Barcelona Femeni v Arsenal Preview

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THE LOWDOWN
Arsenal kick off their Champions League group stage with a trip to defending champions Barcelona on Tuesday evening. It’s the first time the Women’s Champions League has had a group stage since it was rebranded from the Women’s UEFA Cup. The Gunners have also drawn Hoffenheim and Danish side Køge.

This is the game with the big red ring around it, however. Arsenal have enjoyed a perfect start to life under new coach Jonas Eidevall with nine wins from nine so far. His Gunners side might have conquered Chelsea and thumped Manchester City 5-0 this season but they have not played a team of Barca’s quality simply because there isn’t a team of their quality on the continent.

This match will be a stern examination of Arsenal’s credentials as they play the continent’s best team away from home. Barca are used to having things their own way and defeated both Manchester City and Chelsea en route to winning the competition last season. To put things in perspective, a point would be a monumental result for Arsenal and a real indication that they could challenge to win this trophy.

That said, Arsenal can really view this match as something of a free swing. Hoffenheim and Køge will not take any points from Barca in this group, Eidevall’s side will know in private that they are playing for second place in this group and the games against the current champions will not be the ones that decide this group.

TEAM NEWS
Once again, Arsenal will only be without Simone Boye Sorensen (knee) and Malin Gut (ACL) for the trip to Catalan. Everyone else in the squad is currently fit and available for selection.

Available squad
GOALKEEPERS: 1.Zinsberger, 18.Williams, 28.Cull
DEFENDERS: 3.Wubben-Moy, 4.Patten, 5.Beattie, 6.Williamson, 7.Catley, 16.Maritz, 22.Schnaderbeck, 29.Goldie
MIDFIELDERS: 8.Nobbs, 10.Little, 12.Maanum, 13.Wälti, 23.Iwabuchi
FORWARDS: 9.Mead, 11.Miedema, 14.Parris, 15.McCabe, 19.Foord, 77.Heath

LAST TIME OUT
The teams met in the competition back in 2012 and Arsenal were runaway winners 7-0 on aggregate. They won the first leg in Spain 3-0 thanks to goals from Jen Beattie, Jordan Nobbs and Katie Chapman and then won the home leg 4-0 with a hat-trick from Jen Beattie and a goal from Kim Little.

THE OPPOSITION
The current European champions, last season they won the Primera Iberdrola by 25 points last season, notching up a goal difference of +152 across 34 games. So far this season, they have won all five of their league games scoring 35 goals and conceding only once. In last season’s Champions League Final, they thumped Chelsea 4-0 (lol).

They’re quite good. In Alexia Putellas they have quite possibly the best player in Europe alongside Vivianne Miedema and they also boast talent like Jenni Hermoso, Lieke Martens, Caroline Graham Hansen, Ingrid Engen, Irene Paredes and Patri. A good deal of their squad has been developed via La Masia and they play the sort of football Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona played. They are quite good.

PLAYER TO WATCH
In the likes of Alexia, Patri and Ingrid Engen, Barca have the best midfield in the world. The way they keep and circulate the ball and strangle teams through possession is without equal in world football. This will be a test of Kim Little’s mettle, not only because Arsenal will not dominate possession here but because Barca press so well on the rare occasions that they do cough up the ball.

Kim is a supreme dribbler in tight spaces and very economical in possession. She won’t see as much of the ball as she usually does but when she does get it she will need to be as precise as a brushstroke. Barca can also be got at if (and it’s an enormous ‘if’) you can get the ball off them. Arsenal will need to release it quickly and attack the space Barca leaves and Little will be crucial in that respect too.

PREDICTED LINE-UP

Subs: 3.Wubben-Moy, 4.Patten, 7.Catley, 8.Nobbs, 14.Parris, 18.Williams, 19.Foord, 22.Schnaderbeck, 77.Heath.

HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
The game takes place at 8pm UK time (9pm local time) Tuesday at the Estadio Johan Cruyff. The match is being screened live and free of charge on the DAZN YouTube channel. You do not require a paid subscription to watch.

COMING UP
We’ll have match reaction from Jonas Eidevall on the site on Tuesday evening. If you haven’t listened already, Tim and Alex Ibaceta got together to preview the game on the latest episode of the Arsenal Women Arsecast too, which you can listen to here.

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Culer

Hi, it’s Barça, not Barca.

“Barca” means boat and it is read /barka/
“Barça” is a football team.

Cheers.

Great analysis, though.

Peter Story Teller

Great if you have a keyboard with Spanish characters on it but for us with the usual Anglicised American English keyboards it would take longer to find that special “c” in the character map than to write the article.
We all know what “Barca” means in this context but lets hope that they play like a rowing boat and the Gunners return home with some points on the table!

Tim Stillman

Yeah thanks, first I wrote this on an iPad which doesn’t have accents- this is a big frustration for me as a Portuguese speaker! But also the style guide on the site doesn’t call for cedilhas and the like because there are so many different players and teams from so many different places that it would take so much time and energy to get everything on the nose. When we speak about players and teams from other countries we don’t always use the pitch perfect pronunciations for every word in every language. If I got on people’s backs in Brazil… Read more »

Yokomichi

Thanks for the insight Cutler, I didn’t know this.

It *is* harder to type “ç” on the keyboard (I just looked it up and found I can do it with Option + C), but I’ll try to type “Barça” from now on.

Armchair

Only you will bother with the circumflex, I fear. Everyone else understands that we’re referring to the football team and don’t want to bother hunting for a circumflex key.

Gunnaration

Wawu! I believe in our girls. This is the first real big test for us so far! Honestly, I’ll take any kinda draw. They play like Pep’s Barca and we play like Flick’s Bayern, should be very interesting…

verstellung

I’d say Chelsea was our first big test…IMO

Reiss Neverseen vs the DicTeta

This is going to such an exciting game. Two teams in red-hot form in a two-legged matchup😛😛😛.

I must say… Barca’s points and goal tally since 2020 is literally what you would see in a video game (on beginner mode) but I have faith in our squad to get a result.

President Eckener

I want us to win this one so bad! I see the return match is set at Boreham Wood, surely they should be putting it at the Emirates?

Andrea

Tobin, will start in this game. She’s an experienced big game player.

Yokomichi

I’m not sure if Heath will start, but I hope she gets time in the game.

Her attack from the left is a pure threat, and her shots are powerful.

She can provide great crosses in a set piece, and it may exploit one of the few weaknesses of Barça!

Jordan

Barcelona More than just a men’s team!

Henkamp

PSG ran them close in last year’s semi finals. I believe we are now more tactically flexible enough to run them close, too. Not expecting much, but would be ecstatic if we get a positive result as that would bode really well for our future.

Fun Gunner

Up the Arsenal! This is a very exciting match-up. I hope we just relax and show how good we are.

Elise

Can’t wait to see this game!!! Come on you gooners!!

Worst case Jonas & the team will learn a lot and that’ll help us scrape some points from the return match 🙂

Nate K

Okay so. Let’s say my friend lives in America and works in the office on Tuesday. How might he find the replay online without spoilers?

I don’t mean this in a cynical way, but Tim and Andrew and Elliott are really selling the women’s team well. I think this year I’d rather watch an Arsenal team make a European challenge than watch any competition featuring PSG men.

DaDude

If you go right now to the youtube channel of “DAZN UEFA Women’s Champions League”, there is already a dedicated link for the Barca vs Arsenal game, which is supposed to start streaming live in 9 hours. I suppose that if one would copy that link into a textfile before going to work / before the game starts and enter it after the end of the game in one of the plentifully available youtube downloaders (either online or software based), the video would download and one could then watch it directly from one’s device without being spoiled by visiting the… Read more »

Nate K

Thanks, my friend will see how it goes when they get home!

Xuan

Focused and strong start will be key. Chelsea conceded in the 1st minute and it is a long way back from there. Listened to the podcast and for sure the spanish league may be stronger than results suggest… but here i am thinking: if everyone plays the same style, then the team with the best players will naturally win. So the key to get success against barcelona is to play differently. You cant beat them at their game, so make sure you play yours. Agree with Jonas that it is a test of where we are. But not in terms… Read more »

gunner23

Coyg! I think it would be better to play Catley as LB though. I love Katie and her attacking-minded way of playing as a fullback, but she isn’t a natural defender. Defensively, I think Catley is better and she’ll have more of a chance against CGH

DanDomK

I would go for Katie at LW too. I don’t know how much effective Mana will be against a team that will have most of the ball. I think we need the front 3 to be quick so as to catch them on counter attacks.

Yokomichi

I tend to agree with your point about Iwabuchi for the same reason as you — and I am a fan of hers. Call me pessimistic but I anticipate it will be a tough game. Barça press really aggressively on the flanks and in midfield. Multiple players will swarm you and they will bump, hold your arm, pull your shirt, push and shove. To evade such a press, you actually need your teammates to come really close to the ball holder to provide outlets, and you need to do a series of anticipated and coordinated one touch passes, and I… Read more »

DanDomK

I know Barca will be our biggest game/opponent so far, but doesn’t it hold that we too, will be their first real test of the season? This game will be closer than most people believe. Though scoring the first goal and/or not conceding in the first 30 min will crucial for us. I believe we can do it. #COYG

Gunner H

I really don’t see any reason to fear our opponents given our recent form.
And 11 of our players have recent experience of performing on the “greatest stage” at the Olympic Games, where only 1 Barca player, Martens, appeared.
Within our squad we have Team GB’s star performer (Kim), Holland’s best player (Viv), England’s new captain, the captains of Austria, Ireland & Switzerland, and last but not least our explosive new American World Cup Winner – twice!
One final advantage: Beth Mead’s on fire 🙂