Resurrection

– We’ve been left for dead many times. Here’s a small list: when van Persie was injured, when Chelsea beat us 3-0 at home, when United beat us at the Emirates, when Chelsea beat us at Stamford Bridge, when we went down 2-0 to the World Champions Barcelona one week ago, when we entered the 93rd minute against Wolves. We fought back from every single situation. There is a great spirit in this team. Wenger speaks about it routinely, and this year the team has been backing his words. We are not the complete package, but you can never count this team out.

– We needed a miracle after being down 2-0 to Barcelona, and we concocted a resurrection. Now, with Cesc, Arshavin, Gallas, Song, and van Persie all out, we need another titanic effort. Wenger has never seen such an injury list before, but it’s something we’ve been dealing with for the whole year.

– In the first leg, Barcelona rightly earned plaudits for their possession exhibition in the first half of the game. But, we did not possess the right mentality to start the game. We were in awe of Barcelona and it showed. We allowed Dani Alves to run amok on the right flank, which is where most of their dangerous play originated from. Noted as massive underdogs, we must come out as if we have nothing to lose, because that’s simply the truth. Lose, and nobody can knock us for it (except for people like Myles Palmer). Win, and everybody will single out the dogged determination that this team is increasingly becoming known for.

– At the same time, let’s not forget that Barcelona will be missing their two first choice centre-backs, Iniesta, and Ibrahimovic. They have their share of selection problems as well.

– It would be highly beneficial to us if Sol Campbell was passed fit for the match. Playing Silvestre would give us two left-footed centre-backs, something that may be a bigger disadvantage when having to face Lionel Messi. Messi had a subdued match (on his standards) in the first leg, but at the Nou Camp, he will be itching to deliver a vintage performance. If you look at the two goals that Barcelona did score, both came off of poor attempts to play offside traps, an error that came from Alex Song having to shift back into defense. Our keeper failed to cancel out those errors, but to his credit, he did pull off “a thousand saves” according to Guardiola.

– In the midfield, we should start Denilson, Diaby, and Nasri. As noted yesterday here on 1886, Denilson may thrive more in a European style fixture. He was one of our better players in the first leg, and his passing may help to absorb some of the pressure that Barcelona will definitely deliver. Diaby may be told to put in more of a defensive effort. We must contain Barcelona at all costs and play like an away side. A 0-0 halftime result would not be a bad thing for us. Nasri must become the talisman he was for Marseille. He is capable of big performances, and his cameo role at Wolves showed much of his class.

– Up top, I would play Walcott on the right wing. There has been debate about whether he should start or not, but with Rosicky being a 50-50 for the match, the team shouldn’t take the risk of having to make an early sub. We were forced to make two early subs in the first leg, which deprived Wenger of making game changing subs. Thankfully, Theo did make a big difference, and Barcelona are only talking about Theo. Abidal has talked about how it’s not how fast you are, but what you do with the ball. He said Walcott will have to go through four defenders. Frankly, that would be a huge boon if Walcott attracts that much attention. That would create space and take away defenders from Barcelona’s line. Whether he does anything with the ball or not, Theo should be fed balls in between the Barcelona’s centre-back and Abidal. Guardiola responded by stating that the way you stop Walcott is by not giving up the ball. He’s a smart man.

– On a quick note, what ridiculous statements by the English media and Karl Henry. During the match, there was a moment when they showed Rosicky’s calf and it had four stud marks with blood. So, after three leg breaks in four years, we’re already running out of “sympathy”? Our players crowded the ref and forced him to make a decision? What team doesn’t do this? An outrage? Give me a break.

– Bendtner is a given up top. He scores crucial goals and provides variety in our attack. On the left side, I would like to see Eboue start. That would help alleviate Clichy’s duties with Dani Alves. We must pay attention to that man. He is a dangerous, dangerous player.

– It’s been noted that the Nou Camp has a huge pitch, but it’s actually no bigger than the Emirates. That being said, it’s one tailor made for Barcelona and their style of play. Guardiola has already suggested that whoever keeps the ball will win. I can almost guarantee that Barcelona will keep the ball more, but actually, it’ll be who converts their chances which will be more decisive. For all of Barcelona’s devastating play, we could have equalized soon after Ibrahimovic’s first goal if Bendtner took his chance when he headed straight at Valdes.

– We have failed to keep a clean sheet away from home in the Champions League for 11 matches. That means that we may need to score two goals. That could lead to extra time. Anything could happen, but we must be the first ones to score.

– History is made when you seize an opportunity. This team has a chance to grab that opportunity by the throat. Everybody is ruling us out, and if Barcelona play the way they did in the first half of the first leg, we’ll be lucky to be in it. But could they really play much better? And could we really play much worse? That may be tempting fate, but we go into the match with confidence after staging two late shows. Whether we win a trophy this year, we’ll have to see. But I do know this much about this team, we’ve learned how to fight. That’s usually when talented players graduate to becoming champions.

– A great man once wrote that football is not predictable. Don’t ever forget those words.

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