The Duel of Magicians
The Sensational round 16 of Uefa Champions League will hit the continent’s most exciting competition this Tuesday night. there are plenty of fascinating duels to be played at this stage, more eye-catching than usual picture of play-off expectation level clearly and one particular match would be unique amongst all, Barcelona vs Arsenal. Two ultimately best attacking football sides with the most entertaining style and enormous talented individuals at their disposal, perhaps are often different in making history when it comes to European battles. Barca everlastingly would have claimed to be the most decorated football club in the history of the game for their emphatically revolutionized philosophy in modern era, while Arsenal’s remarkable identity is a traditional dualism of their most inspirational attacking heritage and famously unfaithful achievements as the most defined story of London side’s journey long enough. the game is also a brief indication to the European history between two clubs, which has Barca dominating their head-to-head impressively.
Messi’s magical performance of scoring four goals in Catalan’s 4-1 win in the second leg of 2008 quarter final at Camp Neu has knocked out Gunners, while Spanish hammered Arsenal over two legs of round 16 in 2011 season with Argentine’s marvelous show once again. so it’s their renewed meeting since those days along with many changes that made at the heart of both teams in recent years interestingly. the one notable fact; Luis Enrique’s renovated approach has transformed more dynamic feature and essential pace to Barca’s DNA of possession based style underlined his most glorious coaching trademark, that has led to develop and emergence of considerably the most enthusiastic attacking trio, ever appeared in the history; an extraordinary dimension of most gifted stars in Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, known as MSN as of now. their performance over last two seasons has distinguished a pure narrative of superiority and pure art of winning in all competitions for Barcelona to very large extent of making it almost impossible to believe in the repeat of such combination in the future of this game.
Since Pep Guardiola’s departure at the end of 2013, many critics would have called Barca’s tiki-taka a faded tactical superiority and it emerged so much pressure on the team to find a solution back in winning ways. the arrival of Luis Enrique during most intense time not only rejuvenated their struggling circumstances to regain a needed unity and belief, but further adapted a very sufficient and inspirational tactical strategy with more balance and deft to compete and win trophies rapidly. his terrific tactical awareness and intelligent communicative methods with players and in the dressing room provided an essential psychological guideline the team seemed to be shifted away in the start of 2013-14 season, due to board member’s behind the scene controversial decisions, the rising instablity within squad to perform on the consistent basis alon with their slugish response to redefine a vital motivation, the missing factore, which they carried in the past. the main important reason above all was for increased concern of the club’s symbolic identity becoming virtually collaps during their tough transition to move on from role of veterans and placing a trust in youth production instead. but Luis Enrique’s ambitious efforts had resolved all of those problems through his storng man-management and incredible leadership on and off the pitch to re-build team spririt, pivotal confidence and inserting an adaptive strategy to lead his team on the road to glory. his team selection suggested one of his remarkable features when he signed up Ivan Rakitic from Sevilla as a world class central midfielder to replace retired Xavi, enhancing the shape of midfield in damand of replicating their possession, while addition of promising Sergi Robert with ability to play on the flanks as a full back and going forward allowed their backline to be in more comfort zone for the likes of Dani Alvez and Gerard Pique to some extent. but his revolution dedicates to establishment of Luis Suarez and Neymar to become world’s best strikers and leading Barca to the La Liga and Uefa Champions league 2015 winning. the impact and efficency of these two players developed an astonishing cohesion with Messi as Argentine’s freedom and dazzling moves has destroyed opponents far easier than before.
Three South American magicians have spark wonderful flash of creativity, fieresome pace and pure executionto end product of Barca’s fluid passing movements and it is nearly impossible to stop them. the total of more than 100 goals between the trio is the signficant evidence of this revolutionized scenario. on the other side, Arsenal’s passage through this round came from their complicated and spantenous group stage journey. they dissapointedly lost the opener at home to Olympiacos, whiel were defeated away to Dynamo Zagreb on matchday two with very slim hope of staying alive in their group. their enthustiastic performance at home has seen them cruised into an amazing 2-0 win against Bayern at home on the matchday three, interestingly repeating same miracle to keep their dream alive in mission impossible task once against Bayern, reminding how they had almost overturned 3-1 home defeat play-off scenario in 2013 when pulled out a shocking 2-0 win at Alianz Arena in the second lege, but were eliminated anyway, would describe Arsenal characteristic itself and how dangerous they can be. Arsen Wenger men were demolished by their German opponent 5-1 when visited them in the second leg, but eventually found the pathway to win the second spot in courtesy of Bayern’s whipping out both Dynamo Zagreb and Olympiacos, which left Gunners to register a comfortable 3-0 win away at Olympiacos on the matchday four before wrapping up their qualification with inspirational performance at home, winning 2-0 against Dynamo with a huge improvement and more confident performance. so this battle embraces some traditional memories, while deeply signaling new elements of power balance in the first lege at Emirate Stadium on the Feb 23nd . by looking at both side’s form this season and considering their purest technical characteristics, relying on efficency of individuals and tactical sustainablity in general, we have to give this one to Barca like previous meetings; still there will be plenty of intriguing patterns to shift the momentum of strategic winner over course of two legs with higher possiblity of polished new sequences becoming the decisive factors in most ideal imagination.
Luis Enrique deployed a flexible and solid formation of playing with three versatil midfielders to dictate the passing game, while winning spaces through timely pressing with enough mobility, that means Rakitic, Sergio Busquets and the third player, the more attacker in either Sergi Robert, Mounir or Andres Iniesta will aim to coordinate fine position playing with their skills and vision from deep in midfield or when possessing the ball in Arsenal comfort zone and igniting fluid short breaking through passess for MSN to interchange with devestating pace, but three men in midfield must provide more energetic run to drop and cover open gaps against Arsenal creative players like Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Chamberlain if played at wings when joining strikers. usually when Barca switches to attack in transition, few touches simply are enough to be played by two central holding players to send their attackers over pressing line to storm forward; this happens relatively for ability of midfield to hold on and linking several short and neat passess to open runs with eye to win spaces in going forward, while constantly moving to interchange break-through balls and generating positions to penetrate high up the pitch through dazzling dribbling skills of Messi, Neymar and Suarez. another reason is the fact when backline press and initiate to midfield, they mostly staying behind the line to mark open gaps instead of going forward, because both Rakitic and Busquets aggregate between the line to monitor passess and winning spaces to help defense staying deeper. even when Alvez and Adriano as full backs going forward quickly get involved with quick touches on the flanks and are assured of one or two central holding drifting out to cover them. therefore; two or three players usually join MSN from behind and mostly work to combine passess for the trio to destroy defences with their magic.
The willingness to share flanks when opening passess in transition allow wide players to combine and overlap more effectively with Suarez and Neymar as creative wingers to interchange with higher pace, a feature that seem to be more applicable under Luis Enrique, rather than insisting on most often overplaying and overpassing tendency that would have foreced deeper players struggling to dictate the pace, dated back under Guardiola and Gurdi Rura later on. so playing with two static central holding or three mobil mids in more free dimension, enhanced Barca’s flexible but more balanced formation with flashy wide weapons and timely use of pace. howeve; their backline just like in the past is still volnurable to high tempo plays of opponent, whom developed based on the fluid wingers to spark with speed and love to ignite dynamic play across the flanks to penetrate with crafty combination behind Barca’s defense, Pique’s volunerablity and slow pace when facing those dynamic plays have been and will be exposed in such occassions, even his central partnership with Thomas Vermaelen will prove liablity against precisely high tempo play as French man tends to initiate out of back, but slow enough to losing spaces so leaving full backs with less protection or being cracked from those wide areas. with risk of Arsen Wenger packing midfield with three men to fight winning spaces when Barca controls the ball and playing off the ball to link passess forward when Ozil orchestrate movements, then Alexis Sanchez timely run with his penetrative skills and energetic change of pace on the right, will spark more chance for Gunners to expose Barca’s backline, and with further stretching the gaps behind Barca’s midfield, even Sanchez would drift inside to interchange with another speedy winger such as Chamberlain to become striker and exploit spaces and provide finishing.
It looks like Arsenal will benefit to set up three mids in front of defense to press and win spaces with reliance on Ozil’s vision and creativity to ignite central attacking passes when Chilian combining with him ambitiously from the wing and break Barca. if they provide timely run and interchange sharply as they should, Arsenal has a good rhythm to spark movements with technical players at their disposal, only they migh have to comprised one extra midfielder to stay deeper and reduced a risk of having Barca dominating their one touch football. the sustainablity of Luise Enrique’s formation has symbolized Catalons as the most adaptive and gifted side that ever existed and in contrast, Arsenal’s fluid and creative style as much it defined superior to all their opponent, but historically was dealth many blows that caused as the result of indiscipline and inconsistency. there is a huge possiblity for London Side to make some crucial damages to defending champions with presence of Ozil and Sanchez as their winning weapons and whome face Barca for the first time and since those inferior duels, also Gunners boosted more entertaining football and outstanding legacy to change the history with Wenger far-reaching approach of spending in transfer market to sign world class players, but the reality check and extraordinary quality at Barca’s disposal, relying on front three gifted individuals are alone convincing enough to see Barcelona cruising through the next round as part of their quest to defend their title and to keep their winning record against Arsenal clean. so much at the stake to separate two sides with minor hopes of details and miracle for the surprising outcome.