The Decision That Destroyed Arsenal’s Wembley Aspirations




Massimo Busacca

Massimo Busacca

Going to the Camp Nou and hoping to win, was always going to be an almost impossible task, unless you are very lucky. Arsenal were going there as underdogs even after winning the home tie 2-1,  winning in Barcelona’s Camp Nou, in the atmosphere of 95,000 fans, playing out a draw would be the best result they would hope for.

Arsenal had their injury concerns, with Theo Walcott, Alex Song ruled out but a miraculous comeback by Robin van Persie to start the game, which must be dreaded by him and Arsene Wenger, now raised hopes of the Arsenal faithful.

Barca too were missing their first choice center backs Gerrard Pique was out suspended and Captain terrific Carles Puyol couldn’t recover in time for clash. Victor Valdez and Xavi though brushed off their injuries to play a part in the game.

The match started on a high tempo, the Spanish Champions knew they had to get going from the word go. Messi being denied a penalty, Arsenal seemed lucky until, their first choce and extremely talented no. 1 keeper Wojciech Szczesny broke a finger and was subbed in the starting twenty minutes, to make way for the uninspiring Manuel Almunia who less than twelve months back endured mauling by the best player in the world, and could do nothing about it.

The first- half looked goalless and Arsenal supporters getting more and more optimistic with every passing minute, they knew if they beat Barca they could surely go on to win the ‘Mother of all competitions’ but it wasn’t to happen.

Destiny struck the Gunners and Lady Luck smiled on the Catalans as an error from the defenders led to Lionel Messi beating the keeper and scoring the goal that put them in lead of the tie at the end of first half.

Beginning of second half saw a fiery Arsenal side trying to score a goal which would mean if they equalized Barcelona would have to score two, a terrific corner from Nasri and confusion between the Barca defenders led to an own goal by stand in center back Sergio Busquets.  The joy would last only a few minutes as the worst decision of the season would not go in Arsenal’s way.

Robin van Persie who was booked earlier for a harsh tackle was offside and in front of a buzzing 95,000 capacity crowd seemed to have not heard the whistle and went on to shoot that too just after a second he had blown it. It was enough to annoy the referee, showing him the second yellow which would become a red and give him his marching orders shocking the world of football.  One of the very few rules we learn when we start playing football is if you don’t hear the referees whistle don’t stop go ahead and shoot,  with 95,000 thousand fans buzzing its genuine enough of him to say that he didn’t hear the ref’s whistle.

Being ten man down, hurt Arsenal’s confidence and it all went downhill for Barca who scored twice in the 69th minute through Xavi Hernandez and a penalty converted by star of the evening Leo Messi.  Arsenal though would have still qualified had substitute Nicklas Bendtner not fluffed his chance in front of of goal and perhaps if Wenger had played in form Andrei Arshavin ahead of Thomas Rosicky but we live to talk about that for another day. Van Persie’s Red card surely killed the game and broke hearts of millions of the Gunners fans. I do hope one thing now Gunners get what they deserve and win the competition, which has always been a mirage for the fans.

The way the club is going, Arsenal is destined for success. Success even greater than the current great Barcelona side.

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Ojas Mhatre

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Hello guys, all you sports fans. This is Ojas Mhatre here I am 16 and I am giving my HSC exams this march so pray for me. But that is besides the point I am a sports fanatic, I have represented the state in cricket and played football at district-level. February is a special month for me Last month this time I was called for a trial with the Royal Challengers Bangalore and, this time I get to write for you. Hope to entertain you with my articles mainly on football as I am a big Arsenal and Bayern Munich fan, But also Cricket and Tennis. Here's hoping I become the most loved writer. Guys your love matters the most to me, Cheers to our relationship getting on the right foot.

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