Both Daniel Alves and goalscorer David Villa believe FC Barcelona were the superior team in their 2-1 defeat at Arsenal FC and will prove it when the tie concludes at Camp Nou.
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David Villa promised that FC Barcelona would be fresh and raring to go when they attempt to overturn Arsenal FC's UEFA Champions League round of 16 first-leg advantage in three weeks' time.
It was Villa's crisp 26th-minute finish that had given the visitors a deserved lead before goals from Robin van Persie and substitute Andrey Arshavin turned the match on its head in the final 12 minutes. The 29-year-old forward believes his side did not come away from north London with the result their efforts deserved, but nonetheless praised Arsenal for their speed and wit.
"We played a good game and created a lot of chances," said Villa. "But we were up against a great team in Arsenal who caught us on two counterattacks and hurt us.
We were the better team, but there's still 90 minutes to go and we can save ourselves in that time."
The Spanish international, whose goal was his ninth in 20 UEFA Champions League appearances, thinks a return to domestic matters will help Josep Guardiola's men regroup after such an intense match. "Now we have a break in this competition and we must focus on the league, but we have the team and the players to come back into the tie."
Team-mate Daniel Alves concurred with Villa's optimism, while recognising that, on the balance of play, an opportunity had been missed to take a lead back to Camp Nou. "We are still very positive," said the attacking full-back. "
This was a game we could have killed off, but the second half of the tie is yet to come." The world had waited with bated breath for this contest ever since the draw was made in December, and Alves agreed that the opener had met those lofty expectations. He said: "This first game was a great game for the fans, though we lost it because we didn't take our chances."
The Brazilian international dismissed the idea that Arsenal's superior physical power lay behind their late surge. "We're feeling good," he added. "Things happen and circumstances change quickly in these sort of games – [playing in] Europe is different. We had opportunities but we didn't manage to make the most of them. Now we'll play hard to stay in the competition."