Arsène Wenger

Messi and Barcelona can prove they are anything but ‘finished’

Arsene Wenger

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This is a tight one on paper. Atletico are a typically strong team in defence, extremely well organized. The ball will belong to Barcelona, and the Atlético will counter attack.

Will Barcelona be defeated on the counter attack? Or will their fluidity help them overcome Atletico’s defence? It’s a very tight game, as can be observed in La Liga, where they are very close.

It is very strange that two of their matches this season have been goalless, because normally you get a lot of goals when a counter-attacking team faces a possession team.

But they have been able to cancel each other out. Even if that happens again it will still be an engaging match.

However, it’s not my pick of the round as – playing in the same country – we see them face off several times each season anyway. You always want new match-ups.

Barca will have one major factor in their favour, even if it is too close to call domestically – the experience of some players.

We saw this against Real Madrid recently. It matters as, when the more experienced team are behind, they still keep playing as if they weren’t.

And sometimes an inexperienced team can panic a bit if it doesn’t go as planned. Barça keep believing in their play. We saw that against Real. Moreover, they have a player who can score at any time, any moment, who’s not in the same state of mind even if the other team are leading.

Lionel Messi can pull something from nothing, either an assist or a goal. He is back in form. And, even if Diego Costa does play on Tuesday, Barca have this as an advantage.

I think a lot of nonsense has been said about Barcelona, because they weren’t so dominant earlier this season, and because of their heavy defeat to Bayern in Europe last year.

But they won La Liga last season, and – after a rough patch by their standards – are back in the race to do so again.

All clubs go through difficult times – remember Barca are transitioning coaches, and had major, unforeseeable problems last term. But nowadays there seems to be a permanent stage of hysteria surrounding the big clubs, which leads to ‘definitive judgements’ being made.

But when your name is Xavi, you know how to pass the ball perfectly. People calling you ‘finished’ are irrelevant. Barca are not done, believe me.

Arsene Wenger

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