Catalan press still fearing Fabregas - despite his 'Barcelona-ness'

Always looking to see a glass half empty and teeming with algae, LLL was all with the despair, sighing and forehead-slapping when it was announced that Barcelona and Arsenal would be thrown together in the Champions League for yet another year.

The two-headed tie meant one more round of Cesc Fabregas ‘heart playing against head’ nonsense and the notion that both games starting with Wednesday’s clash at the Emirates Stadium would be paradise on earth starring the only two teams on the planet that play football properly.

In the blog’s not-so-humble but fairly grumpy opinion, the tie will be hard-pushed to beat Saturday’s Racing vs Sevilla clash, even in the game of the week stakes.

LLL is already right on the first point, having flipped through Wednesday’s papers in the Catalan capital which pick up the supposed divided loyalties of Cesc theme, sniff it, give it a tentative lick, roar in anger and then hammer it into the ground until it’s as flat and lifeless as a Deportivo game.

The front cover of Sport informs some of its more confused readers who may have assumed the Arsenal midfielder was a Barcelona player due to the amount of times he appears in the paper that Cesc will not be “a friend, but a rival.”

It’s a message jammed home by Mundo Deportivo, too, with Miguel Rico writing that “nobody that knows Cesc can doubt his Barcelona-ness, but at the same time everyone knows as well that he is the captain of Arsenal.”

Cesc shows his 'Barcelona-ness'...over ten years ago

The paper sums up the mood in the Camp which echoes last year’s - that Arsenal may put up some resistance, but ultimately they will be squashed by Field Marshall Pep and his Dream Boys after the two ties are over. And that Leo Messi will surely score in England for the first time. Not something that was ever a problem for Gerard Piqué in his spell at Old Trafford. In the football sense of course.

“Today’s Arsenal is better than last year’s. But so is today’s Barça,” warns Sani Nolla in Wednesday’s edition of Mundo Deportivo. “Barcelona with their gala 11 should score in London but know that it is important to win after the whole 180 minutes.”

Guardiola has said all the usual guff about respecting their opponents and preferring to watch Arsenal rather than play them and, to be fair, it is a wonder that he had the time to share these feelings at all as the Barça party will only be spending 30 short hours in London, following Pepf’s preference for feverish in-and-out affairs at away games, rather than dirty weekends.

Barça arrived in London on Tuesday evening, turning down the chance to trot around the Emirates pitch. Instead the Dream Boys headed to Loftus Road for a Wednesday morning stretch and to give Bojan a taste of the Football League - where he may be farmed out unless the wee nipper starts scoring some goals sharpish.

On a prediction front, LLL wouldn’t be at all surprised if Barcelona pick up the same scoreline as la Liga rivals Valencia did in their match against Schalke 04 on Tuesday night, a 1-1 draw.

Once again, Unai Emery confounded all predictions ahead of the game of his approach with wholesale changes in players and formation from the side that beat Atlético 2-1 on Saturday.

Five newbies came into the starting eleven, and for a while it worked with Valencia taking the lead through Roberto Soldado, who has now scored six in the Champions League this season. Which is insane.

However, the pesky kid named Raúl undid the good work of the first half, leaving Valencia facing a tricky task in the away tie in Gelsenkirchen next month. Pep Guardiola would probably be quite content with a similar result to that the German’s managed in the Mestalla.