Pep Guardiola, the Barcelona coach, yesterday warned all his team's pretty football will count for nothing if they fail to overcome Arsenal and claim a place in the Champions League semi-finals.
The defending European champions played some remarkable stuff during the first 45 minutes in the 2-2 draw at the Emirates last week, but they did not manage to score enough goals to put Arsenal out of the tie.
Guardiola remained convinced that if Barça put on another masterclass of the beautiful game, they will progress to the semi-finals. But if they fail to hit the heights again, he fears Arsenal could make them pay, just as they did in the final 20 minutes at the Emirates when Theo Walcott and Cesc Fabregas scored to level the tie.
"I think we play good, we play high level but it was not enough," Guardiola said. "You have to win. To make sense of that performance, you have to go to the semi-finals. That is the most important thing.
"We have to forget the last performance against Arsenal. We have to make it again, play good again. I am convinced if we don't make a good performance, 100 per cent, all 11 players, it will be tough to make it through to the semi-final. I seem to get the feeling it is a very dangerous situation. If we don't put in all our effort we will lose this competition. The team that has more time with the ball will win."
The manner of Arsenal's comeback has ensured Guardiola will not be complacent. He said his team understand the dangers, and will be wary. Guardiola has been criticised in Barcelona for letting Arsène Wenger's side back into the tie, but the Spaniard was at pains yesterday to make it clear that Arsenal deserve credit for their fighting spirit.
"Sometimes when one team scores good goals, it is because they are good players, good teams. No more," said Guardiola, who was far more defensive than his team ever is. "We played not bad in the last 20 minutes. We have to try for 90 minutes, if not Arsenal can make everything in a few minutes. Both teams are good and both teams like to have the ball. They also had a lot of possession and created a lot of danger. We need to go for it.
"We are going to try to win, to be ourselves, to get the ball. I think Mr Wenger thinks the same. We will try to be dominating, dominate a team that wants to dominate. It will be a very attractive game."
Guardiola is likely to charge 19-year-old Bojan Krkic with the task of leading the attack, in the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic who has a calf injury. The Barcelona coach said: "Ibrahimovic is a very important player for us. It's bad news so we need to recover and solve the importance of his absence."Reuse content