Barcelona v Arsenal Champions League Match Preview, Prediction & Head to Head
ENRIQUE URGES CAUTION AHEAD OF CAMP NOU CLASH
His team may be in a commanding position after the first-leg of this Champions League last 16 tie, but Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has urged his team to remain focused on the job in hand on Wednesday evening. The defending champions are looking for their 10th straight home win in the competition and will be looking to continue their unbeaten run in this season’s tournament. The last team to beat Barca on their own patch was Bayern Munich back in 2013, and the Blaugrana’s formidable record at defending first-leg advantages in Uefa competition will make frightening reading for Arsenal fans; the Catalan giants having progressed 35 times out of the 37 occasions they have brought a lead back home with them. Enrique will be hoping to guide the club to their ninth consecutive Champions League quarter-final.
CALLS FOR WENGER TO GO AS THE GUNNERS KEEP MIS-FIRING
A month ago, Arsenal was still in with a chance of winning the treble. Now they find themselves 11 points behind Premier League leaders Leicester City, dumped out of the FA Cup by Watford last Sunday, and now have to turnaround a two-goal deficit at the Camp Nou against the best club side in the world. Amidst all this, coach Arsene Wenger is trying to remain positive despite calls for him to step down at the end of the current campaign. For four years in succession, the Gunners have lost the home first- leg in the round of the last 16, it looks like this blow will be another they’re unlikely to recover from. If they are to get through to their first quarter-final since 2010, not only will they have to win in Spain for the first-time in 10 years, they will have to achieve something that they have never achieved before; overturn a first-leg defeat in a European tie.
Gerard Pique is suspended for the defending champions after his sending off in the first-leg, so its likely Jeremy Mathieu will deputise in the centre of defence. Rafinha and Sandro Ramirez are both out through injury. It’s pretty much guaranteed that Enrique will stick to his tried and trusted 4-3-3 formation and that devastating frontline of Messi, Suarez and Neymar. If punters fancy a 3-0 win for Barca, the best football betting sites are offering odds of *9.00.
In keeping with Arsenal’s recent ill fortune, the infirmary is once again filling up with Tomas Rosicky, Petr Cech, Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Santi Cazorla all out injured. Chilean Alexis Sanchez will return to the Camp Nou for the first-time since he left Barcelona in 2014. If you’re confident he will score on his return, the betting exchanges will currently offer you odds of *5.00 for him to be an anytime scorer in 90 minutes.
THE CAMP NOU SQUADS
Barcelona (from) ter Stegen, Bravo, Douglas, Dani Alves, Mascherano, Bartra, Alba, Adriano, Alex Vidal, Vermaelen, Mathieu, Rakitic, Busquets, Turan, Iniesta, Sergio Roberto, Samper, Kaptoum, Messi, Neymar, Suarez, Munir,
Arsenal (from) Ospina, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal, Chambers, Bellerin, Johnson, Moore, O’Connor, Pleguezuelo, Bola, Gibbs, Ozil, Flamini, Coquelin, Elneny, Crowley, Giroud, Walcott, Sanchez, Welbeck, Campbell, Iwobi
HEAD TO HEAD
The two have met eight times previously, with Barcelona holding a commanding 5-1 winning lead. Their most famous meeting was in the final of 2006 in Paris, where the Catalan’s came from behind to win 2-1. Arsenals record against Spanish clubs reads **P30 W10 D7 L13, Barcelona’s record against English opposition looks like this **P65 W29 D19 L17.
Barcelona 1.22 Draw 7.00 Arsenal 11.00
*odds courtesy of Paddy Power
By: Steve Mitchell