Arsenal Succumb to Barcelona, Messi, Football and Themselves

Luis SandovalContributor IMarch 8, 2011

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 08:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona (R) scores his first team's side goal under a chanllenge by Johan Djourou of Arsenal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match between Barcelona and Arsenal at the Camp Nou stadium on March 8, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

I am not an Arsenal fan. I am a Barcelona supporter. But amidst that, I am a fan of offensive football and respect for the ball.

Under that principle, I have respected Wegner's team, because as long as I can remember it has always played to win. It has never hidden and has always tried to provide spectacle for the fans.

However, what we saw today was simply an exercise in futility by the London side.

The loss to Barcelona is a painful one for Arsenal fans. It couldn't be any other way. They are out of the Champions League once again.

They have to wait another year for their youngsters to continue to develop and hope that they will finally show up next year. No doubt about that.

This loss, however, should be more painful because Arsenal betrayed themselves. It is one thing to lose fighting, another very different is to lose while giving up.

Arsenal lost cause they played a style of football that is not their own. It was a lack luster brand of football that was paltry in comparison to other Arsenal performances.

They surrendered the ball, surrendered the pitch and surrendered themselves to a team that, while superior, looked even more unreachable in talent for the London side.

Arsenal's football, as Barcelona's, depends on its midfielders.

It depends and it's defined by ball possession, not by defensive speculation (that is best left for teams coached by a certain Portuguese manager).

When you have players like Fabregas, Wilshere, Van Persie, Nasri and Rosicky, you can't expect them to efficiently defend their own pitch from the patient and potent attack of, perhaps, the best team in the world.

You cannot surrender right out of the gate. You cannot give the ball to Barcelona and the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Villa, Alves and Pedro, and ask them to beat you; they will.

Arsenal's poor performance started by betraying their brand of football.

Arsenal, under Wegner, has played to propose, to invite the other team to play, to try to reach the opposite goal and to beat the other team.

Today, besides Busquets own goal and the Bendtner opportunity saved by Mascherano, Arsenal didn't create any problems for an improvised Barcelona defense. Today, they played to not be beaten.

Today's outing culminated in a performance that is not what you'd expect from a top Premiership team, but instead what you'd get by a bottom feeder. Arsenal played Barcelona just like the last team in 'La Liga' standings would have–with fear and without hunger.

Arsenal played with no urgency, and seemed complacent even after Barcelona went up 3-1 and they needed a goal. Arsenal's players looked defeated, simply beaten and dejected.

Now, not all the blame goes to Arsenal.

After all, Barcelona executes a kind of football that has no parallel in today's football. Barcelona moved the ball with ease and only looked hurried after the game went 1-1 and time started to become and issue for the Catalan side. But overall, Barcelona played a game in which they didn't suffer. A game that from the first minute was palpable that it was going to go on their favor.

For Barcelona is onto the next round to keep on gracing European pitches with quality offensive football. It is another step in the hunt for another Trophy. For Barcelona is the continuation and the reward for playing to win. For knowing that with talent, if you play to win, more often than not you will win.

Today's win is a win for the good being of football. Barcelona's win was certainly well-deserved, not only cause the best brand of football won, but because the only team that seemed to wanted to win, did so.

Arsenal played to not lose the game. Arsenal played for the 0-0 result that would see them through. Unfortunately, when your plan is to not lose, how can you expect to win?

On a last note: After his two scores today, Messi has become the top scorer on all three competitions he is participating on. An accomplishment not to be overlooked.