Fabregas reveals Euro final dream
Cesc Fabregas has not given up all hope of making a dramatic return for Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League final.
The Gunners captain was ruled out for some six weeks after suffering a small crack in his right fibula during the clash with Barcelona, when he was clattered by Carles Puyol and went on to smash home the resulting penalty to level the tie. While Fabregas will play no part in the remainder of the regular campaign, there is a very slim chance if everything goes well with his rehabilitation that the Spaniard could be in contention to lead his side out in Madrid on May 22, were Arsenal to progress all the way to the final.
While that in itself seems more hope than genuine expectation given the way Arsene Wenger's youngsters were taken apart by the tournament favourites during the opening stages, Fabregas continues to dream. "Now the recovery starts - and who knows, if I work hard and we reach the Champions League final, maybe I could play a part in it, but of course we must take things step by step," he said in the official Arsenal matchday programme.
"For the next three or four weeks, I cannot do anything and am on crutches. I will go to Barcelona to watch the team in the second leg, and will probably stay in Spain for a couple of weeks until I come back to London for another scan."
Hoping for a long shot
Fabregas believes Arsenal can upset the odds and make it through against the Spanish giants after gaining great confidence from the way they fought back to level the tie, having trailed 2-0. "I do not think many teams would have been able to come back from that situation, especially the way Barcelona were playing, so we can be proud of that," the Arsenal captain said.
"I spoke to a few of their players afterwards and even though they got a very good result at the Emirates, they felt it was good for us because of how things went. Barcelona know they could have killed it off, but they didn't so we are still in it," Fabregas said. "They were a bit surprised at how the game went because they were a bit scared of how we can play, they did not expect to get that much freedom. I think it will be a different game on Tuesday."
Gunners boss Wenger, meanwhile, knows his side cannot lose concentration for a moment if they are to get the result needed out of what will be an intimidating Nou Camp. "My biggest regret is that we gave two cheap goals away - that is what we must control better in the second leg," said the Arsenal manager. "You never think you would concede to simple long balls against Barcelona. That's where we were killed - a lack of co-ordination at the back and, I must say, weakly exposed."
"During the first half, I was trying to tell the players that we were giving Barcelona too much space, too much room to play in. We were too stretched and were not complete in our defensive planning," Wenger said. "We were not pressing high up, we were in between and that is the worst against a team who passes the ball so well. Barcelona were quick to close us down when they lost the ball, yet we were so slow to close them down - that was the major difference."