Rarely does an elite level club deserve sympathy for on-field failings, given the rewards and benefits that come with being an athlete at that level.
But Arsenal made precious few tactical mistakes on the defensive end against attack juggernaut Barcelona on Tuesday, and still lost 2-0 in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.
Their scorers didn’t finish their chances, and the Gunners failed to take advantage of off-days from both Neymar and Luis Suarez.
Now it’s going to take an unexpected and wild result at the Camp Nou for the Gunners to pull off the upset of the Blaugranas, and it’s fairly clear that Arsene Wenger and company know it after being on the opposite end of Barca’s 33rd match without a loss.
From the BBC:
“We put a lot of energy in the game and technically we were very average.
“The regret I had was once we looked like we dominate the game, we give the goal away. Similar to Monaco last season, naive, and that is frustrating. When we looked like we could win the game, we just gave it away.
“Realistically it is very,very difficult, if not impossible. We have to go there and fight. We had the chances, we didn’t score.”
Difficult if not impossible? Inspiring, boss. Inspiring.
Then there’s Aaron Ramsey. “We did really well in the first half – we created a few opportunities but didn’t take them. It will be tough for us now but we will go there and try our hardest. Against a side like that you have to take your chances.”
They’ll try their hardest. Not a ringing endorsement, and it seems Arsenal wasted a prime chance to topple one of the best teams ever.