaldo out Spurs can actually nick the tie. 50-50 I'd say.
Bostjan Cernensek: Real will probably completely focus on the Champions League now; yes there is still the cup, but that is just one game. Tottenham won't make life easy for them, with or without Gareth Bale, so I wouldn't guarantee anything at this point. I still see our Spanish rivals as the favorites, but nothing is a given and I would say there is a 65% chance we see them in the semis.
Arron Duckling: Very. Tottenham are a great side but now Real Madrid are all but out of the League title race, Europe will take a greater precedense. In Mourinho, they have one of, if not the best cup manager, so a quarter-final tie versus Tottenham should be no problem.
Do you wish for a Clasico month?
Arron Duckling: A chance to humiliate Los Merengues 4 times in a month?!? Anytime, anywhere, bring it on!
Shehryar Khan: Anytime, Anyday, Anywhere. Bring it on!
Bostjan Cernensek: I really don't. Four El Clasico's in less than a month is too much; it spoils the whole point of the rivalry (at least for me). I would have no problem if the four games would be stretched over let's say at least two months, but this is just to bunched up. Maybe I will change my opinion when we get closer to the games, but right now I'm not looking forward to it.
Gabriel Roberts: Absolutely. I could watch Barca-Madrid every week for the rest of my life and not get bored. There will be golazos, fights, and plenty of yellow cards, and soccer fans will be the biggest winners of all.
Adi-Oula Sebastian: No, that’s a nightmare scenario. I can’t postpone so many dates ;)
In case you have missed out on part I, click here.