BARCELONA v/s ARSENAL
ARSENE WENGER insists his injury-hit Arsenal side can defy the odds and dethrone champions Barcelona on their way to securing a place in the Champions League semi finals.
The Gunners have been masters of the unlikely second leg comeback in recent years having humbled Real Madrid, AC Milan and Inter Milan under Wenger’s reign.
Wenger is yet to lead his side to victory at the Camp Nou, but even though the Gunners are rank outsiders to build on their 2-2 draw from the first leg, the Frenchman believes they can cause an upset.
“I believe that we have won everywhere in Europe and that is one place we haven’t done it yet,” Wenger said.
“That is a good opportunity I think. There is no better opportunity to achieve this than tomorrow night.
“I am confident despite the injuries we have that we can do it. Of course we will need to get everybody 100 per cent of his potential tomorrow night and certainly have a great team performance.
“But this team has such mental strengths and I believe they can fight against the odds anywhere in the world and I am confident they will do it tomorrow.”
Wenger’s preparations suffered another huge blow yesterday when midfielder Alex Song pulled out of the squad with a knee injury – joining the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Andrey Arshavin, William Gallas and Robin van Persie on the sidelines.
Wenger admitted Song’s omission came as a “bad surprise” having expected the influential Cameroon international to recover from the knock sustained in the 1-0 win over Wolves on Saturday.
“It was a bad surprise this morning. He had a scan yesterday afternoon on his knee and it is inflamed cartilage,” Wenger added.
“We will have to wait and see how serious it is but he is completely out of the squad for tomorrow’s game.”
Wenger’s big dilemma now is whether to draft in 35-year-old Sol Campbell for a second high-intensity match in three days as cover.
“That will be a decision I will have to make,” he admitted. “We have to be conservative with him and see how he feels after today.”
Barcelona are not without their problems too, however. Centre back partnership of Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique are both suspended, while two-goal striker from the first leg, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, is also out with a groin strain.