“How are Arsenal going to stop the 3 amigos?”
That’s what much of the discussion has been focused around in the build up to tonight’s Champions League clash.
Everyone knows about the quality of Barcelona’s fierce front three. Messi, Suarez and Neymar each have the skill to outplay a team on their own.
Defenders often explain how they’re going to stop Messi, and it happens to be a total waste of time because the little magician would dribble around you in a phone booth, and if you bring a friend he’ll take care of him too.
Lining up alongside Leo is Suarez – and I think (I hope) the days of biting are long gone. The first time I saw Suarez play was at Ajax, and people made a comment that he’s sometimes lucky. Now I look at him, and what he’s done, and ask myself why I ever listened to them. His determination and perseverance are some of his greatest attributes – when you think he’s down he gets back up fighting and scoring.
All you have to do is look at the impact he had at Liverpool, an how badly they missed him when he left.. They are still looking for a replacement.
Completing the trio is Mister Samba. I call Neymar Mister because I recently enjoyed Carnival with the team and school from Santos, where he and Pelé came from.
What Pelé has done for Santos and Brazil we all know. But now it’s all about Brazil’s new poster boy.
Neymar is a nightmare to play against. Not only does he have lightening pace and great vision, but he also has crazy skills that make the world gasp. Some say he’s disrespectful to his opponents but I see it as simple as this: If you can’t handle the game you shouldn’t enter the arena, because when you cross that white line you either kill or get killed. It’s as simple as that.
The man pulling the strings and feeding the balls is Iniesta. Stopping the supply from him will also be key for Arsenal.
Arsenal have been trying to play like Barca for years. They’ve always done a great job, especially during my playing days. That suited one of their best, and the Premier League’s class act Thierry Henry, as he made the transfer to the Camp Nou.
This game will be very tactical and of course Arsenal will be the underdogs.
Arsenal should play the game as compact as they can, and use their counterattack to hurt Barca. Barca will press high and make Arsenal work when they have possession, but I believe if they can stop Barca from getting the ball back as quick as they normally want and keep hold of it, they can exploit the space behind Barca’s defensive line.
Barca are quick on the flanks but in the middle they have guys who read the game well, and that doesn’t always go together with pace so they have to be patient. If Arsenal can be patient too and use their speed effectively, they can surprise Barca.