Barcelona's Pep Guardiola 'frightened' of Arsenal in Champions League

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Posted Sunday, December 19, 2010 by

Barcelona's Pep Guardiola 'frightened' of Arsenal in Champions League
Pep Guardiola (right) celebrates with his Barcelona players during the first leg of their Champions League win over Arsenal last season.

Pep Guardiola, the Barcelona coach, said he was "frightened" of facing Arsenal after the two clubs were once again drawn together in the last 16 of the Champions League. The tie came as no surprise to Arsène Wenger, though, who had predicted his Arsenal side would meet the Spanish giants before the draw took place in Nyon.

While Manchester United drew Marseille, Chelsea face FC Copenhagen and Tottenham Hotspur are up against Milan in their respective ties, the third meeting between Arsenal and Barcelona is the pick of the round and a repeat of last season's quarter-final, which Barcelona won 6-3 on aggregate.

"Arsenal frighten me, but that is true of all the clubs in the draw," said Guardiola "I will be a little calmer when I start to watch their games if I can see any weaknesses. Arsenal are a classic of English football. They have been playing good football for years now. I think they will be stronger than they were last season with [Samir] Nasri now fully established in the team, plus the signing of [Marouane] Chamakh.

"Also there's a difference this time: Cesc [Fábregas] will be on the pitch," the Barcelona manager added. Arsenal's captain missed last season's second leg at the Camp Nou due to injury.

"If you're not at your best, Arsenal overrun you. It should be a fantastic game because we are two very similar sides. They are a very bold, daring team, a side that forces you to defend very well. They play and defend with the ball – they are a very good team who play nice football."

Despite Arsenal being demolished by four goals from Lionel Messi in last season's return leg, and having also been beaten 2-1 in the 2006 final in Paris, Wenger is confident ahead of the teams' meetings on 16 February, at the Emirates, and 8 March, at the Camp Nou.

"Revenge is not on my mind," said the Arsenal manager. "We want to qualify and we want to knock them out. So is it difficult? Yes. Is it possible? Yes. Barcelona are certainly the favourites [for the competition] and a famous team but they did not want us either because they know they will get a game. We are better than last year and we have a good opportunity to show that.

"It is too early to speak about this game concretely. The whole context might be completely different in two months. We don't know what we will do and how we will feel. But the best way of going into that game with confidence is down to what we do from today. If we do well in the league, the FA Cup and the Carling Cup that will give us the best chance of knocking them out."

While Chelsea and Manchester United got kind draws, the next round will be much tougher for Tottenham Hotspur, who take on the Serie A leaders. But Harry Redknapp, the Spurs manager, said: "I would have taken AC Milan before the draw. They are leading the league in Italy but it has the makings of a great game over two legs.

"You want to play the top teams in the world, that's what people want to see so it's a great chance to bring them to White Hart Lane for a great game. It's one to look forward to."

Chelsea will hope to progress further than last year when they lost 3-1 on aggregate in the last 16 to the eventual champions, José Mourinho's Internazionale. Carlo Ancelotti said of the tie against FC Copenhagen, which is to be played on 22 February and 16 March: "It was a good draw. We don't have to be happy because Copenhagen is a good team. They had some good performances in the group because they were able to draw against Barcelona at home.

"They don't have a lot of experience in the Champions League but we have to pay attention. They have the possibility to prepare well for the game physically, because now they have a [winter] break and can come back fresh. It could be an advantage for them."

Last season Manchester United lost on away goals in the quarter-finals after drawing 4-4 on aggregate against Bayern Munich and after drawing Marseille Sir Alex Ferguson's team appear to have every chance of reaching that stage again. "Everyone thought we might get one of the Milan sides because we've faced them quite a few times in the last few years, but we got Marseille in the draw rehearsal and it proved right," he said of the 1993 Champions League winners and current French champions.

"Marseille are a handful at their own ground. They've had a good change in fortunes in the last two or three years, after a dry spell, and I think it'll be a difficult tie."



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