Arsène Wenger

Big guns yet to fire

Arsene Wenger

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We saw in the
first round of matches that the big teams are still not at 100 per cent. The
teams who have been regulars in the competition for 10 years made a slow start,
but took care of the essential business in avoiding costly mishaps.

I feel that
Barcelona, Manchester United and Real Madrid are almost sure to qualify. These
teams were only at 80 per cent of their potential on matchday one.

Only Inter
started really badly, but they already had some bad performances last season.
It seems like a form of hangover from their immense success in 2010 - it seems
like the club is investing less than in the past, perhaps because of the
economic crisis in Italy.

Barcelona's
draw against Milan did not shock me. When you have won everything like Barca
have, it is difficult to give everything for 90 minutes. The players must
rediscover their drive, and it's this sort of result that will allow them to do
that.

If you look at
the stats, Barcelona largely dominated, and you would only worry for them if
they had lost. Milan, for their part, have gained some know-how. The Italians
know how to do a lot with a little, and they profited from Barca's weakness,
using speed on the break and dead balls.

Manchester United
are so used to the Champions League that they give the impression of easing off
the pedal, and you often only see the real United after the group stage. As for
Real, they are looking stronger and stronger. They have more stability than
last year, when they were not far away. The Madrilenos has reinforced more, and
the disappointment of last year has made them even more determined this time
around.

Concerning players,
it is too early judge their individual contributions. Karim Benzema has
nevertheless confirmed his good current for. I wasn't stunned because I always
defended him in France.

He struggled
with self-doubt when he wasn't showing his best form, like any player whose
form is called into question. All the great players I have seen have been
criticised when they are 19 or 20, but when they resist that they come back
stronger.

If they cannot
fight back against it, they disappear. So Benzema is a great player.

Otherwise,
Mario Goetze impressed me with his talent when we played Dortmund; I already knew
him well, of course, above all for his ability to give service to the team.

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