Barcelona v Arsenal aggregate 2 – 2
Uefa Champions League quarter-final second leg.
Ground: Camp Nou Date: Tuesday, 6 April Kick-off: 19:45 BST
For most football purists, watching the opening 20 minutes of the first leg of the Champions League quarter final last week was a fantastic experience. Few, if anybody, would have thought that Arsenal would still be in with a chance of getting a result come the end of the first 90 minutes. But somehow, mainly thanks to the impact of Theo Walcott coming off the bench, the second leg is still competitive and an even more mouthwatering a prospect than the first game.
We caught up with former Arsenal player Perry Groves to give his analysis ahead of the tie:
Arsenal have to go to Spain and score to have any chance of progressing, due to the two away goals scored by Barcelona at The Emirates.
The Gunners need to win the game, or draw, scoring at least two goals. A 2-2 draw will take the game into extra time and possibly penalties. A draw with at least 3 goals each would mean Arsenal win on the away goals rule. Unlikely.
Barcelona will also go through with a victory. They can also draw the game 0-0 or 1-1 and reach the semi-final. Comfort.
Perry Groves: “Barcelona are overwhelming favourites and that will help Arsenal. Barcelona have all the pressure as it is their game to lose, Arsenal can turn up nice and relaxed. Which is much the same as when we (Arsenal) went to Liverpool and won the League in 1989”.
Both clubs will be missing influential players.
Barcelona: Barcelona are missing their first choice central defensive pairing of Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique, both banned. Barca’s captain Puyol is suspended as he was sent off last week and Pique is banned for picking up too many yellow cards. Rafael Marquez and Gabriel Milito will most likely play in central defence, the pair don’t often play together but are still established internationals. Experience.
Puyol’s challenge on Fabregas: Arsenal won and scored from the penalty spot and Puyol was sent off.
Barcelona: The Spaniards will also go into the second leg without Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Andres Iniesta.The scorer of Barcelona’s two goals in the first leg is missing with a thigh strain and Iniesta, who missed the first leg, is also ruled out with a muscular leg injury. Blow.
Iniesta may play or be on the bench. In place of Ibrahimovic Barcelona have Henry or Bojan to come in, they’re not bad replacements.
Arsenal: From the first leg, captain Cesc Fabregas is suspended and injured and Andrei Arshavin and William Gallas were also injured. They have now been joined by midfield defensive lynchpin Alex Song, who also provides cover in central defence. These recent losses are on top of a sizeable long term injury list Arsenal already had. Squad.
Perry Groves: “Both sides have players missing and it will hurt Arsenal more than Barcelona. Barcelona have more strength in depth. Arsenal are missing their four best players, Van Persie, Fabregas, Song and Gallas and these players are all in key positions – through the middle of the pitch.
Barcelona Xavi: One of the finest play-makers in football. Xavi will be pulling the strings in the heart of the Barcelona midfield. Playmaker.
Perry Groves: “The obvious one is Messi, but I think Xavi is more important. He made Barcelona tick in the first game and can hurt Arsenal”.
Xavi wears the adidas Predator PowerSwerve football boot.
Arsenal Walcott: His blistering pace helped Arsenal upset Barcelona in the first leg after coming on as a substitute. Speed.
Perry Groves: Walcott is Arsenal’s potential match winner because of his pace. He’ll force Barcelona deeper like he did last week. Bendtner will play up front on his own and Arsenal will need Walcott to quickly join in with his pace.
Theo Walcott wears the Mercurial Vapor Superfly II football boot.
What do you think, has Perry Groves got it right? Can Arsenal upset the odds, or are Barcelona too good?