Arsenal FC defender and French international Gael Clichy has promised to stop Barcelona star Lionel Messi destroying Arsenal’s Champions League dreams at Emirates Stadium tonight.
The Barcelona striker has been in imperious form this season — he has scored 34 goals which has earned him the label of the best player in the world - and the 22-year-old Argentine could prove the difference in north London.
But Clichy, who is likely to be responsible for marking Messi should he play in his customary right-wing position in the quarter-final first leg, told the Evening Standard:
“Messi is a great player but even great players have their bad days.
“It is true he can produce moments of amazing quality and do things that make other players look ordinary but we have to make him look ordinary and I am sure we can do that.
“A team like Barcelona have great players all over the pitch so you can never just focus on one threat.”
Arsenal’s task tonight will be made harder if Cesc Fabregas fails a late fitness test on his knee.
Manager Arsene Wenger has vowed to give his midfield captain as long as possible to recover in time to play against his former team. But Clichy insists that the Gunners should not fear their task, with or without Fabregas.
Barca have not lost an away game in the competition proper since defeat at Manchester United in April 2008.
Wenger’s side have never beaten them in three previous attempts — most notably in the 2006 final — but Clichy said:
“We don’t have to fear anyone because we are a great team.
“This is a proper taste of the Champions League because you want to play against the best foreign teams like Barcelona. By this stage, every team are a good team and you have to be at your best from now on to win the trophy.
“Everyone wants to win the Champions League and over two games, anything is possible. Everyone was saying that Real Madrid would beat Lyon and they lost so these things can happen.”