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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 May 2006, 15:10 GMT 16:10 UK
Alan Hansen's column

By Alan Hansen
BBC Sport football expert

Arsenal's Thierry Henry and Barcelona's Ronaldinho
You've got two of the best players on the planet at the moment in Thierry Henry and Ronaldinho

I think all the ingredients are in place for a classic Champions League final.

You've got two exceptional attacking teams full of players who can pass and move and have brilliant touch and technique.

Plus you've got two of the best players on the planet at the moment in Thierry Henry and Ronaldinho.

For a team in transition and with a lot of exciting young players Arsenal have done wonders to get to a final most people wouldn't have expected them to reach this year.

Despite that, if Arsenal lose, it will turn out to be a disappointing season for them, with no trophies.

But it would be a dream for them to win it and would be ironic that when they were winning the Premiership and putting an unbeaten domestic league season together, they couldn't win in Europe.

Now they're in their worst league position in five years but are in the Champions League final with a chance of winning it.

That might suggest their game is better suited to a European style of football than the Premiership.

Arsenal are now playing a brand of football we saw from them a couple of years ago

If you look at the poor run Arsenal had in the Premiership this season, it seemed that every second week they were going to the north-west and getting bullied out of games by the likes of Bolton, Blackburn and a few others.

But they got Eboue and Toure back from the African Cup of Nations and tightened up defensively.

They instilled more steel and solidity and are now playing a brand of football we saw from them a couple of years ago.

Arsenal have set records for the number of games and minutes they last conceded a Champions League goal but the strikers Barcelona have got will trouble anybody.

When you look at the teams Arsenal have faced in the Champions League, Real Madrid were a disgrace, while Juventus weren't too clever.

I think the best team Arsenal will come up against will be Barcelona in the final.

Arsenal have to make Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto'o play badly and at the same time their best players have to produce something out of nothing.

Big-name players produce on the big stage, as we saw Steven Gerrard do in the FA Cup final on Saturday, and Henry will relish this opportunity to shine.

If Arsenal can win, English football could dominate Europe for the next four or five years

You could argue that whoever has the best game between Henry and Ronaldinho will win the game.

You can only judge how strong your league is by the Champions League and bringing home the trophy will show how strong the product is, especially as Arsenal are only fourth in the Premiership.

If you look across Europe then Barcelona are probably the strongest side.

But again, as we saw on Saturday, the best side and the favourites don't always have it their own way.

Arsenal will have to do to Barcelona what Barcelona will try to do to them - close down the star players, and deny them any sort of space to work in.

If Arsenal can win, English football could dominate Europe for the next four or five years as English clubs did in the 1970s and '80s.




SEARCH FOR MORE:
Alan Hansen columns

SEE ALSO
How Arsenal can beat Barca
15 May 06 |  Europe
Tim Vickery column
15 May 06 |  Football
Friendly feud drives Eto'o
10 May 06 |  African


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