The Champions League made an astonishing return on Tuesday full of nothing but surprises. It was the beginning of the knockout stages of the tournament involving four top European teams so the expectations were high. PSG alongside Barcelona, Arsenal and Bayern Munich did calculate the winners to be the usual favorites, but this time they even proved me wrong. Why I’m I so surprised with the outcome of each of the games? Two things, one signaled the inevitable change of direction Arsenal must take and the second one is how critical the situation in Barcelona is turning out after the defeat in the hands of PSG.
I remember praising Barcelona when the season began but a lot has changed. Sadly the season has gone from wonderful to a total nightmare, from injuries to misunderstandings in the locker room has stopped the team from working at their full potential. The game against PSG on Tuesday made these issues a reality. Luis Enrique has struggled to find a replacement for Xavi and Dani Alves, both key men in midfield and defense parts of the team. The lack of consistency from Sergi Roberto and Andre Gomez in those positions gave PSG a clear advantage during the game. The men led by Cavani and Marco Veratti due to the absence of Thiago Silva and Thiago Motta dominated the game from start to finish. The “MSN” attacking trio were unrecognizable since the highlights from Barcelona were the terrible defensive coordination alongside Neymar’s horrible diving. PSG in the other hand finally proved they are ready for a shot in the Champions League with goals from Draxler, Cavani and two perfect strikes from Di Maria it was a perfect night for the French team and a nightmare scenario for “Los cúles”. Im a Barcelona supporter but I must say that was a horrible game in general but I guess that’s why the Champions League is different.
When I think of Arsenal I think of players like Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires. When those players were around Arsenal was invincible, seriously they did win a Premier League undefeated so I have to give them credit even if I’m a die-hard Manchester United supporter. Then we have the recent version of Arsenal under the same manager, who since those days has finished fourth every single season and has failed to advance from the round of 16 of the UCL as well. With such record you should say he should be fired due to his inconsistency but Arsene Wegner has managed to survive in the managerial chair somehow. The club managed to sign Alexis Sanchez and Metzul Ozil with the hopes of finally breaking their bad record in Europe but Bayern Munich had other plans. I don’t know if Wegner thought Bayern would be less lethal without Guardiola or that their current irregular form would continue against Arsenal, but he sure got everything completely wrong. On Wednesday night, it only took Bayern 19 minutes to take control of the game thanks to a majestic strike from Robben outside the goal. In the second half it became obvious that Arsenal were no match for Bayern’s midfield, especially if Alexis had to do everything himself now that Ozil and the rest of the squad were not found. The German squad walked off with a 5-1 victory thanks in part by brilliant displays from Douglas Costa and Thiago Alcantara who were too much to handle for “the gunners”.
So what now for Arsenal? Well not even I know for sure but I seriously hope they finally turn to a different manager because like a good friend of mine said “ As a football fan its not right seeing (Wegner) keep failing and not getting the best out of his players”. I completely agree with him, Arsenal is a good club but they have to stop living in the past and finally accept that they must work towards building a team for future plans instead of trying to come up with copies of the team they once were. In Barcelona’s case I feel like they can put up a decent fight when they play PSG at the Camp Now as long as they manage to fix their defensive line. They also seem to be coming to a period of transition once the current season is over. There’s still a long way to go until then but if anything, the Champions League was a slap to the face for both Barça and Arsenal this past week and hopefully my next blog entry is about how at least Barcelona pulled a “Liverpool” kind of comeback.