Arsenal v Barcelona
Champions League Match Preview, Prediction & Head to Head
It’s another Champions League blockbuster at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday as Arsenal host Barcelona in the last 16 of Europe’s premier club competition.
GUNNERS HOPING ITS THIRD TIME LUCKY
Arsenal will be hoping its third time lucky against Barcelona having twice been beaten by the Spanish giants in the Champions League. Arsene Wenger’s side are looking to reach the quarter-finals of the competition for the first time since 2010 having reached the knock-out stages for the 16th consecutive season. What the Gunners must try to change however, is their recent home form in last 16 ties which has seen them defeated on the last two occasions in front of their own fans. Having scraped through to this stage of the competition, the side from North London have shown great resilience this season both domestically and in the Champions League and they will need all of their European experience to overcome competition favourites Barcelona over two legs. The fixtures are coming thick and fast for Wenger’s side, who were not aided by Saturday’s 0-0 FA Cup draw against Hull City which means a long trip north for a replay at the most crucial stage of their season. Many observers criticised Wenger’s selection policy at the weekend after he chose to leave the majority of his first-team out of the side; if he gets the right result on Tuesday, he will have been perfectly vindicated.
BARCA JUGGERNAUT KEEPS ON ROLLING
The defending champions eased into to the last 16 of the competition after coming through the group phase undefeated. The Catalan club are looking to reach the quarter-finals for the ninth year in succession and are used to playing Premier League opposition at this stage having beaten Manchester City for the past two seasons. Luis Enrique’s team will take some stopping in their attempt to become the first club to retain European club football’s biggest prize, and with the world’s strongest forward line in Messi, Suarez and Neymar or the “Three Tenors,” it would be foolish for anyone to back against them; the best sports betting sites quote them at *3.25 to be the highest scoring team of this week’s matches and they are an incredible *1.16, to progress to the last eight.
Arsenal go into this game with two of their most influential players, Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil, just one booking away from a suspension. Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla are all out injured and Gabriel Paulista is also doubtful. Striker Danny Welbeck’s return to the side is a huge boost for Wenger, but he is likely to start on the bench at the Emirates.
Barcelona has no new injury worries ahead of the trip to London, with just Rafinha remaining in Spain. Luis Enrique will put out his strongest team on Tuesday, a team that remains unbeaten in their last seven Champions League games. Their devastating attacking trident will be looking to wreak more havoc and the betting exchanges will give you odds of *5.50 on Luis Suarez scoring two or more in North London tomorrow.
Arsenal (from) Cech, Ospina, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal, Chambers, Bellerin, Johnson, Moore, O’Connor, Pleguezuelo, Bola, Gibbs, Arteta, Ozil, Ramsey, Flamini,Coquelin, Elneny, Crowley, Giroud, Walcott, Sanchez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Welbeck, Campbell, Iwobi
Barcelona (from) ter Stegen, Bravo, Douglas, Pique, Dani Alves, Mascherano, Bartra, Alba, Adriano, Alex Vidal, Vermaelen, Mathieu, Rakitic, Busquets, Turan, Iniesta, Sergio Roberto, Samper, Kaptoum, Messi, Neymar, Suarez, Munir, Ramirez
HEAD TO HEAD
The two have met seven times previous with Barcelona holding a commanding 4-1 winning lead. Their most famous meeting was in the final of 2006 in Paris, where Barcelona came from behind to win 2-1. The most recent confrontation took place at this stage in 2011; with the Gunners winning their home leg 2-1 only for the Catalan’s to turn the tie around at the Camp Nou, winning 3-1 on the night, 4-3 on aggregate. Arsenals record against Spanish clubs reads **P29 W10 D7 L12, Barcelona’s against English opposition reads **P64 W28 D19 L17.
Arsenal 5.00 Draw 4.20 Barcelona 1.70
*odds courtesy of Bet365
**key to symbols: P (Played) W (Won) D (Drawn) L (Lost)
By: Steve Mitchell