We end up getting the one team I, and many other Gooners, wanted to avoid. Not only us Gooners but perhaps the rest of Europe as well!
The complete draw looks like this,
Lyon v Bordeaux
Bayern Munich v Manchester United
Arsenal v Barcelona
Inter Milan v CSKA Moscow
Bayern Munich or Manchester United v Lyon or Bordeaux
Inter Milan or CSKA Moscow v Arsenal or Barcelona
The worst aspect of this draw is that United have a free run to the final. I’d love to swap places with them after this draw and I doubt if any of the Mancs supporters would take it. While Bayern and the French sides can be good on their day, I can’t see them getting past a top English club over two legs.
On our side of the draw, apart from the obvious challenge with Barca, there is potentially tricky semi-final with the Dark Lord who will surely get past the Russians. Still, unless luck and referees have a serious impact, I’d expect the winner of Arsenal-Barcelona to make it to the finals.
One big problem with this draw is that apart from our game with the holders, there isn’t any room for an upset. The French teams are, frankly, irrelevant. One of them will reach the semi-finals and it will be a symbolic occurrence more than anything. I’m not trying to be dismissive or anything but just matter of fact.
Bayern defence will not be able to handle Rooney and CSKA will not have the tactical nous to handle the manager who must not be named. I’ll be really surprised if United don’t reach the Final and Inter don’t make it to the Semis.
The way the draw has worked out, we have phenomenal challenges ahead in the quest for European glory. Firstly, we have to face the team which plays, arguably, the best football in the world and has, in my opinion, the best player in the world. If we overcome this, we have to play the best tactical manager in the world who plays the worst possible football or the best anti-football, whichever way you prefer. Once we get through him, we have to face our nemesis and arch-rivals who have a recent psychological logical hold over us.
In short, if we win the Champions League this year, we will achieve, what can be considered, the most comprehensive win in the history of the competition. Is it achievable? Well, we’d need some real luck with injuries and we’ll need all our players at the top of their game.
I feel if we can get past Barca, we can make it to the finals. Then it boils down to who plays better on the day. Defeating Barca over two legs will in itself be an achievement of the highest order. Can our defence hold firm and will our strikers be clinical enough? Two simple questions that could define careers.
I don’t want to dwell on this too much so I’ll leave you with this tidbit. After the second leg at the Camp Nou, Arsenal have an away trip for the North London Derby at the weekend and Barcelona have an away trip for El Grand Classico at the Bernabeu. This could be the week that defines the season for both teams. It’s all in the script, eh!