Last 16: Ex-Gunner Alex Song hopes Barca will draw Arsenal
Arsene Wenger will be hoping it's Malaga or PSG rather than the old enemy Barcelona
WITH just 24 hours to go until the Champions League draw takes place, former Arsenal midfielder Alex Song is hoping he gets paired alongside his old club in the Last 16. The Cameroon international left the Emirates for Barcelona in a £15 million move in the summer, and when the draw is made in Nyon, Switzerland, tomorrow morning he’d love to learn he’ll be facing Arsenal in February.
As well as beating the Gunners in the 2006 Champions League final, Barcelona eliminated them from the competition in 2010 and 2011. "I would like to play against Arsenal," admitted Song. "If we draw Arsenal I’d be happy to see the fans again, go back to the club, even though if we go there it will be to get the best result possible."
Song left Arsenal in controversial circumstances, with rumours alleging Arsene Wenger was happy to see the back of a player who was unprofessional in much of his behaviour. Though Song says he had seven enjoyable years at the Emirates, he couldn’t resist a dig at his former employers.
"Arsenal’s a big club but I think Barcelona’s a level above because of the talent of the players there," he said. "I think the Barcelona players are above [Arsenal’s]. I saw a lot of people come and a lot of people go at Arsenal."
So what is the likelihood of Arsenal facing their bête noire in the Last 16? As runners-up in group B, the Gunners will face a group winner although not the top team in their own group [Schalke] or a club from their own Football Association [Manchester United]. That leaves one of Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Paris St-Germain, Malaga, Borussia Dortmund and Juventus as their opponents.
In an ideal world the Gunners would get either Malaga or Paris St-Germain, but knowing Arsenal’s luck of late they’re just as likely to land the Spanish giants or one of the German powerhouses.
The draw holds fewer terrors for United although the Premier League leaders – winners of Group H – could be drawn against AC Milan or Real Madrid. Then again, they could also find themselves playing Celtic, Valencia, Porto or Shakhtar Donetsk.
As United manager Alex Ferguson waits for the draw he can enjoy the reaction given to the publication of a Harvard Business School case study on his leadership techniques.
The study, which was published yesterday, has met with Ferguson’s approval and he hopes it will dispel a few myths about his managerial style. "If you look at my history, there’s all this hype about hair-dryers and anger and so on," he told the HBS having read the report. "But the students acknowledged another side to it, which is more apt in terms of how I have fostered relations with people and developed the team over the years.
"The reality is not always how the press portray it. I felt the students were quite accurate in terms of how they analysed this aspect, questioning and recognising this important dynamic of management."