For the second time in as many seasons, Arsenal go into the Nou Camp for the second leg of a Champions League knockout clash with no one really giving Arsene Wenger’s side much of a chance.
What stands before them is a side that oozes class and pretty much defines what the beautiful game is supposed to be about, Arsenal like the group of young apprentices frantically champing at the bit to show their masters exactly how talented they are.
Much like past seasons, it’s more than likely going to come down to who isn’t completely crocked in the away side’s team.
Since the first leg, Ryan Shawcross has, like many times in the past, decimated certain members of the Arsenal side in a recent encounter. It has left Wenger with no Theo Walcott or Alex Song, and massive question marks left over the fitness of striker Robin van Persie and captain Cesc Fabregas.
In terms of whether the bookies have seen any surges in interest for the visitors, William Hill spokesperson Graeme Sharpe was fairly unanimous, saying: “There has not been a huge surge of support but I suspect many are waiting for late team news.”
Their Iberian opponents are no shoe-in for the victory though and with their first choice centre back pairing missing it might be down to Leo Messi and co to outscore Arsenal and turn the game into some kind of NBA tribute.
It’s also widely thought that the winner of this tie could easily be the side lifting the BIG cup come May at Wembley, although yet again it’s hard to believe that Arsenal really has the bottle required to go all the way
Sharpe commented, “Well, Barca have been favorites since the tournament began, so obviously they are hotly fancied. If the Gunners beat them they will not automatically take over as favorites.”
All that’s left to speculate is whether Wenger has any tricks inside the sleeping bag he has taken to using as a “coat” over the past few weeks.
Going to stick my neck out here and say that as long as Van Persie and Fabregas are completely fit and play for the entire game it will be too much for the makeshift defence that Barca fields and the Londoners may well make it to the semis.
Those two players are still a big if to play though and if they don’t it could be another embarrassing night in Spain for Wenger and his charges.