Quarter-final, second leg – Kick-off: 20-45 (CET)
First leg: Arsenal 2-2 Barcelona
Ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final second leg, Barcelona coach, Josep Guardiola hopes his his side will be praised for eliminating Arsenal rather than the quality of their football.
“We have to play to win the match and we know how difficult that will be,” said Guardiola, who will be without the injured, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, scorer of both Barca goals in the first leg.
“We’re in the quarter-finals against a team that reached the semi-finals last season, with good players – players who can play in different positions, who are very fast and only a few points behind Chelsea in the Premier League. Walcott concerns me because of his speed. He played very well against us and also this weekend.
“I hope the stadium will be full because it’s the most important match of the season. I think it’ll be an attractive match for everyone, either at the stadium or watching at home. We will try to keep the ball and play simple football.
“I don’t know who has the upper hand after the first leg. It’s going to be like a final and we will see. We need to reach the semi-finals, otherwise people will just remember, yes, Barcelona played a good first half in London.
Meanwhile, Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, has called on his players to make history in Camp Nou tonight.
Shorn of several, key first-team players including Aaron Ramsey, Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, William Gallas, Andrey Arshavin and Alex Song, Wenger could be forgiven for fearing the worst tonight. But the French boss spoke optimistically of exploiting Barcelona’s weaknesses.
“When you don’t have the ball, you can’t play, especially against Barcelona. We have to make the pitch smaller. Of course, half of the battle will be in the midfield; we will especially have to watch out for Xavi. I think the first leg was exciting and the second leg promises to be more so.
“Personally I would like goals as soon as possible and to take advantage of Barcelona’s weaknesses and I have a team that never gives up and has exceptional mental strength.
“Barcelona could be disappointed about us coming back in the first leg, but for us the key is to start strongly tomorrow. I think we have won everywhere in Europe except here. Life is about grabbing opportunities and we can make history tomorrow if we can do that. I know we will fight for it and I have always defended the team through tough parts of the season.
Wenger refused to countenance the possibility of former Arsenal legend, Thierry Henry, being the man to deliver the killer blow tonight.
“I don’t think about Henry scoring the winning goal against his former club,” he said. “Henry can also score own goals if he wants. He’s not the only player who can score, but we have to concentrate on ourselves.”