Arsenal 0, Barça 2, aka “A weird kind of frustration”

We might never know how good this Barça team is.

At the core of the carping on Barça Twitter, the pundits who weigh in about how closely run a victory was is something of that basic reality: this might be the best football that we have never seen.

Some of it is the cruelty of the modern game, that has a top team battling on three fronts, as well as needing its stars to muster energy for international competitions. It’s a schedule that has had Barça without a free midweek since August. What are these players to do, except adopt a pragmatism that is really a bit arrogant, when you think about it, applying a governor that lets them play as good as they need, to accomplish a desired result. It doesn’t have to be great, doesn’t even need to play a complete match.

We’ve seen glimpses of the real power of this team, in the 0-4 Classic win, or the five minutes of beauty that turned a tight match into a rout. But there has yet to be a full match this season, where everyone was giving it everything, because of the necessity of that governor.

During the Champions League match, the first of two against Arsenal, there was a lot of talk before the match, speculation and tactical nattering. But for many, it was as simple as there being no realistic way to beat this team. You can’t park the bus, you can’t press them, you can’t do anything except hope that the collective is tired, trapped in the trough of a difficult block of training, and everyone has a bad match. Athletic caught them that way, and still had to play a flawless match. Celta caught them that way, and played what the players will probably tell friends was the best match they possibly could. Sevilla mustered an otherworldly flurry at the start of a second half that got it done.

This team can be beaten, in the right set of circumstances. But as the unbeaten run stretches to 33, what Arsenal discovered is what 32 other teams already know. You can come close, you can do almost everything right, but it’s the almost that will kill you.

Arsene Wenger drew up an excellent match plan, one that was working. It was pressure, intelligent pressing, vigilance off the ball and keeping passing lanes closed. It was smart positioning and really smart play of the type that many presumed Arsenal to be incapable of. They even got scoring chances that were parried, thanks to an excellent display by Ter Stegen.

But almost isn’t sufficient for a Barça team that is not only capable of sustained bursts of unfathomable excellence, but can take advantage of moments. Arsenal had a spell of possession, and was pressing at the Barça goal. The ball came loose, and Iniesta to Suarez to Neymar to Messi and the result was a counterattack goal of the highest order, one almost violent in its pace and execution.

Before the match, much was made of the fact that Messi had never scored against the indomitable Petr Cech. An article even explained why, the things that Cech does to make Messi think twice, consider his options when facing the helmeted giant. All of that talk, all of that speculation fell apart in a single, beautiful moment:

Messi took the pass from Neymar and hesitated just a fraction, taking an interminable touch and pause to force Cech, who was playing Messi to be human, to take the first-time shot like every other mortal player in the game would have, to make a decision. He got it wrong, tumbling to the Emirates turf. Messi then calmly laced the ball home, and scampered away to celebrate with his teammates.

It all seemed so simple, but every player rushes, every player has that tendency to take the wrong decision. Suarez did, Neymar did. Great players talk about how game time works for them, how seconds seem like minutes, minutes like hours. They can see it all play out and understand exactly what is going to happen next. It’s a safe bet that Messi wasn’t even thinking about what he was going to do, that he just did it, chose the right action at the right time.

Suarez and Neymar have scored more goals, but the reason they defer to Messi is because there isn’t a player in the game who is capable of doing what he can. His teammates know it, almost all of the rest of the footballing world knows it, except for the diminishing island of those who assert that Ronaldo is as good.

And that’s the problem with Barça, this frustrating tease of a team. They can possess you into oblivion, playing football every bit as pretty as the halcyon days of Guardiola. Individual brilliance can kill you. A ball over the top to Suarez can destroy. Press too hard for a goal and a lightning counter results. Go tight on Busquets, and Iniesta gets you. Clamp down on Messi and Neymar capers free. You can do everything right, almost all of the time, and up pops Messi, with a “I’m still here, you know.” And that’s that.

Another bit of honey-dripped football found Messi in the box, fouled by Flamini, a consequence of panic. There were times, during the passing days, where periods would pass where there wasn’t an attacker in the box. No longer. There is almost a race to the box now, and one, both, often all of Messi, Suarez and Neymar are in the box. Barça is getting more penalties this season not because of any rectification by any conspiratorial entities. It’s simply that tricky, talented players are in the most dangerous part of the pitch for a defender, doing magical things with the ball.

The penalty was earned, and a culerverse groaned, very aware of the … um … complexities attendant to Barça and the penalty spot. But this was today, and the goal mattered. Messi beat Cech again, and that was that as Barça proceeded to see out the match, already thinking ahead to Sevilla at home on the weekend, another opportunity to extract vengeance and extend a gaudy winning streak.

All the speculation, all of the prophesies — Walcott’s pace, Ozil’s trickery, Bellerin’s quality, Giroud on set pieces, crashed upon the rocks of a team playing in third gear. Other teams do rondos in training, working on ball control and passing in tight spaces. Matches are rather a different thing. A defender will think, “Get it away!” and hoof it. Barça will take control of a ball, and Alves will play to Ter Stegen, who will pause and play to Mascherano, who might play back to Ter Stegen, then Alves to Rakitic to Busquets to Iniesta and the opponent is wondering how the hell a team just played out of the back like that, and will they ever see the ball again.

It was the focus of Alves, who was a defensive rock in tandem with Rakitic. It didn’t even really settle in how good a match they were having until Alves and Ozil had a verbal set-to and the “Hey! Ozil!” entered your brain. They broke loose on a break in the first half, Alex Oxelade-Chamberlain streaking at pace toward the Barça box until, like a rocket, Mascherano came streaking in with another memorable tackle against Arsenal to match his one on Bendtner, many years before. POOM! And that was that.

Wenger said, after the match, that Barça was “95 percent” of the way through to the next round. The Arsenal coach understands that his team will have to go to the Camp Nou chasing victory, chasing two away goals, just to start, without conceding, without leaving themselves exposed to the rapaciousness of a better team. And that is impossible.

Luis Enrique, when asked what he liked about his team’s display, said “Everything.” Busquets said that the team was calm in the first half, because the players knew that Arsenal would tire in the second half. They did, and that was that, another match played at something well below the team’s considerable best.

In training, there are legends of wonderful things as Barça players talk about feats of wonder, of a quality of play that only facing other members of the best football team in the world can bring out. We don’t ever see those sustained moments, don’t ever get a real glimpse of exactly how good this team is, for an extended period of time. That is the frustration with this team, that anticipation, that need to want to see its best. At the end of a film, “The Color of Money,” an aging pool hustler played by Paul Newman, faces off against the young lion in Tom Cruise.

“You want my game? You couldn’t deal with my game,” Cruise spits at Newman. Maybe that’s what it comes to for us, who have the pleasure of watching this team play, week after week, match after match. They got game, but don’t need to show it because who can handle it? And that only leaves us to watch, wonder, marvel and crave more of those times it all comes together like a song.

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Written by:

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.

40 Comments

  1. IamXavi6
    February 23, 2016

    What’s completely telling here is the fact that Barca hardly got out of 1st gear, played ‘poorly – in contrast to what they can do’, and fundamentally absolutely pants arguably England’s best team on offer.

    Have a think about Barca… this team currently is probably better than 99% of other NATIONAL teams (excluding Germany). You have to put these guys in the same tier as the Milan of 92-94.

    Just hope you all can enjoy and appreciate it .

  2. luisthebeast
    February 23, 2016

    We played the game that a team who wants to win CL again,La Liga again and a Cup again must play.With Lucho i have that secure that wherever we play a big game,we will win.For me the whole team was excellent and they did their job.Because now we have a coach that understand what means an away win in a KO game in CL and how to make it happen.This is Lucho.s Barca and i LOVE it.

  3. bwullur
    February 23, 2016

    Camp nou should start selling the ticket for the next round!

  4. G6O
    February 23, 2016

    This was very similar to the Las Palmas game, only the tempo was higher.

    And that is very telling,

    People will interpret both as Barca not playing very well, but while there were some sloppy plays in both games, to people who have watched the team it was clear it did not get out of first gear in either game.

    So basically Arsenal was not much more of a hurdle than Las Palmas, and that should force people to appreciate the strength of the team.

  5. Rivaldo
    February 24, 2016

    Man this game was great. These are two great sides. If teams in the Epl would push at Arsenal like this they would win the league more. We forced them to bring their A games in defense. I have never seen them so organised; never.
    But my Barca….
    I am proud. I for one am glad we have our philosophy but i am also glad we can intertwined it with the Rivaldos and Ronaldinhos and Neymars Rakitics and Suarezes of this world. I am from the magic era.
    Boy… that guy Iniesta…whew.
    Mr.Messi…. sir take a bow that pausa touch as a former competitive player myself was sexy.
    Mascherano… you remind me of my capitan…LionHeart
    Rakitic solid… we need to start trusting you more
    Alves… i love you spirit dude… i would take this guy to a fight cause he will show up…as always in the big games…everything wasnt perfect but you leave it all on the pitch and show them what you are made of
    Ter Stegen… dude is going to be a beast
    Pique…. man you maturing my man… lead sir
    Busi…. silent warrior…. if you ever had a little more pace/athleticism the could never hold you… you think so quickly.
    Ok…
    Barca that is all
    Oh..
    Lucho and team…. you have created monsters.

    Has anybody realised we dont blame weather, grass lengths… guys just battle now… have had that many losses to quibble about anyway
    #LuchoIn

  6. Davour
    February 24, 2016

    Spot on analysis! I felt precisely that frustration during the game – Messi from the Man City tie was nowhere to be seen. But instead he scored twice – excellently both times – and created chances (Suarez is really on a missing-streak, isn’t he? But a wonderful part during 1-0 build up). Less youtube-compilations, more titles, I reckon.

    Ter Stegen keeps doing well. Seems to have chased away early season demons – shows character. Next year he should really be no. 1, considering the long term.

    But what can we say? Team was solid, professional, weird in its dominance; it’s a strange phenomenon we are witnessing. And we should be fine without Piqué next round; good time to take that suspension.

  7. Tata2
    February 24, 2016

    The narrative all around now is that arsenal matched barca and atleast deserved a draw and I say deserves got nothing to do with it. Everyone is raving on about how arsenal missed opportunities like Suarez shouldn’t have put barca 2 goals up in the last 3 or 2 mins in traffic First half. There’s one thing about missed chances, you can’t say x team had x chances so they should have scored x goals of only they were clinical cos ones you score one of those chances, play resets and the other one doesn’t come up. I think the message from yesterday”s match is that, “almost” isnt sufficient even is as it is the closest you can come to beating the hid barca. Malaga,Levante,Palma’s all did it but they only came almost to beating this barca. Playing against this barca feels like playing against CPU in fifa at legendary difficulty, you could be playing well all day and even missing chances but you are always one mistake away from being F*cked. I also love the false pretense that this bunch gives the opposition. Prior to that point when we scored, arsenal were beginning to believe they could actually beat this barca and had the guts to come all out for the first time in the game and only got to realise that it was an am ambush when it was too late.

    • georgjorge
      February 24, 2016

      You’re right, that narrative probably got to do more with disappointment than with objective assessments. Neymar as well had two one-on-ones with Cech and a free header on goal, Suarez hit the post in the second half…nothing to complain about from Arsenal’s side.

      Great article, but I don’t agree with the sentiment that the team didn’t have to commit a lot to beat Arsenal. Maybe they didn’t have to run as much as Arsenal, but the level of play from the team was still pretty high and required a lot of concentration and dedication (except after the first goal when they just passed the ball around for a few minutes as if they knew Messi would score again when it was convenient). I hope the team has still some energy to spare for the Sevilla match, because that will be my first match ever live at the Camp Nou. Can’t wait.

  8. horlahlehk
    February 24, 2016

    Solid performance!
    Did you all notice that there was a tendency to always attack mostly thru the Messi flank! Wow…..even de team knows who the king is!!!,,…they know who to turn to for this type of matches
    Visca Barca!!!

  9. February 24, 2016

    Incredible. We defeat an EPL giant without even playing anywhere near our best. If I say, we never got out of 2nd gear, would it be a disrespect to Arsenal?

    That first touch of Messi, a kind of pausa to trick (?) Peter, I couldn’t believe it. Is there any other player in the world who would not try to score in first kick, for that ball. Apparently, thats what Cech also was thinking (?).

    I was screaming at Neymar, when he decided to shoot earlier, when he had both Messi and Suarez free for an easy pass. But he compensates with that good run for the first goal. Suarez could have scored at least two. Anyways.

    My MOM was Ter Stegen though.
    Masche had good moments, but he is also giving lots of scare with some really non-CBesque chicken runs around. Am fully with Jim’s view on this, even if I love Masche for various things.

    • February 24, 2016

      Mascherano, aka The New Song, will not get the respect he deserves from most, except the coaches like Guardiola, who demanded him, Vilanova and Luis Enrique, who like Guardiola, see him as a stalwart. People from the outside will continue to tear at him, analyzing his play in ways that will always find fault. His coaches won’t care, and he will continue being their go-to, de facto defrnsive captain.

  10. Tata2
    February 24, 2016

    So many typos. My apologies that’s what using a smart does…

  11. Cyclops
    February 24, 2016

    The Narrative of the very last comments in the previous Article seems to suggest that Barca played their best fooball of the season, and i’m like…are you freaking kiddin me!?!..lol, sorry, what game did you watch???
    Anyway, the opening sentence of this Article is like the most spot-on of Spot-ons…My, i was like, i really dont even need to read anything more, cause that single line just about said all that needs saying

    To be honest, earlier on in the game, yours truly was a bit annoyed at the intensity, Aggresiveness and Tempo barca were playing at, but i can’t say i’m still on that reasoning…
    The question i was hoping to ask here was, bar the 2nd half of celta, how long is it now since we saw a very high intensity, aggresive match from barca? well, thats until i saw that opening line, its pretty much ask the qeustion in its own way…
    I just looked at that team playing, and i could see that they could play miles better than what they played, rewind back to Mancity’s match if you need a bit of prove….
    There were unforced errors, they were hardly aggresive, not too much in movement, and the marking uh…kinda make your blood levels to rise
    And yet i know that a fit barca doing one thing out of the above better; Being a bit more aggresive, Arsenal honestly wouldnt have seen their shadow…
    I cant count how many times the Arsenal players easily slipped past the barca players like they were 2013 bayern 2.0, well i know they werent, apparently Energy levels werent that high for our boys..

    But its something, this was by no means anywhere near our best performance, i mean the midfielders had a performance couple inches below poor, MSN?, i wouldnt even go there
    Yet we managed to dispatch Arsneal without much fuss, to put it into context, The Arsenal guys were all sweating, all nervy, clearly trying to give it their all, and our players..just looked like they were playing las palmas all over again…
    Just to add, this was by no means the Best performance Arsenl has had, and thats the problem, i said had we done a few thing better, whatever they wanted to do would have been in wouldnt have mattered, effectively being in vain…You dont expect them to put out the same performance they produce against Aston Villa, against us, in other words they might and have played scintillating footballl against bottom placed Epl teams, but that obviously dosnt tells you the true quality of their team..notwithstanding, even if they play less pretty gainst Better Team(like us) you shouldnt ignore those better performances they’ve had(albeit against lesser opponnent) and say they had their best performance against us, because they can’t..We werent even settled in 1st gear, yet we waltz past them, if we’ve as much as played a little better, i bet you, they would have seemed to be playing their worst football ever, despite their very Best effort, thats football for ya, Mancity again a quick reference

  12. Cyclops
    February 24, 2016

    Me, i’m just a little blue, thinking would we ever see the pretty performances, like even the display against PSG last year, any more?
    I was on a Madrid blog, and they were going on and on about how certain players were tired after the Roma match and so shouldnt have played the Malaga game, and i was like, really?
    barca players have been playing games more frequently than they breathe in air, yet how long is that unbeaten streak again? Bayern could only afford a draw against a juventus side that seemed to comeback from the dead..i once said, so much for all the tiredness and fatigue, our opponents seems to be the one picking up the injuries, from Espanyol to Bilboa, from Atleti to Arsenal, yet we just have only one injury to report, and thats Rafinha, mind you thats not because our team is much fresher..notwithstanding, they’re still picking up the wins, now how about that for a conundrum??
    If they go on like this(sadly) without playing much pretty football for the rest of the season, and still win the CL, i’d not only take it, but i think it should be dubbed the Tiltle(Treble?) of efficiency…
    I might have taken two post to get this out(lol, my bad) but i think i’m trying to make a salient point here, no?….I’d wager a bet that not even bayern or any team for that matter can cope just like our team has coped or do even better, what are we taking about, how many times have we seen a Bayern capitulation, and its being generally attributed to Fatigue?

    I just want to officially Salute our team, scrap tactics, system, who’s the best player, the best coach, bla bla bla..the way they go about doing what they do is just plain commendable…Enrique said he liked everything he saw in the match, and i was dumbfounded… Like, you dont really mean that now, do you? not until i got the hand of it; a coach that know just how much strained his side is, playing against a good team, still keeping in mind they’ve got another tough tie at the weekend, still they could get such a result, you can’t really complain much now, can you?

    Obviously, lotta things werent done right yersterday, like i said they were hardly settled in first gear, but its a case of Glass half empty, or glass half full..sometimes perspective is solely needed..And putting things into perspective, the long train of fixtures, the resulting lethargy, and also the fact( thats as real as reality) that they can play way better than what they did, then i think those guys need commendations, BTW bayern and juventus sharing the spoils lastnight, something else they could try sharing is being real scared( thats ofcoures if we could ever jettison the lethargy, and bring something close to our A game on)

  13. Cyclops
    February 24, 2016

    ter Stergen…thats one guy for the big stage/occassions…
    He might underperform against the minnows, but so much for being maligned he steps up when its cruch time; know of a better way in which potential great players, prove their mettle?
    From Man city to PSG, against Bayern he was superb, against Juventus solid, against Arsenal Great…
    We all know he’s a WC talent(if you don’t, hmmmm…thats all i can say)but that dosn’t come from speculation, rather we’ve got tangible references to prove that..so with that, notwithstanding the howlers here and there against ‘small teams’ i can sleep easy, and have a nice dream, knowing with time he’d definately come good..hopefully……

    • Chiu
      February 24, 2016

      Ter stegen is certainly our future. still 23 yrs old but super calm and always show up in the big CL games.

  14. Cyclops
    February 24, 2016

    okay, i’m really on a roll here

    In my first post i actually meant couple inches above poor(referring to the midfielders)
    so..don’t get it twisted there…
    I could do with an Editing Tag here, lots of Typos..but, if wishes were horses……..

    • Rivaldo
      February 24, 2016

      Hi there…
      Dont suck all the air… leave some for us.

  15. dl
    February 24, 2016

    Cyclops– I wholeheartedly concur.

  16. ooga aga
    February 24, 2016

    Gonna say that Luis Enrique and his staff know about elite physical fitness as much as any coaching staff out there…and im gonna wager that has a huge amount to do with what we are seeing, my friends…of course it doesn’t hurt to have the squad we do. But the way in which each game (each half!) and the season as a whole are being “managed” in terms of our performances– hats off to el equipo tecnico….

    • ooga aga
      February 24, 2016

      It doesn’t mean you will win all the titles, but managing the season this way will put you in a position to get to the end of the season “con opciones.”

  17. ooga aga
    February 25, 2016

    I want to echo other commenters’ love for That Touch that Messi took before shooting for the first goal. Pure genius, pure excellence.

  18. Tata2
    February 25, 2016

    Err.. does any one know how many seconds it took barca to score that counter goal?

    • georgjorge
      February 25, 2016

      The commentator on my stream said 16 seconds from the Arsenal cross at our end of the pitch to the ball in the net in theirs. It was 12 seconds from Neymar’s first touch to the goal.

  19. Tommy11
    February 25, 2016

    Is Arsene as sore a loser as Jose? Your team gets beaten hands down by a better team that has better players coached by a better coach {Proof:2015 Coach of the year} and the next thing you moan about is players shouting when fouled to influence the referee, what kind of crap is that? Is the referee blind, such that he needs to hear someone shout before he takes decisions? Like Kxevin established sometimes back, one of the impotent tools an opponent can employ to play barca is kicking them about and it’s the referee’s job to maintain order, whether the fouled shout or not. Arsene, swallow the defeat with pride and focus on stopping Lecieter City and Tottenham from taking the league.

    We played Arsenal twice at the Emirates in the Guardiola era, we lost one and we drew one. Enrique at his first time of asking demolished Arsenal. And he did that in similar fashion to how Bayern was beaten last year. Survive all you want till the 91st minute, this Barca will kill you, eventually.

    #FCBSEV #TimeForRevenge #Unbeaten33+

  20. Kd
    February 25, 2016

    To answer one of the questions, it was 14.5 seconds from Pique’s header to the goal!!

  21. Kd
    February 25, 2016

    Oh n what a touch that was by Messi!! My god.. Jaw dropping split second stuff. The “pausa” in all its glory and efficiency.
    I think Cyclops that the beautiful football will come. We have already seen glimpses of it against Madrid and Valencia.
    Oh but I do think Arsenal players were a tad wee bit faster than us. At least their players on the left flank. They were just out sprinting Alves/Raki/Busi. So a bit unfair to say we only ever played in 2nd gear. Like a boxer in his mature prime, we knew exactly when to go for the jugular. But still that required sweat and sophistication.
    N Enrique is really winning me over. Not that i needed much to be won over after watching him play n giving it all when he was captain. He was the Puyol before Puyol. All heart n aggressive. But the way he manages games, man I think very few coaches at the top have that skill in abundance.
    Did anyone notice how Messi came alive 70th min onwards. Before that In reckon he left most of the tracking back to Rakitic. But then became a beast in the last 20 min. Fighting for every ball, running the length of the pitch closing down the keeper, tackling.

  22. Laurentiu88
    February 25, 2016

    personally, I think the referee was quite generous with them, i think there were 3,4 easy free kicks given to Arsenal, especially for Sanchez falling a bit too easy. I would not expect AW to have mentioned those anyway…

  23. Cyclops
    February 25, 2016

    I dont quite get all this talk about Arsenal playing superbly…Match analysis talks about them using a “comples pressing system”, hounding our players for the majority of the game etc etc..and i just wonder, was it the same match i watched?
    IMVHO, Arsenal was a wee bit just above poor, really…In a nutshell, their pressing was atrocious, dont let that barca display fool you..If barca played with a bit more energy, Arsenal was getting destroyed…They might have tried IMO a very ordinary attempt to man mark our Midfielders, but simple movements from our midfield three would have badly exposed them- again not much Energetic performance from the team
    They could hardly keep the ball, skewed their passes time and time again..i can vouch for a Rayo vallecano being more accurate in their passes…What else, is it the horrible decision they kept making at crucial times? or the timid mentality? Gentlemen, Arsenal didn’t get their tactics right at all, despite what the majority of people think(i seems to be the only one that thinks that) The much that was right in their tactics, they had inept players to implement it….And playing against a barca with an Average performance, that waited well past the hour mark to get on the scoresheet, along with the measly chances they had(which ofcourse was as a result of that average performance) seems to colour people’s thinking

    All in all, very comical finishing from both sides, but then again if theres sommething i can everly bank on, its that the MSN would always get on the scoresheet- even if its one in hundred strikes, it was left for Arsenal to score first, they didn’t…..

    • February 25, 2016

      If Oxlade-Chamberlain had decided to shoot that ball anywhere except at a prone Ter Stegen, the match might have gone rather differently. Arsenal played a smart, disciplined match. They also made key errors in finishing, and buildup play. But those are part of the attacking life of every team.

      Ter Stegen made a brilliant save on the Giroud header. My prediction was for a 2-2 final at the Emirates. Arsenal was a poor shooting decision and a spectacular save from having that result become a reality, all else being equal. They were always going to give up chances to Messi, Suarez and Neymar. The question was always going to be how many of those chances would be finished. For both teams.

      Yes, Barça was strolling, yes they were tiring Arsenal out. But the view that Arsenal didn’t get it right can exist in the 20/20 hindsight afforded by a favorable result. For the most part, they did about as well as they could, before the law of averages as they relate to quality players, took over.

  24. Jim
    February 25, 2016

    Can’t speak for others but I thought Arsenal’s defensive performance was pretty good for most of the match and I wasn’t sitting there thinking this is easy. They lost the first goal on pretty much the first time they were caught short of numbers at the back and I see no reason to disagree with Wenger’s assessment that they got a bit excitable at the thought of scoring. They certainly had a few chances although his statement that he thought we were tiring at the end rather than them doesn’t fit with what I saw.

    However, from hearing our players speak it seems obvious that they knew they’d be in for a tough time and just had to dig in and wait for Arsenal to tire. I can’t believe Messi had the composure to save himself until he felt the game had opened up enough for him to come to life but that’s what it looked like and if anyone ever doubted his GOAT status they just need to review that touch with the sole of the boot.

    So, for me, a great display, but not one where. I felt we were in first gear. Rather one where we were supremely focused on not letting them either have the ball or get ahead. If they had managed to get one up that first goal doesn’t happen. Well done to the entire team for showing the patience to believe our constant possession and their constant running would come back to haunt them by the end.

    Is the second leg a foregone conclusion ? Logically, you’d have to say we don’t lose often by two goals at home so maybe, However, pressure and momentum are strange things. If Arsenal were to go ahead it would be uncomfortable for us. We are also minus Pique and towards the end of the game Arsenal finally got joy from cross balls from the left, something I’d have tried to do all night if I were them. Being from the left pulls Pique to the front post leaving Giroud and/or Welbeck with more or less a freehesder

  25. Jim
    February 25, 2016

    Woah, what happened there ? Mods, could you remove the first post please ?

  26. Cyclops
    February 25, 2016

    Did you saw the defending that gave the Ox the chance he scuffed? i said the marking overall in that game was one to raise your blood levels
    Always, when Arsenal got on the counter, precisely those chances they created, you could see how shaky the defending was
    If it was a Fit and Vibrant Barca giving away those chances i assure you i’d have switch off my T.V set, just as a precaution..so i dont see when Arsenal finally score

    But again, we’re letting barca’s play dictate the way we judge arsenal…They’re getting lots of props for their defensive play, when i actually think if we’ve done couple things better, like moving the ball at a faster pace, they’d have been caught out….I cant count how many times on opportunities to attack, they slowed the pace of the game down, while i’m screaming Move the ball upfield, dammit!
    At this stage its a given that coming all out, or defending isnt a pure antidote against this barca team, what matters now is the things you do to carry out any of the above tactics…Depending on how sophisticated there are- and ofcourse some luck, a victory/upset might be on the cards
    To that end, i’m not talking about their dicision to Defend, rather what they did to carry it out
    For one starting Giroud was an off dicision, their press was very mediocre, halfhearted at best, both in the way it was planned to be carried out, and the effort the players, especially the front men put to carry it out…

    A barca playing with the intensity they played with against Madrid would have-with due respect, crush this Arsenal team, thats my point…
    Arsenal played ok- RELATIVE to our performance, fullstop…

  27. Tata2
    February 25, 2016

    Saying the match should have ended 2-2 cos Arsenal had two scoring chances but missed them is inaccurate like I had earlier pointed out(You score and play resets or your game plan changes and the second chance doesn’t come up). But if we are to go by that, then in the first half, Suarez missed two clear chances he would have scored on any good day,so can we say the first half should have ended Ars 1-2 bar? And how about Suarez further miss? add Ney’s free header, the missed Suarez cross and selfish attempt to the foray, going by your logic then the match should have ended Ars 2-8 Bar. I agree that arsenal played a good disciplined defensive game but saying that we strolled by them isn’t an objective opinion for me. I also strongly believed that if Ox scored that goal, we would still have scored in the end (you could lose count of how many games we have come from behind to actually win this season) cos this isn’t barca ’12

  28. henrietta petawker
    February 26, 2016

    AW knew they were lost when Oxlade-Chamberlain had to leave.

  29. Tata2
    February 27, 2016

    Just rewatched the highlights and I noticed just how much the rest of the team trusts MSN. When MSN broke for the goal, the rest of the team were just strolling in our own half and allowed the MSN to do their thing. Also noticed how Unzue had to cut short Enrique’s celebration to most likely remind him of the next tactic on board… Does he ever celebrate goals?

  30. Cyclops
    February 27, 2016

    So RM lost…Officially they’re Bundled out of the Title Race..and what a bundling that was, lol

    Madrid fans should just go support Cricket already, its Embarassing…!

  31. February 27, 2016

    I screamed for the Atletico goal like I would for a Barca goal. Excellent running arrival by Felipe Luise and a wonderful assist, which is made to look easy, but actually isnt.
    Once Correa came in, he showed what Atletico lacks up front. Someone who can dribble well and move forwards, this boy is going to be a star. (Greizmann do dribble, but hesnt that successful always) I really dont u.stand why Simeone didnt give him more time, especially since Torres was so much of a waste.
    So it looks like a 3 points tomorrow will almost put us in driving seat with lots of fuel.

  32. Davour
    February 27, 2016

    This may sound odd, but I hope AM keep battling – and RM, too – to keep the excitement alive. in the league. Of course I am delighted Barca are doing so well, but sport is also about competition. It feels almost unfair we have all of MSN… and CR is obviously jealous, criticising his teammates and claiming Barca would not be so good if their forwards were injured all the time, like Bale, and now Karim. Well, Messi was out for 2 months.

    “Stats never lie”, CR said, “it’s easy”. Don’t they? Obviously he never heard the saying “lies, damned lies and statistics”. I think he is beginning to realise that this is Messi’s era – he single-handledly carried the attack for a few seasons, and he is the reason Neymar plays for Barca. CR should perhaps spit out the sour grapes and criticise Perez firing of Carlo…

  33. rileypowell
    May 3, 2016

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    ? Sometimes gold pendants also come with the marking ”14KP”.Here ”P” stands for plumb, meaning the pendant is exactly 14 pieces pure yellow metal.

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