Can Arsenal Defeat Barcelona at Camp Nou?
With their stunning comeback win over Barcelona, Arsenal's job is still only half complete.
Arsenal still need to go to Camp Nou and, at the very least, avoid defeat to progress to the Quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League. While it would be a huge shock if Arsenal knock the 2009 Champions out of the competition, the task ahead is definitely not impossible.
Don’t be fooled, the Gunners do have a glorious chance of progressing to the next round, but that is only if they play a superb defensive game at the Nou Camp.
Here is what they should do to have the best possible chance of winning the tie.
1) Adapt To The Game
Arsenal should not try to defeat Barca in their own passing game. Believe me, this is simply not possible. Barcelona will surely dominate possession, like they did in Emirates.
Arsenal need to shackle Barcelona—stop them in their tracks. Intercepting passes generally leads to counter-attacks, but one would have to be overly optimistic to expect Barcelona players to find Arsenal players at the end of their passes.
Arsenal shouldn’t let Barca settle in their rhythm. While one cannot deny Barcelona will have greater possession, Arsenal should make it a point that the possessions don't turn into a fluid passing game for the Catalans—lest the contest should be over before half-time.
Arsenal will probably need two defensive midfielders to protect their back-four. The 4-2-3-1 system should work for the Gunners if they are to stop Messi and Co.
Laurent Koscielny played the game of his life in the first leg at Emirates. The problem is that he will have to play even better in the second leg.
Arsenal hopes the width provided by Nasri/Walcott/Arshavin could net them with a goal, giving them some breathing space.
3) Man Mark Messi
It’s almost certain that Barcelona will be itching to prove that the loss at Emirates was just a blip. Arsenal has to find a way to tackle the inevitable Lionel Messi backlash at the Camp Nou.
To start off, Inter Milan’s magnificent performance against Barcelona last year could serve as great inspiration. That night Inter were truly impenetrable in defence. The same should be expected of Arsenal if they want to proceed to the knock-out stages.
Looking at Inter’s set-up against Barca, one sees that Cambiasso and Zanetti were constantly man-marking Messi—both were intelligently blocking his short one-twos and breath-taking runs through the defence.
This is precisely the job Diaby/Song and Wilshere would be asked to do.
Believe it or not, a slice of luck could change the entire outcome of the game.
A mistimed tackle, a successful dive, a poor off-side call or a goal-keeping blunder could swing the game in one side’s favour.
Look out for these freak instances which would surely make the game all the more memorable.