And we continue with the second leg of the Champions League today with FC Internazionale taking on CSKA Moscow and FC Arsenal going head to head with FC Barcelona, the more important match of the two. Inter have a 1 - 0 lead on aggregate and seek to move into the semi-finals with Samuel Eto'o, Wesley Sneijder, and Julio Cesar leading the way. This match isn't going to be too hard to choose as I pick a 2 - 0 victory to Inter, moving on in the Tournament to face the winner of the bigger match today. Barcelona, the reigning champions of both the Champions League and La Liga, take on Arsenal, their creative counterpart in the English Premier.
In the first leg, Barcelona dominated Arsenal for the first hour, controlling the ball and retaining possession for a majority of the first and second half. They were up 2 - 0 away. In London. In the Emirates. Gunner fans were starting to doubt the result and were looking to the loss already. Then, manager Arsene Wenger made quite the substitution in the 67th minute.
English Winger Theo Walcott was subbed on for Bacary Sagna and immediately made an impact. His amazing pace quickly was shown, flying by left back Maxwell and not allowing him to have the ball. It took two minutes to see his impact and scored, in the 69th minute. His pace provided a dynamic aspect of Arsenal's came and they took advantage of it, tacking on one more goal and equalizing heading to Camp Nou, 2 - 2.
This leg is crucial for both teams. Arsenal are looking to win a trophy, as it has been 5 years since they're last title in '04. Barcelona are looking to repeat, winning last year against Manchester United in the Final. However, both teams are going to be without key players. Arsenal are going to be without captain Cesc Fabregas, playmaker Andrei Arshavin, and their main Centre Back William Gallas. Barcelona have captain Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique, both their star Centre Backs, on suspension. They also have Andres Iniesta hurt with a hamstring injury. Even with a big portion of the stars out, this will be an amazing game.
For Arsenal, it will be a pride game. They have dealt a big part of the futbol season dealing with injuries, most notably Welsh centre midfielder Aaron Ramsey having his leg broken in a game against Stoke City and Dutch forward Robin Van Persie having ankle ligaments torn in a friendly against Italy. The Gunners are looking to revive their fan base and the team themselves with a stunning win in the Nou. For Barcelona, it's about retaining their club stature in the futbol world. Yes they won 6, count them, 6 trophies last year, but one year can always damage a team. Look at Portsmouth in the Premier League. Finished top half of the table last year, relegated to the Coca Cola Championship the next.
The game is going to be a battle of dynamic passing and creativity. Just as the first leg was full of beautiful dribbling and fast paced passes, this will be nothing but the same. Arsenal and Barcelona will look to retain possession and counter attack when they don't have the ball. It will be a game one won't forget.
My prediction: Arsenal takes it in a close stunner, 2 - 1. Final goal coming from Nicklaas Bendtner........yeah I'm calling it.