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UEFA Champions League

  • 8 March 2011
  • • 19:45
  • • Camp Nou, Barcelona
  • Referee: M. Busacca
  • • Attendance: 95486
3
FT
1

Barcelona win Aggregate 4 - 3

Barcelona - Arsenal Preview: Favourites aim to stretch unbeaten home run to 21 games and prevent Gunners completing revenge mission

Barcelona - Arsenal Preview: Favourites aim to stretch unbeaten home run to 21 games and prevent Gunners completing revenge mission

PROBABLE LINE-UPS
Barcelona: Valdes; Dani Alves, Milito, Abidal, Maxwell; Xavi, Sergio Busquets, Iniesta; Villa, Messi, Pedro.

Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny, Djourou, Clichy; Diaby, Wilshere; Nasri, Fabregas, Arshavin; Bendtner.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Barcelona were unbeaten in their first five Champions League meetings with Arsenal, drawing two and winning three - including the 2006 final and last season's quarter-final second leg, when a 4-1 win secured a 6-3 aggregate victory.
  • This season they won each of their three home fixtures in Group D, beating Panathinaikos (5-1), Copenhagen (2-0) and Rubin Kazan (2-0), topping their section for the fourth consecutive year and qualifying from the initial group stage for the ninth successive campaign in which they've taken part.
  • Barcelona have won 11 ties in Uefa competitions after losing the first leg away from home – but they've lost the other 12, including last season's Champions League semi-final, when a 1-0 victory over Inter at the Nou Camp wasn't good enough to overturn a 3-1 first-leg defeat in Milan.
  • On Saturday Barcelona's 1-0 home win over Zaragoza in La Liga not only maintained their seven-point lead over Real Madrid at the top of the table, it also extended their unbeaten home run in all competitions to 20 matches.
  • Pep Guardiola's side are without first-choice centre-backs Carles Puyol (injured) and Gerard Pique (suspended) for the Arsenal clash, but in Lionel Messi they boast a player with 46 goals from 44 games for club and country so far this season. The Argentine also netted all four Barca goals when Arsenal were the visitors last season.
  • Arsenal have qualified for the Champions League in each of the last 13 seasons. This is the 11th successive time they have progressed beyond the initial group stage, and in four of the last five campaigns they've reached at least the quarter-finals.
  • The Gunners have won the first leg at home on 15 occasions in Uefa competitions, going on to win the tie on aggregate no fewer than 14 times. Their one defeat - in the 2000-01 Champions League quarter-finals - was against La Liga opposition, a 2-1 home win over Valencia being followed by a 1-0 defeat in Spain and elimination on away goals.
  • Arsenal were joint-top scorers in this season's Champions League group stage with 18 goals - the same number as their arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
  • Arsenal's first leg victory over Barca was their 99th win in their 200th match in Uefa competitions, and Andrey Arshavin's winner their 197th Champions League goal.
  • Unbeaten in their last four away games in all competitions, Arsenal stretched their unbeaten Premier League run to 11 matches (seven wins, four draws) at the weekend with a 0-0 home draw against Sunderland, maintaining their record of not conceding in the opening 15 minutes of any Premier League game this season.

LAST MEETING


February 16, 2011: Arsenal 2-1 Barcelona

The Gunners earned a stunning first ever victory over Barca, showing resilience and verve at the Emirates to bounce back from the visitors' mesmeric passing game and David Villa’s first-half goal which looked for a long time to have settled the issue.

Wojciech Szczesny pulled off some impressive saves to ensure a comeback remained within the realms of possibility, before late goals from Robin van Persie (78th minute) and substitute Andrey Arshavin (83rd) duly secured a valuable first-leg lead.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
12Víctor ValdésGoalkeeper
21AdrianoDefender
22Éric AbidalDefender
16BusquetsMidfielder
22Daniel AlvesDefender
8Andrés Iniesta LujánMidfielder
14Javier MascheranoMidfielder
6XaviMidfielder
7David VillaStriker
10Lionel MessiStriker
7PedroStriker
13José Pinto ColoradoGoalkeeper
-Bojan KrkicStriker
-Seydou KeitaMidfielder
15Gabriel MilitoDefender
17MaxwellDefender
20Ibrahim AfellayMidfielder
6Thiago AlcántaraMidfielder
1Wojciech SzczesnyGoalkeeper
22Gael ClichyDefender
5Johan DjourouDefender
6Laurent KoscielnyDefender
3Bacary SagnaDefender
7Tomas RosickyMidfielder
24A. DiabyMidfielder
4Cesc FàbregasMidfielder
10Jack WilshereMidfielder
8Samir NasriMidfielder
20Robin van PersieStriker
1Manuel AlmuniaGoalkeeper
15DenilsonMidfielder
18Sébastien SquillaciDefender
10Andrey ArshavinMidfielder
27Emmanuel EboueDefender
29Marouane ChamakhStriker
17Nicklas BendtnerStriker
Players to Watch
Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 10
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
The best player in the world at the moment, the phenomenally talented little Argentine virtually beat Arsenal on his own last season, and will still be wondering how he failed to score at the Emirates last month. Now he will be seeking to resume normal service.

He has promised that Barca are fully focused on progressing and not contemplating elimination, and he will be testing the Gunners to the limit in front of his home crowd as he sets about trying to add to his staggering haul of goals. His speed of thought and feet can embarrass any opponent who is not 100% alert.
Jack Wilshere
Jack Wilshere
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 10
Games Goals YC RC
2 0 0 0
The teenage midfielder was by general consent the man of the match in the first leg, more than holding his own in exalted company. That will have made him a marked man for the return, so the Camp Nou encounter will no doubt provide a searching test of Wilshere's character as well as his technical ability.

So far in his short career he has taken every challenge in his stride and impressed with a potent mix of competitiveness, composure and class. With Catalan skipper Cesc Fabregas just returning from injury, there will be a burden of expectation on the shoulders of Wilshere - who shrugged off a knock himself at the weekend to make the cut for this game.
Prediction
Arsenal will fear being swept aside by another display of sumptuous attacking football by Barca, as they were at Camp Nou 11 months ago at the quarter-final stage - when Lionel Messi ran riot with a sublime four-goal, five-star performance.

But the Gunners showed at the Emirates in the first leg this time that they had learned lessons from last season's 6-3 aggregate defeat, and they go into the decider buoyed by their 2-1 lead, though without some key players. Barca too will be missing some familiar faces in central defence.

The Gunners' own suspect defence is likely to be breached, but the game will probably hinge on whether the visitors can get on the score-sheet again. They may well lose, but could yet squeeze through on away goals if their attackers can make up for Robin van Persie's enforced absence.
Editor's Prediction

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