Arsenal right-back Héctor Bellerín was superb on Tuesday evening, and he isn’t giving up hope just yet.
The smart money says Arsenal are heading out of the Champions League after losing 2-0 at home against Barcelona, but Bellerín believes we saw enough on Tuesday to say we aren’t too far from the level of the Spanish and European champions.
“We’re going to hope [for a result in the Nou Camp],” said the Barcelona-born right-back in an interview with Arsenal Player after the match. “We’ve shown that we are at the same level if we want to be because we play great football, defend well with a great solidarity and compactness.
“We had more or less the same number of opportunities but the difference was just that they were efficient up front and we weren’t.”
I don’t know if I’d call the visitors efficient – Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suárez all missed decent opportunities – but they were certainly more efficient than us.
Olivier Giroud had a great header saved and Arsenal fluffed their lines a few times in the final third before panicking and leaving themselves exposed on the back. For 70 minutes, though, we matched what is possibly the best team in the world.
“We’ve shown that [the gap between the sides] is not that big,” Bellerín insisted. “The team played some great football and at some point we thought we had the game in our sights.
“You have to give credit to them, though. Now we need to look at the game and see how we can make it better for us.”
Arsenal defended well and created openings, but eventually missed a few chances and threw too many men forward as a result. With the quality they have, Barcelona were always likely to pick us off as soon as we committed to attacking too much.
The return leg is an enormous task now, Barcelona haven’t lost at Camp Nou by two in three years, but Bellerín hasn’t given up just yet.