The second leg fixtures in the European Champions League, has contained a spectacular number of upsets. None as significant as Roma’s triumph over Barcelona, despite heading into the match with 4-1 aggregate scoreline against them… Sound familiar?
The last four teams in the semi final stage of the competition include usual suspects Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. The other two are Liverpool and Roma despite having English Premier League runaway table toppers and prospective title holders Manchester City as well as Spanish La Liga’s table toppers and also prospective title holders Barcelona as opposition respectively.
Logically speaking, there’s no way the latter part of the above paragraph is true but hey!… You best believe it.
Not only did both teams overcome the odds to achieve progression but they showed their respective oppositions pure class with their display and discipline.
Truth be told, Real Madrid are very fortunate to be on that list as it required
Okay, Ronaldo didn’t send Gigi to the stands obviously as Michael Oliver had that covered by issuing the goalkeeper a straight red card for his dissent about the penalty decision.
Not sure any normal person in Gigi Buffon’s shoes would act any differently per se but as proffesionals… (Cough*cough), a certain level of professionalism is demanded and his outbursts certainly fell below that radar of acceptable behavior on the pitch.
Off the pitch, Gigi still had a load of opinions to offload and he didn’t seem to hold back much as his online presence obviously shows.
Here’s an extract;
“Clearly you cannot have a heart in your chest, but a garbage bin. On top of that, if you don’t have the character to walk on a pitch like this in a stadium like this, you can sit in the stands with your wife, your kids, drinking your Sprite and eating crisps. You cannot ruin the dreams of a team. I could’ve told the referee anything at that moment, but he had to understand the degree of the disaster he was creating. If you can’t handle the pressure and have the courage to make a decision, then you should just sit in the stands and eat your crisps.“
He can be rest assured that the powers that be in European football are already gathering what they need to bamboozle him with fines and detterents. Talk about insult upon injury.
Moving on, our very own Wojciech Szczensy steps up and oh well… Real Madrid progressed in Juventus’s stead.
Thinking on the part referee Michael Oliver played in the saga, only one thought hovers around my mind… “English Efficiency perhaps”?
First you award a controversial penalty or at best a soft penalty in the extra time of such a fixture with the stakes clearly reliant on who scores the next goal and then you send off the most trusted hands for the opposition who is suppose to give them a fighting chance…
Anyway, that’s English refereeing for you at its best. Makes you wonder if someone secured his/her bet at half time… Lol!
Moving on, the Arsenal game could not have come at a better time to be honest as it seems as though, the only thing we have in common with these felled giants is our financial status or better put, returns as well as a 4-1 aggregate lead like Barcelona.
Following the above trend, one would expect a loss tonight in Russia in the Europa for the Gunners and most likely an exit from the last hope of the common man/Arsenal fan.
To make matters worse, The North London side’s away form has been disastrous to say the least however, that has been on the local league front.
In Europa, The Gunners have been just as efficient away from home and at home to be honest, as their two losses in the Europa competition were at the Emirates and the Müngersdorfer Stadion in Cologne Germany.
Furthermore, compared to the teams that qualified for the Quarterfinals in Champions league, Arsenal have had a season to forget thereby making them less capable of becoming complacent irrespective of the commanding scoreline they carry to Russia to face CSKA Moscow.
The return of Aaron Ramsey to full training having missed out completely on the Southampton game is a breath of relief… Yes… I said it! Ramsey and relief in one sentence.
Goals+Assists contributions of some top quality box to box players this season in all competitions so far:
Aaron Ramsey has 15 despite playing lesser than all. WORLD CLASS BALLER. pic.twitter.com/3gmY8vdrVS
— LTArsenal™ (@ltarsenal) April 4, 2018
Besides his brace in the first leg fixture, his contribution overall was effective for the most parts and considering The Gunners penchant for slow starts, it is highly unlikely with him in the side as he is one restless individual on the pitch.
Having Alexandre Lacazette in the side for the Europa League as well is another reason to be excited as he seems like a man revamped and on a mission. He has declared his dreams about making it to the finals where if my prediction is right, The North London side will be taking on Athletico Madrid in the finals of the Europa… Hopefully not!
Per Mertesacker is available for selection tonight as he was seen traveling with the team to Russia yesterday.
Even though I suppose the backline for tonight’s matchup will be;
Hector Bellerin RB
Skhodran Mustafi RCB
Laurent Koscienly LCB and
Nacho Monreal LB
I believe that defensive back ups such as Per and Sead Kolasinac are a better option to Rob Holding and Callum Chambers.
The Gunners will be without Granit Xhaka for this Europa League fixture as he nurses a knock of his own hence, Mohammed Elneny will have to step into the defensive midfielder position to protect the back four if the Boss plays a 4-2-3-1 formation.
The absence of Henrikh Mkhitaryan will open opportunities for the likes of Wilshere and Iwobi to lay claim to a starting spot in the game.
Lastly, it is imperative that everyone fights for each other on the pitch and show 100% commitment in attitude and drive. The players will require the lungs of the traveling Arsenal faithful to be at full throttle throughout the 90 mins.
My prediction for the game is a 1-3 win for The Gunners in this Europa League fixture and a dream match up against Athletico Madrid in the semifinals of the Europa League should they progress further tonight as well.
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