When everything fails, revert to Plan A - Give the ball to Messi

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So is Barcelona finally hitting a slump? A draw against Gijon, a defeat at London against Arsenal and a very hard earned win against Bilbao, at home, on Sunday. Well, yes and no. There’s no doubt that Barcelona haven’t been looking ‘Barca’ like in recent matches. It’s impossible to play like a super galactic team twice a week. Even Guardiola makes mistakes, and players are getting worn out, little by little.

On the other hand, slumps for Barcelona are different than on other teams. Same goes for Real Madrid. Teams at that quality, with so many top-notch players, playing way above the level of their league and most teams in Europe can’t be in long slumps. It’s impossible for them not to start winning eventually, convincingly or not.

Arsene Wenger said (before the Leyton Orient match) that his team is gunning for the quadruple this season. I have no doubt they’ll get by Leyton, but I just don’t see them beating United for the Premier League title or getting by Barcelona. Arsenal will come to play at the Nou Camp, and the game will probably look more like the first half at the Emirates than the second one. Unless some heroic displays at goal, I don’t see Arsenal coming out of Barcelona with the needed result.

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On to this week matches – Real Madrid beat Levante in unconvincing fashion 2-0 this Saturday and face the team that never seems to get to excited about the Blancos and their past European dominance. Lyon are coming after a very impressive 4-0 win over Nancy this weekend, including this incredible Jimmy Briand goal which got less hype because he’s not named Wayne Rooney –

In general, Lyon do well at home against Real Madrid – three wins in Real’s last three visits, and of course the very memorable 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu last year, with Miralem Pjanic scoring the goal that put Lyon in the next stage.

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Inter will clash with Bayern Munich in a re match of the 2010 Champions League Final. Having Arjen Robben back, it seems that Bayern are back and clicking again, although it is probably too late to catch up with the surging Dortmund in the Bundesliga. Inter have been in good form since Benitez left the team, but the overall feeling is their return to the title race has more to do with the overall weakness in the Serie A than the ‘amazing’ change brought by Leonardo, a comfortable “yes man” for Moratti.

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United? Again, problems with injuries and another unimpressive at best performance against Crawley Town, beating the non-league side 1-0 thanks to a Wes Brown goal. United haven’t been playing in a way that satisfies the critics all season but that hasn’t stopped them from grabbing a comfortable lead at the top of the Premier League. It won’t stop them from getting by Marseille, who just don’t have enough quality to get by the Red Devils.