After suffering 3-1 defeat at the Emirates against Bayern Munich last season, no body, and yes no body, kept any hope of an Arsenal comeback. It was that difficult. But, Arsenal is just Arsenal. With burden of expectations off their back, not only did they produce one of their best ever away Champions League night in their history but catapulted their wobbling season back of track.
The seeds of hope were germinated that night. Probably that’s why despite claiming that Bayern are the best club side in the world, Wenger knows he can pull out the rabbit from the hat yet again.
There is a genuine belief in the Arsenal camp this time around. That victory at the Allianz is a morale booster, but more than anything else, it is the burgeoning self-belief within the squad that pleases the Frenchman. And he is not talking about some tactical stuff to destroy their opponent; rather he invokes the mental fortitude needed in big games. He is using words like ‘spirit’, ‘strong desire’, ‘mental shape’ and ‘belief’.
When asked whether he feels Bayern is the best club side in the world, he said as quoted in The Mirror:
“They won the World Club Cup [last December], they won the European championship, so I would have to say yes.
“Maybe in the style there is always room for improvement but if they just do the same achievements this season they can say they have improved because it’s more difficult to do it again.
“We know we face the favourites of the competition. But we have belief. We are in a much better mental shape than a year ago.
“We have a strong team spirit, that is for sure, and a strong desire to do well and a united team.”
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini could find himself in hot waters and face severe punishment from Uefa after accusing the referee of being ‘not impartial’ in Barcelona defeat.
Pellegrini blamed referee Jonas Eriksson for his team’s 2-0 defeat in the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie against the Spanish champions.
“The referee decided the game,” said Pellegrini as quoted by The Times. “I felt the referee was not impartial to both teams, so he decided the game with that foul he didn’t give against Navas, and after, the penalty that was not a penalty — it [the foul] was outside the box.
“He [Eriksson] did not have any control of the game. He decided for Barcelona from the beginning to the end. I think it was not a good idea to put a referee from Sweden in such an important match and a referee who made an important mistake against Barcelona in the competition [in 2012].
“I think there is more important football in Europe than Sweden. A big game with two important teams, I think maybe in that kind of game you need a referee with more experience.”
Pellegrini was furious with the decision of not pointing a foul on Jesus Navas, before awarding a penalty for a challenge by Martín Demichelis on Lionel Messi which he felt has occurred outside the penalty box.