Alot of us have played championship manager, infact if you haven't played championship manager then your sad for not spending some part of your life stuck infront of your computer not knowing where the time has gone and not caring about anything else apart from who your going to buy in the summer.
Oh the days of the Amiga 500 were so
Even those who haven't played CM, still think they know more than their manager.
Basically I want to share with you my championship manager style thoughts on how I feel the game can be won and lost by both sides in the Champions League final on May 17th. But obviously this is just the average Arsenal's supporter’s view. I don't have the tactical awareness of the super intelligent David Pleat. Maybe one day I can. I should start off by pronouncing as many players names wrong as possible, I can't express how angry that makes me feel. Anyway, I digress.
This would probably be most fans choice of final after the semi final draw. Two teams who base their game on quick passing and interchange. Two teams who don't like hitting high balls to a clumsy, overpriced, diving cheat. Sorry I don't quite know where that came from.
Both teams have an inspirational magician who they look for to produce that one bit of quality that can change the game. But unfortunately for us, Pascal Cygan is still injured.
Jokes aside, for Arsenal to win the most important game in their history then they will have to stop Ronaldinho from dictating the match. Barcelona without Ronnie are a very good side with him the are an exceptional side. That’s the difference.
As we know, Ronaldinho starts wide left and drifts into a central position where he can play one-twos and split the defence open with his Bergkamp like vision and passes. Not only this, he has fantastic dribbling ability and will beat 2 or 3 players for fun, this opens the game up for the likes of Eto'o and Guily/Messi to find space.
Eboue, Hleb, Gilberto and our two center backs will be vital in stopping him from playing. As he will be in their areas of the pitch many times during the 90+ minutes.
Ac Milan done a fantastic job in the first leg, pressing him and overall he was nowhere near his best. But as we all saw. A couple of seconds of play and bang he can play sick passes like the one that Guily slammed in which effectively won the tie for the Spanish giants. Barca have more goal threat than us and the main source will come from African player of the year Samuel Eto'o. Eto'o is very direct and will work the channels on both flanks creating space for the other attackers to run into his central area. When Eto'o is in range of Lehmann's goal he will shoot no matter where his team mates are. So Thierry, think about that. It will be important that Kolo Toure gets blocks in when Eto'o is ready to pull the trigger.
The third attacker for them is probably not decided as yet as Barcelona are sweating on the fitness of young magician Lionel Messi. But the 18 year old hasn't played since picking up an injury against Chelsea. Guily is a different player to Messi and gives Barca extra pace and balance on the right hand side as he is right footed. Guily makes the sort of diagonal runs that Ljungberg used to make in 2002. Its highly unlikely that we are going to revert to 442 in this game as the 451 has served us so well in Europe so far this season. My one concern is that we will not be able to out number their midfield the way we did to Real Madrid and Juventus. Barca have a very flexible 433 which can switch into 451 which I’m sure they will do
One of Barcelona's strengths may also be their weakness. Juliano Belletti and former Arsenal man Giovanni van Bronckhorst are likely to be the fullbacks. Both players are attacking players who look to support the attack as often as they can. If we can defend as we have done in the last ten champions league matches then I'm sure we can expose the gaps left. Ronaldinho is not one to track back and 'Gio' will have to handle the speedy Eboue and the tricky Hleb. I remember when Van Bronkhorst depuitised for Ashley Cole for a few games during his short Arsenal spell and he was terrible defensively. And I hope that Arsene tells the lads to exploit it.
In my opinion the midfield battle will be crucial if Arsenal are to overcome Barcelona. Xavi, Deco, Edmilson, Iniesta etc are very good players at keeping possession. There are not many teams in world football who can keep the ball better than us and Barca on form probably are. The midfield 5 for us will have to pressure the Barca players and not allow them to pick their passes and will need to be able to keep the ball and not give it away *ahem* Gilberto *ahem* although I can't criticise him right now, he has been at his best.
I am extremely nervous as well as overly excited about this mouth watering match. Would Barca beat us over two legs? Maybe, perhaps. A one off game? who knows. If Arsenal can express themselves and attack Barcelona like we did to Juventus then I am confident. Hopefully we will be more relaxed thanks to our bottle job neighbours Tottenham Hotspurs.
Whatever happens we can be proud our this young side who will no doubt only improve and get better, good luck Gunners, bring that cup home.