By Walter Broeckx
Arsenal with some unexpected people in the starting line up. Flamini wasn’t really expected in the place of Coquelin and with Elneny as his partner this also wasn’t what one might expect. Per on the bench for Koscielny also not expected but as Wenger talked about speed in defence the choice for the two fastest defenders seems reasonable.
Danny Welbeck up front also was not taht surprising as he also is faster than Giroud. But the big surprise was the inclusion of Alex Iwobi in the team. A real first starting place in the CL.
Arsenal starting team: Ospina, Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Elneny, Iwobi, Ozil, Alexis, Welbeck
Near the Barcelona beach: Macey, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Coquelin, Walcott, Campbell, Giroud
Arsenal with most of the ball in the opening minutes and dominating the play.
The assistant then waiting what looked like minutes to call Suarez offside when he really was meters offside but in the end he raised his flag. Özil stealing the ball and going for the shot from outside the penalty area but it was not on target. Barcelona now playing counter attack football at times but not very precise. Ter Stegen almost missing a back pass but he can recover in time. Elneny with a shot from distance but again wide of the Barcelona goal. 0-0 after 15 minutes and with a good Arsenal performance so far.
A long ball to Messi who is suddenly one on one with Ospina but what a save from the Arsenal goalkeeper! Even Messi congratulates Ospina. An amazing reflex from Ospina. But it was only a matter of time as Barcelona won the ball at the half way line, some suspicion of offside in the build up but no clear replay, the ball to Neymar and he beat Ospina with a low shot on the ground. 1-0 to Barcelona after 18 minutes.
Barcelona now being the better team but not creating new chances. Oh, nice my stream goes down now… Sorry missed a few minutes now. Elneny heading the ball away to prevent danger from Barcelona after a corner. Neymar with a low shot but good stop from Ospina. Still 1-0 for Barcelona after half an hour.
Flamini getting a yellow card for barging in the back of Iniesta. If that would havve been Özil in the PL the refs would have let play continue. Gabriel kicking a ball in corner before Messi can become dangerous. Iwobi being brought down in the penalty area but no foul is the verdict of the ref. I hope they show a replay of that. It didn’t look a foul to me just getting his feet mixed, at least I couldn’t see a contact from the defender on my stream. Gabriel goes in the book for protesting against the ref. Stupid yellow card. Okay a new replay now shows contact from the Barcelona defender. Oh well did we expect to get a penalty at Nou Camp??? Really, you did???? Penalty and a red card as he was the last defender? Really?? Iwobi with a shooting chance after a cross from Bellerin but his left footed shot goes well over.
Özil with a nice dribble, a cross but no Arsenal player at the end of his cross and Barcelona can block the shot from Alexis in the end. A backpass from Messi is picked up by the goalkeeper…. oh well this is Nou Camp. Surely Messi as the God he is only plays deliberate balls even when doing a sliding so that is a deliberate backpass. It’s also Nou Camp. Another cross from Bellerin and a header from Alexis but just wide. A one two between Welbeck and Iwobi but Welbeck just can’t wrap his foot around the ball and the shot goes wide. Another good Arsenal attack but a defender just beats Alexis. Just before half time Flamini is taken off and Coquelin enters the field. Arsenal that had played the ball out to make the substitution gets it back but not really with a lot of appetite. At half time the score is 1-0 for Barcelona and I might be biased but Arsenal surely had a lot of the game and looked very dangerous in the whole first half.
Arsenal pushing Barcelona back in the opening minutes of the second half. A shot from Iwobi is deflected in to a corner. Alexis goes in the book for bringing Neymar down. Arsenal win the ball back in midfield. Koscielny to Alexis who played on the right now who crosses it to Elneny who curls his shot in the top corner. GOAL for Arsenal!! 1-1 after 51 minutes. Well deserved! A really nice goal.
Messi with a shooting chance but again a good save from Ospina who went down quickly on the shot. Barcelona
now going more forward again. Ospina with quick release after he picked up the ball to Welbeck who shoots but his shot is stopped at the last second by a defender… oh that should have been a goal to Arsenal. Messi shoots wide from outside the penalty area. Both teams having the same number of shots up to now. Alexis almost with a chance but a defender cann block his effort after a good pass from Iwobi. And then the difference between Arsenal and Barcelona painfully made clear… one cross to Suarez and he volleys it in the top corner. 2-1 to Barcelona after 64 minutes. They just finish almost everything that comes their way.
Another example Welbeck with a shot from his left foot… hits the crossbar.. and goes over. Alexis tries to take on a defender when a pass might have been a better option and another possible chance goes begging. Some good blockwork from Elney, Kos and Gabriel to prevent Messi finding a little bit of space in the penalty area.
Giroud and Walcott come on in the place of Welbeck and Iwobi for Arsenal after 72 minutes. Corner to Arsenal and the ball ends up in front of the feet of Walcott but his shot is blocked. Arda goes in the book for bringing Monreal down a few times to prevent Arsenal making a quick attack. Alexis with the free kick, a great save from the keeper, the rebound to Giroud and again the keeper saves… and then the next rebound is saved from the goal line. The difference about taking the chances once again made clear…
Barcelona now in counter modus and Arsenal pressing forward. The referees making sure that Arsenal cannot get some attacks going by inventing some fouls… leading to Giroud getting booked from anger. Walcott one on one with the keeper but the angle favoured the keeper. Arsenal take too many risks and lose the ball close to the own penalty area and Messi can profit to score the 3-1 in the 88th minute. Taking your chances….
Walcott with a run, a pass to Alexis but his shot if blocked in to a corner by a defender. Again there was more in to this attack.
Arsenal played a great match but the difference between the 3 teams was in the quality of their forwards. They scored when they got the chance and we once again wasted the chances. If we take the quality of this match in to the PL we should be fine but then we have to step up our finishing.
Barcelona 13 shots in total, Arsenal 12… this match was much more even than the final score shows. These stats were on the Uefa website at the end of the match.