To be honest, and this is no disrespect to the Arsenal side that will be facing Barcelona tonight, it should not really matter too much if our manager Luis Enrique gets his tactics wrong in north London tonight. It would probably only be a footnote in the annals of football history if Arsene Wenger and his players cdan spring a big surprise and win the first leg of the double-headed Champions League clash.
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Barcelona have set the bar so high in recent seasons that any kind of wobble, regardless of how minor it may be, is going to be scrutinised in minute detail.
They are no ordinary side, they operate in a bubble those who have never experienced life inside can probably never fully understand.
They are, as they quite rightly like to point out, ‘mes que un club’.
It is for that reason that, despite sitting joint-top of their domestic division – with La Liga betting experts still fancying them to secure back-to-back crowns – and progressing positively in Europe, questions have been raised in recent weeks as to the productivity of their performances.
Luis Enrique and the Barcelona players will be under no illusion that they are through to the semi-finals of the Champions League just yet. But having today´s second leg at the Nou Camp and a 3-1 lead over PSG from the first leg at the Stade de France makes us clear favourites.
PSG need to score at least three times tonight but they do have a couple of key players back in the form of the former Barca striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and midfield maestro Marco Verratti. And we saw from the previous round against Chelsea that the French champions are capable of causing an upset, so we don´t really need the Real Madrid assistant Zinedine Zidane to tell us that PSG could possibly go through, as reported by ESPN.
I have been reading reports that FC Barcelona are not planning any big celebrations for this season, even though they have their destiny in their own hands and just need to win today to retain the title of champions of Spain. But this is ridiculous.
In fact, the Catalans should possibly view this trophy as the best, because it was the hardest to come by. With all the problems and twists in this landmark season, for Barcelona to finish it as champions, ahead of the two Champions League finalists from Madrid, would be pretty amazing.
FC Barcelona have enough problems on their hands without having to deal with Cristiano Ronaldo, so Tata Martino and his players will have received the injury update from Carlo Ancelotti with open arms. Ronaldo is still out of action with what is being reported as tendonitis or a muscular problem in the thigh.
Andres Iniesta and other Barcelona players have refused, publicly at least, to accept that Real Madrid will be significantly weakened by this, as they have the likes of Isco, Di Mari and Morata who could take his place, but they must be pretty glad of the news really.
The Champions League draw threw up a clash between the top two teams in La Liga, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, which many think will be the tie of the round. And the fact that Diego Simeone’s team play the second leg at their home ground gives them a slight advantage, with the Vicente Calderon being a notoriously hard place to go.
So Barcelona must make the most of the injury that Madrid’s powerful and prolific striker Diego Costa picked up in training yesterday. The Brazilian born forward would have caused Barca a major problem, especially without the unlucky Victor Valdes who is out for the season.
Barcelona know that the famous derby win over Real Madrid on Sunday will probably count for nothing more than bragging rights unless they continue in that form and retain their La Liga crown. So it is not good news that they face a crucial game against Celta Vigo without the brilliant and experienced Xavi Hernandez in the squad, according to Mundo Deportivo.
At least the game is at the Nou Camp, where the crowd will be a huge help as they celebrate the victory over arch rivals Real Madrid. Tata Martino is expected to go even more attacking than usual in the absence of Xavi, so it is likely to be a central three of Iniesta, Busquets and Fabregas.
FC Barcelona will be expecting to have to beat Real Sociedad today to retain their place at the top of La Liga, because Real Madrid have the much easier task of a home game against Elche. Barcelona can expect a tough away match, with the Sociedad manager, players and fans seeking revenge for what they see as a very unfair game at the Nou Camp recently.