Champions League holders Barcelona welcome Arsenal for the second leg of a tie that the Catalans already looked to have wrapped up before the ball is kicked at the Camp Nou.
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Unbeaten in 37 games in all competitions, the current Barcelona team is perhaps rightly hailed as one of the best teams to have played the beautiful game. With the phenomenal triumvirate of Messi, Neymar, and Suarez up front, who have racked up more than 100 goals among them this season, Barcelona look unstoppable at the moment and appear on course to win the treble for the third time in less than a decade.
Even though Arsenal had their fair share of chances during the first leg at the Emirates stadium last month, they could not stop Messi from finding the back of the net with less than 20 minutes to go. The Argentine doubled the tally shortly after as he was brought down in the penalty area by a clueless Flamini, relinquishing whatever faint hopes Arsene Wenger and his team would have hoped to carry into today’s game.
Barcelona will be further strengthened in their belief that Arsenal have never beaten them on home turf, even as Arsene Wenger often likes to remind his critics that his is the only team to have progressed to this stage of the competition since it was reformatted in 2003, according to Bleacher Report.
Speaking at the pre-match conference, Barcelona manager Luis Enrique warned his team against any complacency, even though there was a hint in his monologue which suggested that he expects his team to come through unscathed from the match.
“[The 2-0 win in London] was a good result but it doesn’t change our approach. It is still an open match, our opponents are dangerous and we need to play very well to go through to the next round. Sometimes the match looks perfect because of the result, but there is always room for improvement. That’s why football is so complex — 11 players have to do the same things at the same time. We want to keep the ball as much as possible to avoid counterattacks — it will not be easy, but lately we have being doing that well.”
The Catalans have no fresh injury concerns, but Gerard Pique is set to miss the game after he picked up a late yellow card in the reverse fixture. Jeremy Mathieu might make an appearance for the Catalans ahead of former gunner Thomas Vermaelen, while talisman Luis Suarez is expected to be back in the starting line-up after being rested against Getafe.
You can watch Barcelona vs. Arsenal live online through a number of streaming links, some of which are provided at the end of this article.
Arsenal have endured a torrid time of late, having won only once in their last seven games in all competitions. And as much as Arsene Wenger would want that run to end against the best team in Europe, it seems highly unlikely.
Having said that, Arsenal’s manager is refusing to give up yet, reminding his team that they have beaten the very best in the business in the past, according to Firstpost.
“We want to make the impossible possible. We know we play against a very strong side, and it’s important that we go there and focus and show a very good response.
“We have shown that we can respond always. I think this team has a great spirit, a very strong attitude. They play at the moment with the idea that they cannot afford any [bad] result, but we can deal with that.
“We have a good opportunity to show on Wednesday night that we are up for it.”
Whatever Wenger may say of his team, however, the criticism against Arsenal has started to seriously mount for the first time since the Frenchman has been in charge of the North London club. Arsenal’s fans seem to be equally divided on the issue, with a major section of the fans pleading him to walk out of the managerial position at the end of this term.
Arsenal will hope Laurent Koscielny can recover in time for the clash while Aaron Ramsey is sidelined with an injury. Elneny and Coquelin are expected to start in the middle of the park, while Wenger could be tempted to give paceman Theo Walcott a start at the Camp Nou.
Arsenal have no fresh injury concerns.
American fans hoping to watch Barcelona vs. Arsenal live online can catch it on Fox Soccer 2GO USA, while those wanting to watch it online can watch it by following this link. You can also watch Barcelona vs. Arsenal live online at NBC’s Sports Live Extra, or download the NBC Sports Live Extra app to watch the match on mobile devices.
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[Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images]