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Can Arsenal really beat Barcelona?

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Can Arsenal really beat Barcelona?

Post by tammy on Wed Feb 16, 2011 7:18 am

Arsenal will be looking for sweet revenge tonight as they take on the one team in the world that plays football just that little bit prettier than they do. The Gunners have matured and have surprised many this season, but have they improved enough to beat the Spanish champions Barcelona?

History tells us that the great Catalan club are beatable, but also that clubs must adjust their tactics and play to their best to be in with a chance of winning. Football.co.uk's Jamie Clarke ponders some of the ways in which Arsene Wenger might approach tonight's clash at the Emirates.

Play through the middle

In the past year Barcelona have lost just three times domestically and once to Inter Milan in Europe. Sevilla, Athletico Madrid and Hercules have all beaten Pep Guardiola's men in La Liga, with similarities appearing in each of Barca's defeats.

In all three games, Barcelona's opponents have tried to stay as narrow as possible and as tight as they could to the man next to them. This tactic restricts everything Barca pride themselves on - passing and moving into spaces between the midfield and defence.

The counter argument to this approach, though, is that if you get too narrow and neglect the wide areas, this could backfire tremendously with the ever-attacking Daniel Alves getting too much space. The Brazilian full-back has virtually played as a right winger this season and he will have to be looked after just as much as Barca's main men Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta.

These tactics may seem somewhat negative and we need to remember that Arsenal are the home side and they will need to win the game to give themselves a realistic chance of progressing over two legs. It will be interesting to see whether Wenger can find the balance between containment and attack. Arsenal will likely field an energetic five-man midfield so this might just work.


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