Barcelona sent Arsenal crashing out of the Champions League for the second straight year as a 3-1 win in the second leg gave the aggregate victory to the Blaugrana 4-3. Arsenal came into the Nou Camp with a 2-1 aggregate lead, but was once again denied by Barcelona. The game was just as one-sided as the statistics displayed, as Arsenal showed no life what-so-ever. The Gunners couldn’t create any kind of build-up to their attack. They could barely string up three consecutive passes. The Arsenal attack was completely out sync. Barcelona did a great job of pressuring their opposition, forcing a lot of errors. Offensively, Barcelona was brilliant. They bullied Arsenal around from start to finish. The Blaugrana moved the ball at will against the Gunners, dominating possession 76%-24%. It was equivalent to watching the varsity team beat up on the junior varsity. What’s even worse? Arsenal had zero shots on goal. Yes. Zero! Guess how many shots Barca had? Only 20 with 12 on target. It was as if they were having shooting practice. The only goal Arsenal was able to salvage was an own-goal from Busquets. Barcelona basically scored every goal of the night. They sent waves and waves of attacks until Arsenal finally broke down.
In stoppage time of the first-half, captain Cesc Fabregas made an uncharacteristic error by giving the ball away right outside his penalty-box with an unecessary back-heel. It was picked-off by Iniesta as he weaved his way through three Arsenal defenders. He then delivered a beautiful chip to Messi, who finished it with brilliance. One simple mistake and it was one-nil. To see a mistake like that from a top-class midfielder like Fab was very surprising. Arsenal was able to get one back in the second-half from an own-goal from Busquets off a corner, but it was still all Barcelona. Things got even worse in the 56th min. as Van Persie, having been booked in the first-half, received his second yellow for a shot on goal after the referee blown the whistle for offside. Van Persie claimed he couldn’t hear the whistle; and he does have a case with the Nou Camp hosting 95,000 screaming fans. This was an awful call by the referee as it changed the whole dynamic of the game. With Van Persie being sent off, it got even tougher for the Gunners. Barcelona passed their way through the Arsenal midfield with ease, eventually getting more goals from Messi and Xavi.
It was a very disappointing showing from Arsenal as I was expecting much more from this team. They were out-classed in every aspect of the game. The discrepancy of talent was easily visible. Barcelona was definably the better side. I just hate that fact that the Gunners weren’t able to play up to their potential because I believe they are much better than what the statistics depicted. Arsenal has been trophy-less since 2005, and the drought could be extending unless they make something happen in the FA Cup or EPL race.
Final: Barcelona 3-1 Arsenal
Aggregate: Barcelona 4-3 Arsenal
Man of the Match: Iniesta
Photos courtesy of ESPNsoccernet.