The reigning European champions are playing host to Arsenal in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League last-16 tie aiming to seal progression to the quarter-finals of the elite competition after a huge 2-0 triumph in London in February.
Lionel Messi’s double was enough for the Catalans to dispatch Arsenal in London three weeks ago and Luis Enrique’s men are determined to repeat another strong performance at their Camp Nou in order to make an additional step towards the title. Barcelona are shoe-in the quarter-finals and almost an entire step closer to becoming the first side ever to retain the Champions League trophy since the competition’s debut season in 1992. The Catalans are currently enjoying a 37-match unbeaten run and Barcelona are heading into the clash with Gunners buoyed by another positive result at the weekend. Blaugrana defeated Getafe 6-0 with Neymar marking his return to the team with a brace against the lowly opposition. The MSN trio has reached the 100-goal mark last week, but the latest win over Getafe has seen the tally rise to 103 goals between Messi, Suarez and Neymar, who are sharing an incredible season. Barcelona have been a real joy to watch this season and the home supporters are sure in for another exciting duel on Wednesday.
Gerard Pique has picked up a one-match ban during the dying minutes of the first match and his booking caused a great deal of controversy as it was speculated that Barcelona defender got the yellow card on purpose.
Sandro Ramirez has a tear in his abductor muscle and will be forced to sit through the game, while Rafinha remains the long-term absentee.
Arsene Wenger’s men will try to avoid a second cup exit in just four days at Camp Nou as Gunners are heading to Spain on the back of their FA Cup 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Watford. Arsenal are experiencing a serious dip in form that saw them lose four of their six matches in all competitions and win only one during that period. French manager is once again under great pressure and calls for his departure are getting louder every day. Gunners have a game in hand in the domestic championship, but are still eleven points away from the top-seated Leicester City. Having already suffered a great blow to their Premier League title chase, Arsenal are on the verge of the UEFA Champions League exit which would make their entire season utterly disappointing. Gunners believe in miracles and won’t be going to Spain with a white flag as they attempt to overturn a 2-0 deficit and reach the quarter-finals of the competition for the first time since 2010. Gunners have lost their last four matches against Barcelona and a win on Wednesday would be considered a huge feat for Wenger’s men.
Arsenal are ready to welcome back Laurent Koscielny to the starting line-up as the French defender shook off his calf problem, while Hector Bellerin is also expected to return at right-back.
However, Tomas Rosicky, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Santi Casorla and Petr Cech are all missing out through injury.
Key Factors to Consider
- Barcelona are currently on a 37-match unbeaten run in all competitions
- Catalans progressed through on 35 of 37 occasions when winning the first leg
- Arsenal lost four of their last six matches across competitions
- Gunners have never beaten Barcelona at Camp Nou
- Catalans are unbeaten in the Champions League this season
Despite their huge advantage from the first leg Barcelona are not expected to slow down in the second leg. Luis Enrique’s men are going from strength to strength and are keen on recording another win that would additionally boost their morale in the closing stages of the competition.
Verdict: HT/FT Home win
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