UEFA Champions League: Arsenal 6-0 Ludogorets, FC Barcelona 4-0 Manchester City

Arsenal has been playing very well lately and the team breathes confidence right now. A win in Bulgaria for the next Champions League match will ensure a spot to the knock-out round. As for the firs place of the group, it seems that all will be decided when PSG will come to Arsenal for the last fixture of the group stage.  Mesut Ozil scored a hat-trick as Arsenal went on a rout in a comfortable win. Coach Wenger comments on the momentum built by his team:

“In the first half it looked like a difficult game because they were dangerous going forward. They had good technique in short spaces, they are quick on the counter-attack and it was not easy. We took complete control of the game in the second half and we could’ve score more because they had given a lot in the first half. They suffered a little bit physically in the second half.

on breaking down Ludogorets…
We scored early and maybe we eased off a bit too early. It’s funny because the more goals we scored, the better we defended. In the first half it’s true that we were sometimes in danger with runs coming from deep. The strikers came into midfield, flooded the midfield and got them out of pressure. Then we were in trouble twice. We’d like to give credit to Ospina who saved us twice with very important saves.

on the reason for scoring so freely…
The confidence is high, we have a good balance at the moment in the team and maybe it’s because we’ve been making more of our chances. The final ball is better. Is that because our finishing is better? It’s difficult to analyze at the moment, but what is for sure is that we score more goals. We score lots of goals. That’s what our game is about. We have a risky game and therefore it’s important that we take our chances.”

on not buckling under pressure…
In this game, a lot is linked with confidence as well and I feel that because we’re winning game after game, the confidence is high. Maybe when we get into these dodgy periods, there’s less psychological damage. What you want is to get them out as well.

On the opposite side, Manchester City was largely dominated by Barcelona as it has been the case for the past meetings. For Guardiola’s return as head coach of the Citizens, Messi sent a message to his former coach by scoring a hat-trick and destroyed any hopes Man City had to come back to England with a better result. Unfortunately for the Citizens, Goalkeeper Claudio Bravo made a terrible mistake and got sent off immediately leaving his team to 10 men whereas they were playing good and close to draw level against mighty Barcelona.

Coach MCFC, Guardiola reacts on the defeat:

“It is hard to play Barca, but until we went down to ten players, it was open and we were competing against a team with a big personality. The first goal was due to an unfortunate slip and then for 10 minutes we were a little bit confused, but we were there; we were in the game. We were pressing, we had the possession and we made the chances but we didn’t take them and you have to do that to win the game – especially against this team.

But after the red card, it was over. Every game since Celtic has been the same – we have had own goals, missed penalties and we need to change the way things have been going. We created enough chances and arrived at the by-line many times – enough chances to score one or two goals. We know Barca and if you give their strikers an opportunity, they punish you.”

Guardiola reflects on the mistake made by Bravo:

“Football is a game of mistakes; he knows what he did, but until the last day of my career as a coach, I will try to play from our goalkeeper.

There are moments you have to kick the ball out, but he tried to play it and sometimes it happens. He has a lot of experience and he’s one of best goalkeepers of the last 10 years. I don’t have any doubts about him. He is disappointed but he will learn from that.”