Arsenal came back from the dead last night after losing their first two Champions League group games and losing three from their first four.
But wins against Dynamo Zagreb and Olympiakos in their last two group games finished off the great escape. As we’ve seen from teams like Manchester United in Europe this season, no away game in the Champions League is a formality so Arsenal deserve a huge amount of credit for winning 3-0 in Greece and avoiding the dreaded Europa League.
So for Arsenal, we have the luxury of thinking about our next potential opponents in the knockout stages. Our possible opponents include Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Wolfsburg or Zenit St Petersburg (Chelsea and Manchester City topped their respective groups so we can’t play them).
So who would you want to face?
The obvious teams that will be picked by Arsenal fans would be probably a non-Spanish side. Barcelona are phenomenal and with a striking trident of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez they would be an extremely difficult to beat over one game, nevermind two legs.
People will also point out that Real Madrid are a team we want to avoid but I disagree – I think they would be the perfect team to play.
Yes, they have an array of superstars in their ranks but for me they are a team who are more about being individuals. As a team, when Arsenal are on it they are on it (we’ve beat Bayern Munich already this season) and I believe that we play better as a unit than Real Madrid are at the moment. They have Ronaldo who is all about himself and Bale has been mis-firing this season. At the back they are suspect and I just think that with Mesut Özil in scintillating form we can cause them problems.
Maybe I’m living in a dream world, thinking back to the days when Thierry Henry ran riot at the Bernabeu and scored that sensational goal.
Another reason why we should want Real Madrid is because it’s a glamour tie. People talk far too much about wanting to avoid the big boys – but for me there’s no point in being in the competition unless you have aspirations of winning it – otherwise you might as well stay at home.
Yes, Real Madrid are a massive team but if you want to win the competition then you have to beat the best. We’re not Floyd Mayeather so shouldn’t be afraid of the big teams (except for Barcelona, obviously).
One of the reasons why I love the Champions League is those special nights against the best teams. That’s what it’s all about and I would be confident of turning them over over two legs. Arsenal have shown this season they can dig in, fight and put in a team performance when it matters.
If we perform at our best we can beat Real Madrid, but of course if we didn’t turn up then we could end up embarrassed. The two games against Bayern Munich this season sum up how Arsenal can end up.