Barça won and leave London with a 0-2 lead after a demanding game against Arsenal which made it complicated for Luis Enrique's men. They read well the game and stayed strong defensively to not concede and to bring the front three to life, decisive in the counter-attack
A few details of the game:
Large possession time to annihilate Arsenal's impetuosity
It took 15 minutes to Barça to take control of the game. To do so, given Arsenal's bravery who tried to put high pressure, Luis Enrique's men chose to lower the rhythm of the game, think the plays through without risking them. Easy passes and large possessions to calm the game and disconnect Arsenal, much more active to go on the break, and slowly wasting energy without the ball, defending with a 4-4-2. Inspite of the first chances being for Wenger's men during the first 20 minutes (4 shots for Arsenal, 1 for Barça).
Little by little the domination took a blaugrana tint despite the danger caused by Gunners when the ball was lost. Özil was in charge of the Londonian team transitions while Barça was silent in front of the opponent's box, wasting for one of the three players upfront to make the different which didn't happen during the first half.
A 180-minute draw
It seemed at times that Barça was prioritising staying safe to exposing themselves to a coast-to-coast with an uncertain outcome given the quality of Arsenal's forwards. Considering their lack of precision, Barça chose easy passes (90% passing precision for Barça, 72% for Arsenal) and to give time to the Trident to find solutions facing the defense. The best chances came up in the final minutes, with Arsenal struggling in their box, in front of a Barça more and more intense offensively. However, in one-on-one oppositions, not Neymar nor Messi have made the difference against Bellerin and Monreal. The clearest chances happened through collective moves.
The perfect break
The game had to open up, it was almost an obligation. Because Arsenal already tried so in the first half and the difficulty of a second leg in Camp Nou was forcing them to look for the win. And because Barça although aware that the draw is 180 minutes never give up on winning. Intensity, speed and game in the free space to get into the box. The Blaugrana solidity defensively to close out on the attempts of the locals with Giroud as a pivot and the immediate activation to make the opponent's defence back down made the first goal happen to unlock the game. Clearance from Piqué, providential deflection from Iniesta to avoid an Arsenal recovery and a break for the Trident, not really shining in the first half, but decisive in the second, with Messi leading the trio. Neymar sent the ball in Suarez's way, and the latter gave him back as Neymar was in a more central position. The Brazilian got into the box taken on by two men and gave a through ball to Messi who controled calmly, temporised to make Cech fall and scored the goal. The most vertical play of Barça at the best moment. Messi read perfectly at the best moment. Control in the break.
Front pages were all about Messi and the collective credit, with a special attention on the prompt saves of Ter Stegen and the defensive power of Piqué (12 ball recoveries) and Mascherano who, provoked as they were, responded to the challenge at a very high level to keep the clean shit and give opportunities to the attack to end the game. A 0-2 win against a good Arsenal.