Match Preview: FC Barcelona v Arsenal
Barcelona will be looking for their tenth straight Champions League home victory when they host round of 16 FC Barcelona v Arsenal clash on Wednesday.
Arsenal will hope to avoid suffering a humiliating hat-trick of defeats against FC Barcelona who beat them previously in the two-legged ties in the Champions League back in 2010 and 2011.
The Gunners, however, have a real mountain to climb after Lionel Messi’s late brace in the first leg gave Barcelona a 2-0 win in north London – the fourth year in a row Arsenal have been defeated at home in the round of 16 first leg.
Barcelona recovered with a 3-1 FC Barcelona v Arsenal second-leg impressive success in which Messi scored twice. Sergio Busquets had briefly given Arsenal optimism with a 53rd-minute own goal that made it to 1-1 three minutes before Van Persie’s dismissal.
Winners of Group E, Barcelona were one of the only two teams to go through the group stage undefeated and are now looking to reach the quarter-finals encounter for the handsome ninth consecutive season.
The defending champions are on an incredible run of nine straight home wins in the Champions League, including a 6-1 massacre of AS Roma on matchday five.
Their last home reverse in the prestigious competition was the 3-0 defeat to FC Bayern Munich in May 2013 – their only defeat in their last staggering number of36 Champions League home matches, of which an amazing tally of 29 have been victories.
Barcelona overcame Manchester City in the round of 16 in each of their previous two campaigns – each time after winning the first leg in England.
The Gunners are now bidding to reach the quarter-finals following the FC Barcelona v Arsenal match for the very first time since 2010.
They reached the knockout phase for the 16th season running owing to to a 3-0 win at Olympiacos on 9 December.
They had lost three of the first four group games but finished the run as group runners-up thanks to a superior head-to-head statistics against Olympiacos.