Champions League 2016 – Round of 16: Arsenal 0-2 Barcelona

Intentions were good for Arsenal and they started the game the best possible way pressing FC Barcelona to its defense and could have taken the lead in the first half. Barcelona stood firm and played much more aggressively in the second half converting one of many occasions of goals inevitably by Messi; the one who had never scored against Petr Cech. Messi then doubled with the penalty. The result is cruel for Arsenal and chances are minimal to say the least. Another dream faded away… history repeated again Arsenal cannot make it to the last 8…

Coach Arsenal Arsene Wenger comments the defeat:

“I’m disappointed because we put a lot of energy into this game. I felt that we lost at the moment that we looked more capable of winning the game, and we also lost it in a way which we could not afford to give them. It’s a bit disappointing to give them the goals that we did, especially the first goal. I feel that we were extremely guilty and have no excuses for that goal. We were disciplined defensively but we knew that if we had to keep it at 0-0, we would keep it at 0-0. They are better than us, everybody knows that, but I think we could’ve won the game tonight if we kept the discipline until the end. Once again, like against Monaco, exactly the same thing happened. We were caught in exactly the same way.

on not learning from last season’s mistakes…
Barcelona master all aspects of the game. As soon as you’re in a bad position, one or two players can punish you. We had two or three opportunities to stop the first goal which we didn’t do because I don’t think we had the right response to the situation that our players faced.

on the away goals feeling like ‘a knife in his heart’…
Of course. When your players put in the energy that they have put in tonight, it’s very difficult to take because you want the players to be rewarded. We were impatient in the build-up, we lost balls that we usually don’t and that’s not because Barcelona forced us to do it, but just because we were not precise enough in our passing.

Of course you’re frustrated when you lose the game and it’s always easy to identify the moment where you made the mistake. I feel that maybe we felt on the pitch that we could win the game and we lost our cautiousness to defend. What we knew was going to be vital for us was not to give them a counter-attack, that’s where they’re at their most dangerous.

on whether Arsenal did not play to their game plan…
The players didn’t give them a counter-attack on purpose. They want to defend it. It’s just that the first pass is not right, the first position is not right, you lose the ball when you don’t want to lose it and then suddenly you’re out of position and they take advantage of that. It’s not because the players do not want to respect the instructions, they were just caught by the pace of the game. It was an unexpected wrong pass or unexpected position of the first play”.
Coach Barcelona Luis Enrique hails his players’ performance:

“I liked the whole game and saw some things that were so good that I didn’t dare make any changes in case they spoiled it. They defended with everyone behind the ball in their own half, but we wore them down and were almost always able to cope with their pressure. That’s what allowed us to top the balance in our favour.”

People who understand football know that you need a first half like that to get a second half like that as well. Arsenal also tried to create pressure and danger, but we dealt with it well. It is important to know how to play against a team that plays it so tight at the back because they’re also very good on the counter attack, as you could see tonight.”

I wasn’t surprised to see Arsenal creating so few chances because they’ve got such a top class defence. They tried to do things through Ozil and by moving the ball quick between their lines, with runs from Giroud and Ramsey, and from Walcott in the second half. I think we did a great job out there.”

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