Arsene Wenger: From Dumbledore to dunce
Until around 22.30 on Tuesday night, Arsene Wenger had a well-earned reputation in Spain for being a bit of an avuncular, Dumbledore type figure: unthreatening, cultured and a proper gent famous for relishing in the finer side of football. So much so, in fact, that Florentino PÃÂ©rez Ã¢ÂÂ seeing the FrenchmanÃ¢ÂÂs name in a sticker album one afternoon Ã¢ÂÂ even tried to bring the Arsenal boss to the Bernabeu on his return to the Real Madrid presidency in 2009.
But after the events in the Camp Nou, WengerÃ¢ÂÂs reputation as a sophisticated sommelier of the beautiful game went so far south that penguins were waddling on top of it. Arsenal's 3-1 defeat has been greeted in Barcelona as a victory for truth, justice and the Catalan way. Then again, pretty much all wins for PepÃ¢ÂÂs Dream Boys are viewed thusly, such are the sideÃ¢ÂÂs insufferably smug ways.
The Barcelona press have taken particular umbrage to Arsenal coming to the Camp Nou to defend their first leg lead and maybe grab a cheeky goal on the break in the process Ã¢ÂÂ a strategy that was a Javier Mascherano toe-nail away from succeeding.
LLL would note that the local papers should instead be very grateful indeed that Wenger went for this particular approach, as the quality of the final pass and finish from BarÃÂ§a for much of the game was such that even 2% more attacking intent from the visitors might have seen the Catalan clubÃ¢ÂÂs Champions League ambitions dunked in the teacup of failure.
Ã¢ÂÂCreation destroyed destruction,iÃ¢ÂÂ purred Sport, reflecting on a win for their beloved Barcelona. Ã¢ÂÂThis Arsenal is a losing team, they lack grandeur, ambition and talent,Ã¢ÂÂ jibed Josep MarÃÂa Casanovas, who scoffed that Ã¢ÂÂthereÃ¢ÂÂs only one BarÃÂ§a and are no imitations are accepted.Ã¢ÂÂ
Mundo Deportivo were just as scathing as TuesdayÃ¢ÂÂs opponents, with Sani Nolla kicking the Arsenal coach when heÃ¢ÂÂs down by claiming that Ã¢ÂÂif Wenger had an image as a prestigious coach, this knockout by Barcelona has put him in his true place.Ã¢ÂÂ
The general feeling in both the Barcelona and Madrid press is that the Robin van PersieÃ¢ÂÂs sending off was harsh but wouldn't have changed the outcome of a game which now has the famous statistic of Arsenal failing to have a single shot on target.
Ã¢ÂÂArsenalÃ¢ÂÂs complaints are legitimate but it doesnÃ¢ÂÂt serve as an excuse,Ã¢ÂÂ was the reflection on the result from Marca. Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs hard to knock out Barcelona without having a shot.Ã¢ÂÂ
Ã¢ÂÂBarÃÂ§a in the quarters, Arsenal in the street,Ã¢ÂÂ blasted AS, reporting that the English(ish) side got a Ã¢ÂÂthorough thrashingÃ¢ÂÂ Ã¢ÂÂ well, the paper literally said Arsenal got a Ã¢ÂÂbathÃ¢ÂÂ, but that has very different connotations indeed.
And so to Wednesday night as Valencia, the second of SpainÃ¢ÂÂs three teams in Champions League action in the last 16, face Ã¢ÂÂRaÃÂºlÃ¢ÂÂs SchalkeÃ¢ÂÂ as they are now known in Spain. A 1-1 draw from the first leg sees the Mestalla men facing a tough ask in Germany, but Valencia fans have been boosted by the tip that Roberto Soldado will probably starting the game from the bench. And yes, LLL knows how many goals the former Getafe man has scored in the competition, but the blog blindly insists that they are all either flukes or scuffs.
Ã¢ÂÂWe have to play with cold heads, but hot bodies,Ã¢ÂÂ said Unai Emery, revealing his game plan of dressing his players in figure-hugging body-snoods. Ã¢ÂÂThis is our moment, our chance to enjoy ourselves where all the big teams are.Ã¢ÂÂ
AS notes with some sadness that should Valencia prevail on Wednesday night Ã¢ÂÂ and LLL expects a 1-1 draw and penalties Ã¢ÂÂ then it could well be RaÃÂºlÃ¢ÂÂs final Champions League tie, as Schalke are unlikely to qualify for next seasonÃ¢ÂÂs competition and the chances of the old fella moving to another big team are slim.
But then again, at least one club in London could do with a player who has both decent hearing and knows how to put the ball in the back of the net when it really counts. And as RaÃÂºl said to David Albelda after the first leg clash, Ã¢ÂÂold rockers never die.Ã¢ÂÂ