With the first leg out of the way, I will be taking a look at the second leg, which will be played at the Camp Nou, on March 8th 2011.
With the score at 2-1 for Arsenal after the first leg, fans can be happy that the Gunners got the win, but the back four looked very shaky, to say the least. Koscielny and crew seemed to admire when Messi, or any other Barcelona player had the ball at their feet. We are all aware that Arsenal does not posses the best defense in the world, but in order for them to go through, they will have to fix the back four, whether it is by being more physical, or by starting a more defensive formation. Arsenal’s midfield on the other hand, had moments of breathtaking passes that led to some great chances, and eventually in the 78th and 83rd minute, it paid off, with goals by Van Persie, and Arshavin. Arsene did a tremendous job with the subs that he made, bringing on Arshavin for Song and Bendtner for Walcott. Do not be surprised if Arshavin in fact starts over Walcott in Barcelona.
Barcelona is going to have the deal with the fact that Pique received his 2nd yellow card, and will miss the match, this will most likely mean that Gabriel Milito will be taking his spot in the starting 11 for Barca. After the 1st leg at the Emirates, I could not help but notice that Iniesta was invisible in the 2nd half, Barca will need to make sure that Iniesta and Xavi are both involved in the game from the 1st minute if they plan on going through to the next round. Messi and Villa will also need to click much better than they did at the Emirates, with Arsenal’s below average defense, look for a lot of one-two passing from the Barca midfield, as they attempt to breakdown Arsenal’s back four, and put the pressure on the boys from North London.
In conclusion, expect Barcelona to come out much stronger, than they finished the 1st game in London. Expect the Camp Nou pitch to be watered down as usual, we all know that Barca loves when the ball does the moving for them. For Barca to be successful, expect the ball to go to Xavi and Iniesta very often, as they will be looking to set up, Villa, Messi, and ultimately Pedro. Arsenal have a lead to protect in Barcelona, therefore the Gunners should move to a more defensive formation (even though that is not their strength), look for the Gunners to start 2 defensive midfielders (Song and Fabregas), and attack Barcelona’s “average” defense off the counter attack.
Prediction Barcelona 2-0 Arsenal
Ogi is a graduate of Humber College’s Sport Management program. He is the founder of Blago Blogger Sports.