If Arsenal were to play their tactics right, as they did against Bayern Munich in the group stage. Then I see no reason why the Gunners cannot make it through to the UEFA Champions League quarter finals for the first time in over five years.
They cannot think for a moment that they can outplay Barcelona who are arguably the best team in the world right now alongside Bayern Munich and Leicester City… (It’s hard to convey sarcasm through text). The Spanish champions have looked dominant this season with Luis Suarez and Neymar filling the void that an injured Lionel Messi had left behind. However, the best player in the world is back and that front three is a force that no back line wants to have to try and deal with.
Those three men will prove to be the toughest task that Arsenal’s ever present backline will have to face this year. Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal have been shining lights in Arsenal’s Premier League title campaign. Meanwhile, Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker are both finally fit and playing together regularly again and is debatably the strongest centre back partnership in the league this year alongside Chris Smalling & Daley Blind, Vincent Kompany & Nicolas Otamendi and Jan Vertonghen & Toby Alderweireld.
Can they stop Messi, Neymar and Suarez? I doubt it. However, if Francis Coquelin is back and fit he will offer them much needed support. If Arsene Wenger sets up on the counter attack by looking to use the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez to his advantage then there’s no reason Arsenal cannot shock the world.
Ozil has been Arsenal’s talisman this season and if he can provide slick passes to Sanchez and Walcott as he has all season then there will be chances to be had for the Gunners.
There’s always plan B in Olivier Giroud who has hit some fine form in recent weeks. Barcelona lack that much aerial presence and Giroud could be a sure fire option in exploiting the lack of height in an otherwise solid side. Gerard Pique would be heavily relied on and I have no doubt that Giroud’s movement would cause the Spaniard problems throughout the ties.
Overall it comes down to tactics. I fear that Wenger will try to play Barcelona at their own game in the ways that they have in previous years and that could prove to be costly. However, the way they played against Bayern Munich showed that Wenger has learned not to be so stubborn when it comes to playing the traditional Arsenal way. I just feel that Barcelona have got too much in the locker, that front three will prove to be too much particularly with the support behind them from the likes of Andres Iniesta, Dani Alves and Ivan Rakitic.