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HomeChampions LeagueArteta blames Messi's 'individual quality' for Arsenal's recent Champions League woes

Arteta blames Messi’s ‘individual quality’ for Arsenal’s recent Champions League woes

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta attributes the team’s inability to progress beyond the Champions League last 16 since 2010 to the individual brilliance of Lionel Messi.

During his tenure as a player, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta experienced five consecutive seasons where Arsenal was eliminated at the last 16 stage, a trend that persisted the season before his arrival in 2011 and continued after his retirement in 2016, resulting in seven successive exits at the first knockout round.

Now, as the manager of Arsenal preparing for their first Champions League knockout game in seven years against Porto, Arteta refutes the notion of any psychological barrier.

“Yeah, and someone called Messi,” he replied when asked if a mental block had been a factor. “And Bayern Munich as well – this competition is where it is, individual quality.

“It’s extremely important because sometimes it comes down to details, you are through or you are out, and you have to be really prepared and you need your players at their best when the occasion arises, and for sure, we’re going to need that.”

In 2011, Arsenal managed to secure a 2-1 victory over Messi’s Barcelona in the first leg at home. However, Messi’s stellar performance at Camp Nou led Barcelona to a 4-3 aggregate victory. In 2016, Arsenal, with Arteta in the side, faced Barcelona again, but Messi’s three goals over two legs propelled Barcelona to a comfortable 5-1 overall win.

Arsenal faced defeats in the last 16 against AC Milan (2012) and Monaco (2015), while Bayern Munich eliminated them from the competition at the same stage in 2013, 2014, and 2017.

These setbacks marked the beginning of a six-year absence from the Champions League. Arsenal’s return to the competition came after mounting a Premier League title challenge in the 2022/23 season, ultimately finishing second.

Ethan Dempsey
Ethan Dempsey
Ethan is a lifelong football fan. When he is not obsessing over the Premier League games, Ethan likes to read fantasy tomes, watch football documentaries and waste hours upon hours on video games.
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