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Posted at 9:47 AM ET, 02/17/2011

Video: Arsenal 2, Barcelona 1

By Steve Goff

Spend four quality minutes watching Messi and Arshavin, Barcelona and Arsenal:

By Steve Goff  | February 17, 2011; 9:47 AM ET
Categories:  England, Euro Champions League, Spain  | Tags:  Arsenal, Barcelona, UEFA Champions League  
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Comments

What a game.

Posted by: TheAMT | February 17, 2011 10:01 AM | Report abuse

stunning. god to have been there.

Posted by: Matte | February 17, 2011 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Call me a Eurosnob, but can anyone watch that game and honestly believe MLS is more than a third tier minor league team (perhaps on its way to being second tier)?

Yes, I am a proud American; yes I sing (and know all the words to)the National Anthemn; yes I fly the flag proudly from my front stips; yes MLS/DCU is the best we've got on a summer's evening.

And, I'm not talking about the US team, half of whom play overseas. Go USA!

But for the MLS apologists on this blog to think anything about our league is comparable to what I watched last night is delusional.

Go ahead: question my patriotism, my parentage, and my preferences.

Posted by: BlackandRedRedDevil | February 17, 2011 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I think we all recognize the straw man you're using as made in the USA.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | February 17, 2011 10:14 AM | Report abuse

To be fair, those were two of the maybe 8 best teams in the world. Watch Barcelona play Levante or something and your views might be sliiiightly different.


Also, can I say how it warms the cackles (sp?) of my heart to see Victor Valdes make a boneheaded blunder that costs him team?

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | February 17, 2011 10:17 AM | Report abuse

@BlackandRedRedDevil

I think most europeans were probably thinking the same thing about their own club.

Posted by: dcserge | February 17, 2011 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Restaurant Quality!

Posted by: DadRyan | February 17, 2011 10:25 AM | Report abuse

@BlackandRedRedDevil - while I don't disagree with you and have thought the same things on those summer evenings last year, some teams in MLS can complete more than 2 passes in front of the other teams goal. Last year I remember watching RSL play 1-touch soccer and wondered why DCU was the back-pass leader. I'm cautiously optimistic that this year will be better. It's a long way from the top leagues in Europe but is showing slow improvement.

Posted by: tcbannon | February 17, 2011 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Interesting it was Arshavin to win it in the end. Arsenal fans correct me if i'm wrong but as I understand it, he's gotten a lot of crap from Gunners fans this season for inconsistent play and a seemingly bad attitude.

Posted by: michanikos1 | February 17, 2011 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Incredible game.

Posted by: UnitedDemon1 | February 17, 2011 10:57 AM | Report abuse

MLS is the greatest soccer league in the world (note that I'm using the word "world" as in "World Series" and "World Champion Green Bay Packers").

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 17, 2011 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Call me a Eurosnob, but can anyone watch that game and honestly believe MLS is more than a third tier minor league team (perhaps on its way to being second tier)?

I most certainly can. MLS is eighteen third-tier minor league teams.

Posted by: BooThisMan | February 17, 2011 10:59 AM | Report abuse

@BlackandRedRedDevil:

I invite you to catch a West Ham v. Wigan matchup sometime. Sublime stuff, that.

Posted by: teo_68 | February 17, 2011 10:59 AM | Report abuse

@BlackandRedRedDevil,

Have you seen West Ham this year? ;)

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | February 17, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Call me a Eurosnob, but can anyone watch that game and honestly believe MLS is more than a third tier minor league team (perhaps on its way to being second tier)?

Posted by: BlackandRedRedDevil
---------------------------------------------

Oh give it a rest! You watch two of the best teams in the world and then conclude that that they are much better than MLS teams?

Brilliant one, you are.

I'll bet you can easily distinguish day from night, too.

Posted by: PrinceBuster21 | February 17, 2011 11:08 AM | Report abuse

this game was the highlight of my sick day yesterday. fantastic stuff. and I'll echo the statement that you were seeing the best of the best with this game. Trying to compare it to MLS is unfair to MLS. Trying to compare these teams to most other teams in the world is unfair.

Posted by: nairbsod | February 17, 2011 11:08 AM | Report abuse

@ michanikos1, You are right, he got a lot of heat from Gunners lately. He was definitely in a awful form the last couple of months, but he seems to be coming back to his usual self. As one said, form is temporary, class is permanent.

That was a cracker of a game though!

@ BlackandRedRedDevil, I dont think it is valid for just MLS. Very few teams (or leagues for that matter) are capable to offer such a exhibit!

Posted by: charlie015 | February 17, 2011 11:12 AM | Report abuse

The Beautiful Game, played beautifully.

Soccer played poorly can be awful to watch. Soccer played brilliantly is simply wonderful. That game was wonderful.

It was fun to watch Fabregas work so hard. And Wilshere is going to be a stud, if he isn't one already. My daughter's favorite player has gone from Giggs to Wilshere, just like that!

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | February 17, 2011 11:15 AM | Report abuse

filed that one in the DVR under "Save until I delete"

Posted by: OWNTF | February 17, 2011 11:15 AM | Report abuse

As a die hard fan of both hockey and soccer, I see a lot of resemblance between the MLS and the AHL. Where the best MLS team ranks with the best of the worst in Europe... I dont know, and I don't care to hypothesize.

Posted by: GFisher1 | February 17, 2011 11:19 AM | Report abuse

+1 on Wilshere

Posted by: OWNTF | February 17, 2011 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Thought that just hit me and is completely off topic:

Heath Pearce and Jimmy Conrad on the same team is both good for Chivas' back line, and fans of fun everywhere.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | February 17, 2011 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Grant Wahl for FIFA president? I could get on board.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 17, 2011 11:42 AM | Report abuse

re Grant Wahl -- "Seppsis" -- that's a good one

More seriously, wny not Beckenbauer for that job?

Posted by: OWNTF | February 17, 2011 12:14 PM | Report abuse

"Beckenbauer a bit of a surprise..."

Posted by: JkR- | February 17, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

BaRRD is 100% correct. MLS will only approach the status of Euroleagues when current, not former players are arrested for barroom brawling.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 17, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

nairbsod said: Trying to compare it to MLS is unfair to MLS.
***********

I am not trying to compare the EPL and/or La Liga to MLS. While I don't write too often anymore, I do read SI and the comments every day. I could probably go back over the past year and find over a hundred posts where others, not I, make the comparison, with MLS coming out favorably.

Posted by: BlackandRedRedDevil | February 17, 2011 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: BlackandRedRedDevil
"Call me a Eurosnob, but can anyone watch that game and honestly believe MLS is more than a third tier minor league team (perhaps on its way to being second tier)?"

Posted by: BlackandRedRedDevil
"I am not trying to compare the EPL and/or La Liga to MLS."

OK. So you're comparing a Champions League game to MLS?

Posted by: nairbsod | February 17, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

@ VirginiaBlueBlood

That comeback against the Baggie was one of the better games I've watched all season.

@Rand-al-Thor

Agree about Wilshere this year, but not giving up my Giggs crush until Wilshere has played 800+ games.

@OWNTF absolutely do not delete. Even knowing the result, the game is well worth watching.

@PrinceBuster21

I'm so sorry, I didn't realize the insertion of the second and third paragraphs would prevent you from connecting the theme in the first and the fourth.

I suppose it's as hard to distinguish as primacy from recency.

Posted by: BlackandRedRedDevil | February 17, 2011 1:15 PM | Report abuse

@BaRRD: I hear ya on Giggs, but for my teenage daughter, I'm afraid Wilshere wins the battle!

What Giggs can do at his age is pretty amazing. Sir Alex is managing him well.

Can't wait for Arsenal-Barca II.

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | February 17, 2011 1:26 PM | Report abuse

OK. So you're comparing a Champions League game to MLS?

Posted by: nairbsod |

You're absolutely right. That's exactly what I said. Silly me. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

Now SI can go back to being all CD9 all the time.

Posted by: BlackandRedRedDevil | February 17, 2011 1:33 PM | Report abuse

In terms of Hollwwood prettyboys who played vampires, Jack Wilshire is to Robert Pattinson as Ryan Giggs is to Tom Cruise.

I fear that analogy will be a future SAT question.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 17, 2011 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Meh... Clearly this is some really good football. You don't have to be a Eurosnob to know that. The true measure of Eurosnobness is if you would rather watch a Championship or League 1 promotion playoff match than MLS.

Posted by: mason08 | February 17, 2011 1:47 PM | Report abuse

yeah, enjoying that game makes you a football fan, not a Eurosnob. using it as an opportunity to denigrate MLS makes you a shooter of fish-in-a-barrel.

@mason08 - a tough call sometimes. i would prefer a promotion match over a May KC-Chivas game in all likelihood. but would watch an MLS playoff game over an October Wolves-Sunderland matchup. it's situational, but fortunately those types of games aren't usually on at the same time so it's not a decision that needs to be made often.

Posted by: dimesmakedollars | February 17, 2011 1:58 PM | Report abuse

@PrinceBuster21

I'm so sorry, I didn't realize the insertion of the second and third paragraphs would prevent you from connecting the theme in the first and the fourth.

I suppose it's as hard to distinguish as primacy from recency.

Posted by: BlackandRedRedDevil
------------------------------------------

Your post was needlessly antagonistic toward MLS fans, and you know it (even if you were stating the obvious).

Posted by: PrinceBuster21 | February 17, 2011 2:05 PM | Report abuse

DMD-
Agreed. Matches where something (anything really) is at stake are better.

Posted by: mason08 | February 17, 2011 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Speak for yourself. I took no umbrage. But if you presume to include me in "MLS fans," you must also include BaRRD.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 17, 2011 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Demo BLVD-
I take no umbrage either, but it was still a silly comparison.

Posted by: mason08 | February 17, 2011 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, I-270, but being the Eurosnob that I am, PB21 probably assumed the "BaR" part referred to Stendhal.

Posted by: BlackandRedRedDevil | February 17, 2011 2:41 PM | Report abuse

WINNERS BOTH!

"Your post was needlessly antagonistic toward MLS fans, and you know it (even if you were stating the obvious)."
Posted by: PrinceBuster21

"yeah, enjoying that game makes you a football fan, not a Eurosnob. using it as an opportunity to denigrate MLS makes you a shooter of fish-in-a-barrel."
Posted by: dimesmakedollars

Posted by: nairbsod | February 17, 2011 3:35 PM | Report abuse

sheesh, who put all this sand in the vaseline?

Posted by: DadRyan | February 17, 2011 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Arshavin until the last 3 games or so was on a downward slide. He was lazy, not running. He started to miss many easy ones on goal, and that lead to a lack of confidence in his usual spotless passing. Before Nasri got injured, he had effectively replaced Arshavin. When Nasri got injured (he just made it back this game), Arshavin realized this was his opportunity to fight again for his spot on the team, and he began running again, getting passes, and last night scored a beauty. He seems to run hot and cold, such as he was on fire when he joined the club and slowly slumped, and my understanding was he was going through something similar on his Russian club before Arsenal picked him up.

Last time when these two clubs met, Barcelona threw Arsenal off their game by pressing hard defensively up the pitch, forcing turnovers and denying them their accustomed control game. They went into bunker mode, where you have 11 men camped on or near the 18yd box panic clearing every ball in the box.

This time Arsenal came into the game with a get-in-Barca's-face strategy. Barcelona had a hard time with a recent Spanish league opponent who did that. THis is where the excitement of last nights game came...it was really a midfield battle all night long, with both teams pressing hard to get the ball back. Clearly Barca is much more skilled at retaining the ball as there was about a 20 min stretch where Arsenal could not get it back. But the relentless pressing of Arsenal, coupled with their speedy counter-attacking, and a surprisingly good performance from Kocielny stopped the Barca attack and wore them down. They decided to defensively sub and hang on to their lead, pulling out Villa, which was a tactical error.

I think that both Barcelona and Arsenal are similar in that the tremendous threat of their offense keeps the opposition honest defensively, forcing them to not send everyone forward. When Arsenal goes into this bunker mode to protect a lead, invariably the other teams come back as they can send many upfield and bombard them with relentless attack. Wenger responded by pulling a defender and adding Arshavin, which was playing to Arsenal's strength of upping offense.

Wilshire will be a star unless the usual thuggish tackles by teams like Blackburn put him out with serious injury. Chesny the goalie also looks like he can mature into a memorable goalie with time.

This was a huge Arsenal victory in which they beat a full strength Barca side by playing Arsenal's game the way I like them to play. The game was not decided by referees or injuries or cards. It is going to stay on my DVR for a long time.

Posted by: Wiggan | February 17, 2011 4:00 PM | Report abuse

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