So the squad for tomorrow’s match at El Estadio Santiago Bernabeu is announced:
Lehmann, Flamini, Senderos, Djourou, Toure, Eboue, Fabregas, Gilberto, Diaby, Hleb, Henry, Almunia, Ljungberg, Pires, Lupoli, Larsson, Walcott, Reyes, Song.
The players highlighted are the starting XI I expect Wenger to pick. Of the remaining eight, I suspect the unlucky man may well be Lupoli – if it’s going badly, I think I’d be more inclined to see the pace of Walcott harrassing Helguera and Salgado as they are strictly one – paced, whilst Cicinho, if he plays, will leave gaps to be exploited. Ashley Cole is considered unfit and somewhat understandably Wenger will not risk the remainder of the season on one night of potential glory or not as the case may be. The 4th spot is not beyond Arsenal due to Tottenham’s reluctance to take advantage of our slips although I believe the greatest threat at the moment comes from Bolton. A long run in both the FA and UEFA cups on their part could work in our favour with a backlog of fixtures becoming inevitable.
Reyes in particular will be looking forward to this match, having a history of putting in good performances against Madrid including his last one in a Sevilla shirt which prompted Zidane to comment that Reyes was on an invisible motorbike, he was buzzing around them all night. Sevilla won 4 -1 that night with Reyes scoring and creating 2 others. Fabregas is from Barelona so will need no motivation to produce his best form whilst Pires is of Spanish extraction on, I believe, his fathers side as is Senderos. For Reyes and Fabregas there is the added incentive of playing themselves into the Spanish World Cup squad in front of their “home” crowd.
Should Arsenal come away with a win, it will rank amongst their best results ever in this tournament, sitting comfortably alongside the 3 – 1 win in Rome and the 5 – 1 demolition of Internazionale. Even a draw for this team will be good, the imperative must be to score an away goal.
“Get out your mat and pray to the west, I’ll get out mine and pray for myself…” springs immediately to mind on this one. So in the time honoured and corny fashion of this blog, Eton Rifles is one of the todays tunes:
The Jam – The Eton Rifles (Something Else 15.09.1979)