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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 May 2006, 07:53 GMT 08:53 UK
How Arsenal can beat Barca
By Tom Fordyce

Ronaldinho
How can Arsenal stop this man?

It might seem like an impossible task - beating the best side in Europe, a side that contains the stellar talents of Ronaldinho, Eto'o and Puyol.

But as legendary Italian manager Alberto Zaccheroni tells BBC Sport, it is a task within Arsenal's reach.

Zaccheroni enjoyed a successful career in Serie A - leading unheralded Udinese to third place in 1998 and then moving to Milan and helping them win the title the following season.

Here Zaccheroni - twice voted Serie A manager of the year - reveals what Arsenal must do to be crowned European champions.

DEALING WITH RONALDINHO

Zaccheroni says: "Because of Ronaldinho's quality, Wenger will make Arsenal as compact as possible on the right-hand side.

"Barca do have quality on their wing - but not to the same extent.

Alberto Zaccheroni
Zaccheroni won the Serie A title with Milan in 1999

"Ronaldinho will be taken by the right-back and the midfielder closest to the right-back at the time.

"Ronaldinho starts on the left-hand-side, but he doesn't play with his left foot - so they will try to force him outside.

"Why? Because if you force him outside, you give him fewer options to play.

"Ronaldinho is not a player who is constantly involved. He plays with a lot of quality, but not a lot of quantity.

"So they will keep it compact, try to force him out and try to put a two-on-one on him so they can win the ball.

"I don't think Arsene Wenger will attempt to man-mark him.

"If Arsenal were to try that, Ronaldinho could drift into the middle and Samuel Eto'o would go to the left, and Barca would wreak just as much havoc.

"When Barca played Milan in the semi-finals and Cafu came on, Ronaldinho drifted into the middle and Eto'o went to play against Cafu - and they caused all sorts of problems."

CONTAINING THE OTHER BARCA THREATS

Zaccheroni says: "To stop Barca playing, you have to watch the spaces.

"What does that mean? Well, Eto'o and Giuly are really good at attacking the space between and behind the back four.

"You have to stop Ronaldinho playing his through-balls, and stop the other two exploiting the space behind the defence."

THE SECOND KEY AREA

Zaccheroni says: "It's vitally important that Arsenal keep Barca under pressure in midfield, because it's not just Ronaldinho - there's Deco, Iniesta and Van Bommel - players with a lot of quality.

"They can create problems, because they are also capable of playing the killer through-ball.

"Arsenal shouldn't worry about letting Barca have space on the flanks - Belletti or Van Bronckhorst are not so much of a danger as the men in the centre.

"Barca don't cause as many problems with crosses, because while Eto'o is OK in the air, Ronaldinho and Giuly are not so much of a threat.

"Arsenal as an English team are very good at dealing with crosses. So I would give more freedom to Belletti and Van Bronckhorst - they will not be able to hurt Arsenal in the same way."

WHICH SYSTEM?

Zaccheroni says: "Against Arsenal, Barca will play the classic 4-3-3 - different to the way they played against Milan.

"Against Milan, Rijkaard put a man on Kaka and played three at the back - but he will not do that in the final, because Arsenal do not have the same creative midfield threat as Milan did in Kaka.

"I don't think Wenger will change his tactics or system.

"Arsenal's best chance of success will come if they go wide and attack down the flanks.

"If Arsenal are brave enough to attack Barca, they can succeed - because Barca's biggest weakness is at the back.

"They are not very well-organised. If you attack the back four, you can beat them.

"In the semis, Milan couldn't play down the flanks. They failed to offer a threat out wide - and that cost them."

ARSENAL'S ATTACKING WORRY

Zaccheroni says: "My biggest worry with Arsenal is that they might not be able to put enough pressure on the Barca rearguard.

"Wenger will continue to use Thierry Henry in the same way as he has throughout the Champions League - as a lone striker.

"But to put the weak link of Barca's defence under pressure, you maybe need more than one man - even if that one man is Henry.

"Eventually Barcelona will make a mistake, but you have to put them under pressure.

"Arsenal's system of counter-attack has worked brilliantly for them in Europe - but they need to apply as much pressure as they can to the Barca back four.

"They need to play as they did against Juve in Turin, and not as they did against Villarreal in the second leg."

WHAT HENRY MUST DO

Zaccheroni says: "Henry must look to get one-on-one against Rafael Marquez rather than Carles Puyol.

"Rijkaard will get his defence to play a deeper line than usual, so they deny Henry the space behind them that he likes to exploit with his pace.

"But that could favour Arsenal in the midfield battle - it creates more space in midfield.

"And Arsenal can use that midfield space to attack the flanks."

FINAL WORDS

Zaccheroni says: "I'm not Wenger, but I would say this: the mindset makes all the difference in the final.

"I would trust my players. I would repeat their achievements in making the final.

"I would tell them that I trust their abilities. 'What you have done in the past was right, and I trust you again.

"'Trust your ability, trust yourselves. You deserve to be in the final; you are a strong team.'"

THE ZACCHERONI PREDICTION

Zaccheroni says: "It's always hard to know what will happen in the Champions League final - just look at what happened in Istanbul last year.

"On paper, Barca might seem to be the favourites, because they are the more technically accomplished team.

"But they are not as well organised as Arsenal.

"And that leaves it beautifully poised at 50-50...."




SEE ALSO
Zaccheroni eyes Premiership job
02 May 06 |  Premiership
Alan Hansen's column
15 May 06 |  Football
Tim Vickery column
15 May 06 |  Football


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