Reactions: Arsenal and the Road to the Bernabeu

We've seen this matchup before...

When I saw the CL draw this morning, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of reactions would occur on this blog. It’s a fairly good mix of the positive, distraught, and absurd, which I suppose is fairly natural. Had I listed the teams I wanted to face in the quarters, Arsenal would have been third behind the two French teams (Bordeaux and Lyon).

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Arsenal is weak–not in the least, not with players like Arshavin, Cesc, and Nasri, to name just 3–instead they play a style that I think is enjoyable to watch and when you combine two beautiful styles, you often come up with a run-and-gun classic. Or sometimes you come up with the 2006 final, which was robbed of some of its style by Lehmann’s red card. I think this is going to be a tremendous couple of games and I hope they live up to my expectations. We aren’t going to paste them 4-0 like we did Stuttgart and they’re not going to paste us 5-0 like they did Porto.

I’m guessing, right now, without too much consideration to injuries and absences, that we’l see something like 2-2 at the Emirates and 2-1 or 1-1 at the Camp Nou. Obviously I’m biased and I think we’re the best team in the world, so take my predictions for what they are (Barça-centric thoughts), but I really do expect us to win and while the scoreline might not show it, I think it will be a brilliant couple of matches. We’re going to have to show up like we did in the return leg against Stuttgart in order to get by, but that’s the fun of it, really.

I don’t mind playing a quality team when we could have drawn a worse team because I think we’re the best and, as the best, we can beat anyone. We just have to play our damned asses off to do it. They’re good. But so are we and we can play with anyone, so let’s make them play with us, shall we? Let’s see if they can handle Xaviniesta with a side of Messias.

If we get by Arsenal, we’ll meet the winner of Inter-CSKA, which should be an interesting matchup in its own right. We’ve already played Inter and we know how good they are (defeating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge is no joke–we should know) and playing in Moscow in April wouldn’t be too bad, weather-wise. Then, if we get by Inter/CSKA, we’d be back to Spain for the final, which would be breathtakingly amazing, especially if it included Manchester United in a repeat of last year’s final. Not that I’m rooting for ManU at all–not in the least–but if they’re to make it, it would be a spectacular rematch.

We’ll get a taste of the Bernabeu regardless, with our away clásico scheduled for April 11, just half a week after our return leg against Arsenal. It would be just that much sweeter to have qualified for the semis of the CL as we visit They Who Cannot Get Beyond the Round of 16 and then to beat them and grab the Liga title from them. Monumental.

A funny aside mentioned by Marca: regardless of whether or not we’ll be “home” team should we qualify for the CL final, we won’t be using the RM locker room. Cause we don’t go into that ugly, evil space. Plus, we don’t want our players to pick up any, ahem, uncleanliness from particular lockers.

Much more later as we gear up for the trip to Zaragoza on Sunday, when we’ll likely be down 3 points to RM in the standings because they’re facing Gijon at home, which should be a win for them (but let’s hope it’s a catastrophe of Real Union or Lyon proportions). Pellegrini fuera! Woooo.

Categorized as Thoughts

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater Philadelphia area.


  1. It’s going to be a tough road, and I think away goals are going to be vital in each remaining round. Question: will Xavi/Keita/Abidal be ready for the first leg of the quarter finals?

  2. I think Arsenal will win as Barcelona will be more interested in trying to sign fabregas

  3. And it’s less likely we will be able to wear the blaugrana kits in the final because if ManU/Bayern/Bordeux make it to the final we gotta go alternative kit which will probably be the yellow one from last season in case of ManU or Bayern or the mango kit if it’s Bordeux

    1. Love it. . .haven’t even kicked a ball in the quarters and you’re already worrying about what you’ll be wearing in the final. Let’s hope the Barca players are as focused on Arsenal as you are(n’t).

      On a less sarcastic note, should be a good tie between the two best footballing sides in Europe.

    2. Well this article mentions how we won’t use the real madrid locker (if we get there) room and I decided to mention our chances of wearing the blaugrana in the final (again,if we get there)

  4. I sorta wanted an Arsenal Final, but I’ll take this tie anyday. I think our guys will be up for this on. I would worry more about a “minnow” than the gunners. Then Inter and ManU? does it get any better? (OK pasteing Chelsea 3-0 on aggregate would have been nice…but we are going to see some futbol!)

  5. Would have loved a Barca v Arsenal final! It would have been immense.. but on the positive side, the home and away legs and the advantages attached with the home leg is not going to be too significant IMO because both teams love to play the way all teams should play it.

    Good point about us not being in the EE locker room! Alves trying out Ronaldo’s panty hose would be weird!!!!

  6. girondins vs olympique? wtf
    both of the earlier and bayern in the same side? wtf
    all of them for manchester and CSKA INTER ARSENAL for us? WTF, EUROVILLARATO

  7. Aside from the pass-o-rama that may ensue, the beatings that the Arsenal has taken against England’s big 4 makes me feel a lot better about the tie. Also the fact that we wont have to see Man U until the finals makes me happy. If we play anywhere near how we did in the midweek the rest of the year, watch out.

  8. I think this is one of the most open champions leagues in years. I my opinion there is only one team that can’t potentially make it to the finals, CSKA Moscow (I’m not however, ruling out that they could beat Inter).

  9. Arsenal has proved to be a powerhouse in the ucl, their pounding of porto 5-0, without key players i add, should instil a some fear in the hearts of the barcelona players. they are also well-positioned in the domestic league, and even though they fell to manu and chelsea they play a completely different game in the ucl. the gunners will not lie down to barca and have them walk over them. messi may not be able to summon his magic against the likes silvestre gallas, and vermaelen etc.

    1. Carlos, do you know how Bayern Munich played against a Portuguese team last year before facing us? It was a 12-2 aggregate win. So the 6-1 aggregate against Porto doesn’t necessarily have to provoke fear in us.

  10. As for the barcelona squad avoiding the madrid locker00m, i think its best they do that lest they smear their smelly sweat off on the furniture and equipment. that is IF they make it to the finals.

  11. EMD says that both Xavi and Abidal will be fine by the first leg, which is excellent news. I hope that both sides can stay healthy, and deliver a tie that meets all of our expectations of quality. And may the best team win.

  12. I’m predicting that the initial 25 minutes of each match will be key to deciding the offensive/defensive flexible-tactics.

    Wingers and backs are going to pressure like madmen on both sides, but it’s the side that establishes dominance early that will keep the opponent’s wingers/backs at bay.

    While I think Alves, and hopefully Abidal are of a higher quality than Sagna, Eboue, and wheover they have at LB, I know that if Abidal/Maxwell are repressed by Walcott and Co., we may have to endure a left-less attack. WIthout Abidal bombing down the wing, Henry and Pedro!’s effectiveness is diminished, isolating Ibra and Messi to a center or right sided attack.

    We know we’re at our best when the offensive 3 can interchange with one another, but if we’re being blockaded by the opposing backs, things could get rough.

    One of the positives is that I don’t see us getting pushed around in the midfield. Arsenal has a lot of creativity, but I’m not sure if their destroyer (who is it?) has enough to take on Yaya, and even if he does, he’ll surely be vanquished by Pique.

    1. Jmo, your strategy suggests that they are going to have more of the ball which i don’t agree and the strategy would make sense. But with keita back, he would be able to man the left with abidal comfortably and would still manage to make the foray forward when the time is right allowing Henry and Iniesta to do what they do best.. make the lives of right-backs miserable.

      Coming back to the possession factor, I don’t think arsenal has played an opponent who likes possession and will probably keep it more than them. and if they thought Man U and Chelsea were good on the counter attackers, well they ain’t seen nothing yet!!!

      Kxevin recently complimented the fact that we started making the professional foul and it may sound negative, but it will be crucial in this tie. In the final in 2006 we made a lot of them to break up play when they (henry) had the ball. Could be a key factor

    2. I totally understand what you’re saying.

      I wasn’t hinting that we’d have less possession, actually, I don’t think if we’ve had less possession than ANY TEAM over the past 3 years. But it’d be naive to assume that we’re steady against fast, aggressive wingers. And with Theo, they’ve got one of the best.

      If we dominate possession, like I think we will, we’ll be able to control the chess match, but as we exploited Sergio Ramos for being overzealous the past two times we faced EE, I am slightly wary of seeing something similar happen to us.

      However, let’s remember, Abidal is of a different class mentally than Ramos, and I don’t anticipate selfishness of the part of our French Greyhound.

    3. Spot on with Abidal, he’s no ramos, he’s waaaaaaay better! There’s not a more solid left back in the business and i’m glad he’s ours.

      regarding the Theo threat, well, I don’t rate him highly at all, He’s an athlete first and then a footballer in the sense that he has the pace no doubt but he lacks footballing talent, no vision, his crossing leaves a lot to be desired, positionally he’s weak too and abidal should be able to handle him on his own. Their threat lies in the arshavin-nasri combination on the left. Alves will have to get it spot on.

      We should be able to handle them in midfield and look out for the killer pass from cesc cos he’s capable of it although Xavi, Iniesta and Toure/Keita/Busquets should be able to comfortably keep him out of the game. Khedira was Stuttgart’s main threat in midfield and he hardly touched the ball so i think Pep’s got that strategy spot on

    4. Not sure Walcott is one of the best. You’re right in that neither Maxwell nor Abidal is good against tricky wingers but Walcott for me doesn’t fall into that bracket. He’s fast but doesn’t have the dribbling skills. For that reason only I’d prefer Abidal’s pace over Maxwell for this one as long as he has had a full game under his belt. However, this is one match where he has to stay at home.

    5. Has Walcott been starting in CL matches? In the Arsenal matches I’ve seen, he comes on some time in the second half.

  13. Arsenal do not have the team to match up consistently against Barcelona for 180 minutes. They are very talented and frighteningly good. But they will not beat us.

  14. @JMo

    Our holding mid/destroyer is Alex Song, who’s actually had a bit of a breakout season this year (he’s only 22).

    Although he does occasionally get caught a bit too far up the pitch, he is generally quite strong positionally, has a knack for getting in the passing lanes and shields the back 4 well.

    And while he’s not Yaya big, he’s not small by any means at all, and will certainly do his best to impose himself and boss around some of the smaller Barca players.

    I have no doubts that his ability to do so, especially when it comes to controlling Xavi, will be pivotal in our bid to stop your (rather frightening) attack. 🙂

    Here’s a short compilation of his handiwork:


    1. ahhh but controlling xavi is only 1/6 of the problem, unfortunately. can’t stop the rain from falling, can’t stop barça from scoring. unless you play like inter, which you can’t do anyway because your defenders aren’t nearly as good as theirs. of course rubin kazan also stopped barça from scoring, but they had to use 10 defenders for 90 minutes to do it.

      song is a fine player, but he doesn’t face the likes of xaviniesta too often, his admirable talent will be tested to its limits.

      arsenal have many fine players, arshavin being the most dangerous in my eyes, his immense talent is one that i’ve admired greatly over the course of this season and during zenit’s uefa cup runs. can’t wait for march 31st!

  15. In my opinion, this is a quite unfortunate tie. Not because I fear Arsenal, but because I like the way the play. Sadly, one team will not make it through.

    As to the match up: They play the ball out very well, so our pressure will be less effective. Arshavin and Fabregas can turn a match at any point. Walcott could give our left back problems as well.

    That said, they have a real problem at left back. Clichy is a good player, but he is definitely not on form, coming back from injury. Considering how well Messi is playing…Also, Gallas probably won’t be back in time, so that leaves Vermaleen (who I rate) and Campbell (who is pretty good, but no longer top class). Plus, Arsenal are not used to playing with less possession.

    Prediction: 2-2 then 3-1. Barca through. Will be a great match up regardless (though it would have been a better semifinal).

    PS Alexinho must be gutted.

  16. I’ve been living under a rock the past few days so the first thing that came to my mind when I came to know it was Arsenal was
    *FLAME WARS* 😀

    Good thing we have the 2nd leg at home – remember the next game is the Clasic.. We need to be careful with injuries, so its a good thing we drew Arsenal who probably won’t be that physical..

    Here’s hoping to a nice open game..

  17. BTW, the previous is 3rd on the list of popular posts (maybe be list of the most popular posts on the blog), so imagine the number of hits the blog got..

    Isaiah and Kxevin must be rubbing their hands in glee.. 😛

  18. Henry is behaving more stupidly already:

    (3rd last photo)

    Must be because we are going to face arsenal…

  19. *

    Here’s a new ad with lots of Barca players in it…

  20. What sort of exercise is this?


  21. Apparently Messi is doubtful to start tomorrow. He has some kind of a dental problem:


    ‘Guardiola revealed that Leo Messi, who missed training this morning: “didn’t feel too good. He’ll make the trip to Zaragoza and we’ll see how he is”’.

    Hopeful everyone takes this match seriously. Zaragoza are in good form and have improved a lot since the 6-1 at the Camp Nou. It’d be a blow to have both Xavi and Messi unavailable, as they are two of our best playmakers. Maybe Pep can play Zlatan in the false nine role that Messi usually takes, with Henry and Pedro/Bojan on either side?

    1. That was a handball by VDV on the 1st goal.Dont want to hear any villarato BS this week.

  22. It was 0-0 until 50 mins. Was hopin at least for a draw. Gijon scores, gives a FC. EE scores and, scores II on corner.
    Wateva happens, I am not goin to watch anymore. May be it will end up as a draw.

  23. Poor Sporting, they deserved more. Handball on Van der Vaart’s goal and a foul on Castro (I think) in the RM box right before Higuain scored the third. They tried though.

    Botia looked very good, he made a number of last minute tackles on CR. Hope he gets a chance at Barça someday. Last I heard Sporting wants to either buy him or keep him on loan for another year.

    Oh and finally, were there like 20,000 Sporting fans there? I heard far more whistles for RM players. There were even a few ‘olés’ near the end when Sporting were pressing and managed to string a few passes together.

  24. Wow, go on vacation for 2 days and what happends? 🙂

    First, I’d like to thank everyone that helped me out a couple of posts ago. After much wrestling, I finally managed to watch the Stuttgart match. All I have to say about it was the agonizing 2 days of not knowing the score and then watching it in HD was worth it.

    SO worth it.

  25. Aword to the (inevitable) Gooners that will visit the blog these next couple of days.

    I think speak for (almost) everyone on BFB when I say: Welcome!

    It’s always nice to have oposition fans come over and talk Football. Some friendly banter here, a jab there. It’s all fair game. It’ll be a treat to read the insights you ‘blokes’ give us on how your team really plays Football. Most of us do support Arsenal in the EPL, myself included, and respect your team and your football.

    However, as much as we love having you guys over, this is, first and foremost, a BARCELONA blog. As we talk about all things Barca, from tactic, to players, to funny stories from the infamously delusional Spanish press, we may offend some people. When I say that, obviously, I’m talking about L’affair Cesc.

    I just want to say it straight up: 90% of the people on this blog (or aleast the commentors) DO NOT WANT THE PLAYER NAMED FRANCESC FABREGAS. That includes whatever alias he’s refered to, i.e ‘Cesc Fabregas’, ‘the Arsenal Captain’, the Catalan Playmaker on Arsenal’, ‘that Spanish bloke who can really pass that football’, etc.

    There is so much more to this tie than ‘wE hAve CeSc fAbreGas, N00bs!’, ‘yOu arrogant SPanyards are iN for A ReAl suprise’, ‘You Barca fans are so classless and arrogant. You come to our blogs with your high and mightly attitudes’, etc. The only people you’re embarressing are your fellow Gooners. You know that we know that you have more class than that. Some chose not to. IF you’re one of those people, please just post your whateveryouhavetosay and leave.

    I’m sorry if other Barca fans have come trolling on the blog you fans go to. I really am. But, it’s rich that the very trollers you are complaining about; you are have become. Actaully, there is a word for that; irony.

    If you just keep your minds and eyes unclouded with bias and dislike, you’ll find the Barcelona Football Blog is NOT a typical blog. The posters here are friendly, insightful, openminded, and any other postitive adjective you can think of. Isaiah, Kevin, and Hector have put together a really awesome community of Barca fanatics–real and genuine Cules. What makes it even more special is the diversity of the people here. You have posters from Canada (me!), US, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Macedonia… Honestly, I feel really proud to be part of the community, ever since its Barca Offside days.

    What makes a fan a fan isn’t if they were BORN in the area, if they’re family has supported it for generations, if they go to all the matches… I take my hat off to you if the aforementioned points apply, all or some. However, what I believe makes a club great, is the how many different people, from all over the world, are just mad about their team. In my opinion, watching Barca on a grainy stream is the same as standing in the pouring rain in Camp Nou. The dedication is the same. What’s different is the opportunity to show that dedication.

    We respect your opinions; we’ll agree to disagree; we’ll eat some humble pie if you argue your points respectably and effectivly.

    We just ask for the same in return.


    1. I’m happy to have your approval 😀 .

      Firstly, sorry for the grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. I guess a 5 hour road trip’ll do that to you 😛 .

      Secondly, if one of those troll come, and believe me in the last post, they came, they saw, they trolled quite spectacularly (last post is second on the All-time Popular Posts list), PLEASE IGNORE THEM.

      They may not go away; they may continue being hellbent on embarressing themselves; but that doesn’t mean we have to acknowledge them, or egg them on. Just respond to the ones that actually have something constructive to say (and laugh at the other ones in your heads), because that’s the BFB way.


  26. @Kari

    From a Canadian Gooner who supports Barca as his second team – I couldn’t agree more. Here’s to 2 games of brilliant football!

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