Defending Champions Barcelona sit comfortable on a two goal lead from first leg when Arsenal visits Camp Nou for the second leg of the Champions League knock-out round of 16 on Wednesday.
Two second half goals from Messi end Arsenal’s resistance and handed Barcelona a 2-0 win at the Emirates, which put them on a strong position to advance to the quarter finals. The Gunners know well that they have a mountain to climb when coming against a Barcelona side who are on a run of nine straight home wins in the UEFA Champions League.
Barcelona together with Real Madrid are unbeaten in this season’s Champions League. They have won their last nine matches at home and their last defeat at home was a 3-0 loss to Bayern Munich in May 2013. This is their only defeat at home in 36 Champions League matches, out of which 29 have been wins.
Arsenal haven’t reached the Champions League quarter finals since 2010 and were eliminated in the knock out round of 16.
They have lost three matches in the group stages of this season’s competitions and managed to qualify as second best team on the basis of a superior goal difference against Olympiakos.
Arsenal’s overall form looks pretty poor after losing four of their last seven matches in all competitions.
Barcelona: Team News
Gerard Pique is suspended for this tie for accumulating yellow cards in the tournament. While Rafinha and Sandro are sidelined through injury.
Arda Turan will be available for selection after serve his one-match ban and could start here.
Barcelona Predicted Line-up (4-3-3)
Ter Stegen – Alves, Alba, Vermaelen, Mascherano – Arda, Rakitic, Iniesta – Messi, Suares, Iniesta.
Arsenal: Team News
Aaron Ramsey, Petr Cech, Santi Cazorla, Rosicky and Wilshere remains sidelined for the Gunners.
Mertersacker and Gabriel are minor doubts, but Wenger is hopeful that the defensive duo will be fit enough to start this crucial tie. While Laurent Koscienly is also nearing return from his injury.
Arsenal Predicted Line-up (4-2-3-1)
Ospine – Bellerin, Monreal, Mertersacker, Gabriel – Elneny, Coquelin – Sanchez, Walcott, Ozil – Welbeck.
Arsenal vs Barcelona: Head to Head
Arsenal and Barcelona have met each other six times in the Champions League, and the La Liga club were victorious on 4 occasions, there has been a draw and one Arsenal win.
The teams were drawn together in the round of 16 in 2010/11 season and quarter finals of 2009/10, in both occasions Barcelona knocked out Arsenal on aggregate.
The most prolific clash between the two sides was in the 2006 final at Stade de France where Barcelona beat Arsenal 2-1. Sol Campbell’s strike for Arsenal was overturned by late goals from Samuel Eto’o and Juliano Belletti, in a match which witnessed Arsenal reduced to ten men after their goal keeper Jens Lehmann picked up a red card in the first half.
Barcelona vs Arsenal: Prediction
Arsenal are on the verge of another Champions League exit in the same knock-out round for the fifth consecutive season. While Barcelona are looking for their ninth consecutive Champions League quarter finals.
There is a huge gap between the quality of talents on paper and Barcelona are miles ahead of their Wednesday’s opponent. Moreover, Arsenal’s form in recent times is poor and they stand very little chance to overturn the two goal deficit from the first leg loss.
My Prediction for the match is 2-1 in favour of Barcelona.