First leg: Real Madrid 0-1 Arsenal
Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger is confident his team can complete the job they began in Spain two weeks ago by beating Real Madrid at Highbury.
But Wenger, expects Real to put on a better showing than their performance a fortnight ago.
“I expect them to perform at their best,” he warned.
“We have to concentrate and to defend for the whole match,” he said.
“If we don’t, even if we miss that for just five minutes, it can be fatal. This is the second part of a knockout over 180 minutes and it will be a very big game. We have belief that we can do it and we can score again. We know we are on the right track.”
Robert Pires has been added to the squad, but defenders Sol Campbell, Pascal Cygan, Gaël Clichy and Ashley Cole remain unfit.
“Pires will be a very important part of our plans,” said Wenger, who added that forward 16-year-old Theo Walcott will be on the substitutes’ bench.
Walcott, however, will not become the youngest player to appear in the UEFA Champions League if called upon. Celestine Babayaro started RSC Anderlecht’s tie against FC Steaua Bucuresti in November 1994 aged 16 years and 87 days. Should he score, though, Walcott would be the youngest to find the net in the competition.
Real Madrid coach Juan Ramón Lopez Caro has confirmed that his team will attack but gave no indication whether Ronaldo – dropped from the squad for last weekend’s derby match with Atletico Madrid – will play.
“We are going to attack and try to win, we are not going to change our approach,” said López Caro.
“Both teams play open, attacking football. In the first leg, Arsenal worked very hard and nobody could have done more than they did. They have an advantage, but we are not going to abandon our style. The team that scores the most goals will win and it’s going to be about being clinical with the chances.
“We have players who can play physically, but I think the most important thing is how you play the ball. We have technical players and will try to play technically, but we will keep some physicality in our game.”
Subscribe to World Soccer – The essential football magazine.