Arsenal-Barcelona: Four Duels We Would Like To See
On March 31, 2010, the Emirates Stadium will witness the homecoming of one of its greatest players, Thierry Henry, when Arsenal hosts defending champions Barcelona in their Champions League quarterfinal showdown.
The match between the 2006 Champions League finalists is the most-awaited game in the quarterfinal stages of the Champions League.
Both legs of this quarterfinal face-off will be hotly contested, as the Gunners make a bid to avenge their 2006 Champions League defeat while the Catalans will try to continue their successful run of defending the trophy.
Duels between players of the two clubs will surely occur. In this slideshow we will look into the duels that we would love to watch.
The outcome of these duels will decide whether the Gunners can avenge their 2006 Champions League final defeat or whether Barcelona will prevail yet again.
Can Song Control Iniesta?
Alex Song has been one of the most impressive players for Arsenal this season.
With the injured William Gallas out of Arsenal's home leg against Barcelona, he may be assigned a huge responsibility—i.e., containing arguably the world's best midfielder, Andres Iniesta.
The 2009-10 season has seen Song develop into an impressive defensive midfielder. He has played a crucial role in the Gunners' defense this season and has also been very impressive as a defensive midfielder with his accurate and measured passes.
Iniesta, on the other hand, is unquestionably at the peak of his footballing career. The humble 5'7" Spanish midfielder has been one of Barcelona's prime attacking weapons.
He played a crucial role in Barcelona's record-breaking sextuplet win last season, making superb crosses and incisions into the opponent's defense. He has maintained that same form this season.
The duel between these two men will be worth watching. Can Song can mark Iniesta out of the game, or will Iniesta will make Song look a hapless defender?
This duel between Song and Iniesta will play a crucial role in deciding the fate of their respective clubs.
Will Alves Be Able To Contain Nasri?
Dani Alves is presently regarded by many as the best right back in the world. With his seemingly endless stamina, defensive skills, attacking ability, and fierce pace, he has been one of the top performers for the Catalans this season.
His meteoric rise as an attacking right back in Barca has turned him into a top transfer target for many European clubs, like Chelsea.
The 22-year-old French midfielder Samir Nasri has been regarded by many as the next big thing from France. Comparisons are inevitably being made with the legendary Zinedine Zidane.
The Gunners' attacking midfielder has been in superb form for Arsenal since his return from an injury. His wonderful goal against Porto in the Champions League match was a sign of the skills he possesses.
Nasri will be one of the crucial attacking weapons for Arsenal against Barcelona. Another impressive performance similar to the one against Porto can seal a semifinal berth for Arsenal. But he will be marked by Brazilian right back Alves, who is at the peak of his game.
The duel between these two promising youngsters will be a treat to watch for all football lovers.
It will be exciting to see whether Alves can contain the high-flying Nasri or if the Frenchman can deliver another scintillating performance and ensure his team's progress to the next round of the Champions League.
Will Messi Outplay Arsenal's "Verminator"?
Thomas Vermaelen, nicknamed "THE VERMINATOR" by Arsenal fans, has been undoubtedly the best signing in the Premier League for the 2009-10 season.
He has been the mainstay in the Gunners' defense with his impressive defensive skills and aerial ability. Vermaelen has also scored eight goals for Arsenal this season and can be a surprise attacking option during set pieces or corners.
The 24-year-old Belgian's performance for the Gunners has been very impressive, and Wenger will be hoping that Vermaelen continues his great form against the 2009 Champions League winners.
Lionel Messi has lived up to his reputation as the "Next Maradona" with his superb performance this season. The 22-year-old Argentine has won the 2009 FIFA Player of the Year award, the Ballon d'Or, and plenty more.
His performance has been simply breathtaking this season. Watching the "baby-faced" Messi play is real entertainment. He has already scored 34 goals this season for Barcelona and will be hoping to add some more to his tally.
The "Verminator" will face an uphill task to contain one of the best players in the world. This might be touted as Vermaelen's acid test.
If Vermaelen can contain the in-form Messi, Arsenal will have a high chance of avenging their defeat to the Catalans in the 2006 Champions League final, and the Arsenal center back can establish himself as a world-class defender. Who will have the last laugh?
The Emirates Stadium and Nou Camp will be the witnesses to the result of this duel.
Battle of the Captains: Puyol against Cesc
Carles Puyol, the Catalans' inspirational captain, along with the young Alves, has been one of the main reasons for Barcelona's defensive success. He has been in superb form this season and is the lifeline to Barca's defense.
The Spanish central defender is regarded by many as one of the best defenders of his generation. His superb defensive reflexes, endless stamina, and fearless attitude make him one of the best defenders in the world.
Francesc Fabregas is presently one of the most widely accepted talented youngsters of his generation. The 22-year-old Arsenal captain has been breathtaking since his rise through Arsenal's ranks.
The Spaniard's virtually flawless passes are the mainstay of Arsenal's intricate passing game. His matured vision and magnificent creativity are the mainstay of Arsenal's attacking game play.
He has been in peak form this season, scoring 18 goals already and making numerous goal-scoring chances for his Gunners teammates.
The all-Spanish duel between the two captains of the opposing teams will be the prime attraction. Moreover, with rumors rife that Cesc may leave for his childhood club Barca this summer, all eyes will be on the Spanish midfielder.
Puyol is expected to be given the responsibility for keeping a check on the Gunners' inspirational captain. If Puyol manages to stifle Arsenal's attacking lifeline, i.e. Fabregas, the match may be already half won by Barca.
It will be a joy for football fans all over the world to watch whether Puyol can really stifle the Gunners' captain or if Cesc can deliver a match-winning performance to hand Arsenal a Champions League semifinal berth.