If Barcelona thought the road to Allianz Arena was any easy, then shock on them, Di Matteo and his group were thinking otherwise. A day after fellow Spanish side fell by a similar goal difference in Germany; Pep was once again to be denied an away victory against an English side on his third match against three different teams in less than a year in London.
While Real Madrid were able to get an away goal at the Allianz Arena, Messi and Co were not able to get through the properly constructed blue wall. In both occasions, Real and Barcelona faced very good goalkeepers in the likes of Manuel Neuer and Peter Cech respectively. While Valdes was happy to just concede one, his opposite number made spectacular saves to deny Barcelona several goals and with the help of his back line, Fabregas had cut short his celebration as Ashley came to Cech’s rescue. Casillas has been leaking goals in recent time and even though still regarded as the best, Ribery and Gomez once again exposed him. Neuer was finally beaten by an Özil tap in meanwhile taking nothing awya from him, he for sure made some spectacular saves to lead his side to victory.
So why am I comparing these statistics?
Yes, the classico is right here, football’s greatest rivalry is back at its best and even though on the other hand many football lovers think Arsenal vs Chelsea is less exciting, the following few paragraphs give an insight and a brief preview on the matches ahead.
Barcelona vs Real Madrid
Phewx!!! Writing about this is hard, predicting is even harder and even hardest of all is having to recollect the last time these two teams met in the League at Camp Nou , a serious win to Barcelona and no Madrid fan wants a mention of this here again. How fast times change, I must say. From the days when Barcelona could manage a five nil win against mighty Real to hand Mourinho his heaviest defeat to a day when Mourinho could go back to Camp Nou sitting pretty at the top of La-Liga, four points clear of Barcelona and even more painfully, not having to worry about a loss here but how to win the other six remaining matches.
In fairness to both teams (I know you want to say Barcelona), the tie had to be moved from Sunday 22nd to Saturday 21st since Barcelona face Chelsea on Tuesday 24th and a 22nd fixture could mean Barcelona play two matches in less than 48 hours.
The highlight of this game has forever been Messi and Cristiano coming head to head. Cristiano has always been criticized for flopping when playing in a big match like this one whereas Messi has always risen to the occasion not once, not twice, but severally. Following the midweek’s Champions League matches, I’m highly tempted to soil Messi’s name with the same mud Cristiano’s name has been subjected to. He(Messi) too never caused much of damage to the Chelsea defence and just to make them evenly poised for this match, Cristiano too had a torrid time at the Arena. Does this match serve as a redemption stage for both? I though dont want to be dragged into the Barca Real war, my head tends to think Messi will once again walk with all the plaudits, my heart on the other hand wants Cristiano to shine but as always, my head tends to win, can’t remember the last time it lost.
A win for Barcelona would thus mean they stay at position two but a point shy of Real Madrid. A Madrid win means they widen the gap further to seven points and technically the title would be theirs to loose. For the Champions League confidence level’s boost, a Barcelona win would mean Chelsea visit a highly motivated side while a win for Madrid means Bayern play a match of their lives as Mourinho would want to continue with his excellent home record in the Champions League this season. (Ten wins out of eleven this season at home in the Champions League alone)
Arsenal vs Chelsea
For no fear of contradiction, I’m tempted to boldly say Chelsea have so far had a better season than Arsenal. Having booked a place in the F.A Cup final and still gunning for a place in the Champions League final, Chelsea have proved to the world that what Wenger can do, they can slightly do better. Not a contender for the League title, Chelsea is high flying at the moment. With a game in hand, they are still pushing for fourth place even though their league form doesn’t seem to suggest their intentions. Arsenal currently lie in third spot, a game more and seven points better than Chelsea, they’ll be seeking to walk away from the Wigan blues and move on from where they left when Manchester City visited.
The last time these two teams met, a Van Persie hatrick amongst other goals completed a shock 3-5 away win for the gunners at Stamford Bridge. At the Emirates, Arsenal has this season been brilliant save for a few lacklustre performances that saw them loose to Wigan and Manchester United just to mention….
Wenger will hope Arteta’s absence has no serious effect on the team and even though Chelsea will be keeping a close eye on their Barcelona clash, expect a strong line up for this tie.
Drogba seems to be rolling back the years in style and even though RvP is not scoring like he used to a few weeks ago, expect a goal or two from him. Hoping the linesman will be awake for this 90 minutes, Mata should get a goal or assist one while the Verminator, the Ox or the ‘speed master’ Walcott should have a goal between them should RvP’s well run dry again. Ivanovic remains suspended while Koscielny returns after missing the wolves and Wigan ties and should partner Vermelen at the back. Interesting how the Chelsea attack would be lined up, besides Di Matteo, rotates the squad quite often.
A loss for Chelsea would mean Champions League football might not be coming to the bridge next season unless they go on and win the trophy, on the other hand an Arsenal win should comfortably see them through the remaining matches and ensure a third place finish if not second. Chelsea would be buoyed by a win here going into their Champions League tie and hoping Barcelona loose, would further want to add misery to Catalonia by beating winning at Camp Nou.
So just a few days determines the seasons of Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid. Even though I never mentioned Bayern Munich who seemingly have surrendered the Bundesliga title to Borrusia Dortmund, a final played on home soil without them would be a bitter pill to swallow. For all football fans, the stage is well set for drama, rivalry, tackles, goals, emotions and above all football at its best. Take your best seat, iron your jerseys and take the front row, for football is right here…..