Classic final as Barca face Gunners
Paris, May 16:
Barcelona against Arsenal in the Champions League final — it has all the ingredients of a high-scoring classic.
“It’s all about winning,” the Gunners’ Thierry Henry said before Wednesday’s game. The Gunners have won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups under manager Arsene Wenger, but have flopped in Europe’s most prestigious club tournament.
Henry doesn’t expect a six-goal thriller like last season’s final in which Liverpool came from 3-0 down against AC Milan in Istanbul to beat the Italians in a penalty shootout.
Arsenal has beaten powerhouses Real Madrid and Italian champion Juventus on the way to the final. Now the Gunners face a Barcelona team which — besides Ronaldinho — has Samuel Eto’o, Deco, Rafael Marquez, forward Henrik Larsson and Ludovic Giuly, as well as Carles Puyol and Xavi Hernandez.
The game pits Barcelona’s natural offense-minded style under coach Frank Rijkaard against Arsenal’s fast counterattacks. “Instead of just pressing forward we have learnt to adapt to each game and remain concentrated throughout,” said Deco, a key player in Barcelona’s midfield.
Ronaldinho’s ability to pick out teammates with high-quality passes could cause problems for Arsenal defense. But, if a Barca move breaks down on the edge of the Gunners penalty area, three or four swift phases of interpassing likely will end with Henry using his pace to charge at goal or setting up a tap-in for a teammate.