Arsenal legend Thierry Henry has declared if Barcelona can stop Mesut Ozil when the two sides clash in the UEFA Champions League last-16 first leg on Tuesday, the Gunners' chances of winning will be "practically dead."
The Champions League's official Twitter account quoted the iconic Frenchman commenting about the tie between two of his former clubs, and he made it clear what the Blaugrana need to do at the Emirates Stadium:
Champions League @ChampionsLeague
Henry: "He's playing very very well. If you can stop Mesut Özil, Arsenal are practically dead." #UCL https://t.co/3i979MMfrJ2/22/2016, 1:01:06 PM
Henry also spoke about the fixture in his column for the Sun and said Arsenal will have to play a less familiar tactical game against the treble winners and must "sacrifice" part of their attacking instinct in both legs:
They [Arsenal] have to accept they will probably only have 30 per cent possession and must be so efficient when they do get the ball. They need everyone to put a shift in.
The whole team must defend more as a unit and the wingers must tuck in and play more in their own half.
You very rarely get the chance to play against Barcelona so you must be prepared to sacrifice parts of your attacking game, home and away.
Arsenal must be brave on the ball. They need to stay compact, play on the counter and score every time they get in their penalty area.
They can’t be exposed in the middle and must force Barcelona to run back 60 yards before they get the ball. If you allow them to stay in your half for wave after wave, it becomes almost impossible to defend.
Barca are on a tremendous run of form in the Spanish league ahead of their European commitments, underlying their current potency and are 18 unbeaten in the Primera Division—as highlighted by WhoScored.com:
Longest current unbeaten runs in Europe’s top 5 leagues https://t.co/y0tT2IFXvp2/22/2016, 4:48:08 PM
Wenger paid the MSN trinity a huge compliment on Monday ahead of the match and said the trio are on par with the famous Real Madrid threat of Alfredo Di Stefano, Francisco Gento and Ferenc Puskas from the 1950s, as quoted by the Daily Mail's Kieran Gill.
"Yes. [Raymond] Kopa, Di Stefano, Gento, Puskas," said Wenger. "It's difficult to compare with this team. I believe that apart from the individual talent the three have, they have a good understanding and cohesion. They have a great solidarity."
Barcelona's current form dictates Arsenal face a mission impossible when they welcome the current holders to north London.
However, as Henry highlighted, Ozil is the key to the puzzle for the Gunners, and the World Cup winner's performance could be the difference between elimination or a shock victory.
Arsenal have displayed inconsistent tendencies this term, but the return to fitness of Alexis Sanchez gives Wenger a player who knows the Blaugrana system and their natural weaknesses.
If the Gunners can find a way of limiting the MSN trinity on Tuesday, they can arrive at the Camp Nou for the second leg with a puncher's chance of qualification.
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