Big Match Feature: Barca v Arsenal

Barcelona will be looking for a tenth straight Champions League home win when they host round of 16 rivals Arsenal on Wednesday.

Arsenal will hope to avoid suffering a hat-trick of defeats against Barcelona who beat them previously in two-legged ties in the Champions League in 2010 and 2011.

The Gunners, however, have a mountain to climb after Lionel Messi’s late double in the first leg gave Barcelona a 2-0 victory in north London – the fourth year in a row Arsenal have lost at home in the round of 16 first leg.

When the teams met in the 2010/11 round of 16, Arsenal came from behind to win the first leg 2-1, Robin van Persie and Andrey Arshavin overturning David Villa’s first-half goal.

Barcelona recovered with a 3-1 second-leg success in which Messi scored twice. Sergio Busquets had briefly given Arsenal hope with a 53rd-minute own goal that made it 1-1 three minutes before Van Persie’s dismissal.

The lineups for that second leg on 8 March 2011 were:

Barcelona: Valdés, Dani Alves, Busquets, Abidal, Adriano (Maxwell 90), Xavi, Mascherano (Keita 88), Iniesta, Pedro, Messi, Villa (Afellay 82).

Arsenal: Szczesny (Almunia 19), Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Wilshere, Diaby, Rosický (Arshavin 73), Fàbregas (Bendtner 78), Nasri, Van Persie.

The previous season Messi had hit all four Barcelona goals in a 4-1 second-leg quarter-final triumph over Arsenal. Arsène Wenger’s men had given themselves hope in the first leg by coming from two goals down to draw 2-2 through Theo Walcott and Cesc Fàbregas (penalty).

Barcelona beat Arsenal 2-1 in the 2006 final at Stade de France with Samuel Eto’o and Juliano Belletti scoring late on to overturn Sol Campbell’s strike for an Arsenal side who lost Jens Lehmann to a first-half red card.

Luis Enrique scored in both matches when the clubs met in the 1999/2000 first group stage. The Barcelona coach found the net in a 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou and again in a 4-2 win at Wembley.

Match Background
Barcelona

Winners of Group E, Barcelona were one of only two teams to go through the group stage unbeaten and are now looking to reach the quarter-finals for the ninth consecutive season.

The defending champions are on a run of nine straight home wins in the Champions League, including a 6-1 rout of AS Roma on matchday five.

Their last home reverse in the competition was the 3-0 loss to FC Bayern Munich in May 2013 – their only defeat in their last 36 Champions League home matches, of which 29 have been victories.

Barcelona overcame Manchester City in the round of 16 in each of the previous two campaigns – each time after winning the first leg in England.

Barcelona’s overall home record against English clubs is W17 D11 L2.

In two-legged ties against English opposition in Uefa competition, their record is W13 L10.

As well as overcoming Arsenal in the 2006 Champions League final, Barcelona also beat Manchester United FC in the 2009 (2-0) and 2011 (3-1) finals. They lost to United in the 1991 European Cup Winners’ Cup final (1-2).

Barcelona have progressed 35 out of the 37 times they won the away first leg in Uefa competition, most recently against Paris Saint-Germain in last season’s quarter-finals. Those two failures came against 1. FC Köln in the 1980/81 Uefa Cup first round (1-0 away, 0-4 home), and FC Metz in the 1984/85 European Cup Winners’ Cup first round (4-2 away, 1-4 home).

Barcelona’s shoot-out record in Uefa competition is W5 L1:

5-4 v KKS Lech Poznan, 1988/89 European Cup Winners’ Cup second round
0-2 v FC Steaua Bucuresti, 1985/86 European Cup final
5-4 v IFK Göteborg, 1985/86 European Cup semi-final
4-1 v RSC Anderlecht, 1978/79 European Cup Winners’ Cup second round
3-1 v Ipswich Town FC, 1977/78 Uefa Cup third round
5-4 v AZ Alkmaar, 1977/78 UEFA Cup second round
Arsenal

The Gunners are bidding to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2010.

They reached the knockout stage for the 16th season running thanks to a 3-0 win at Olympiacos on 9 December. They had lost three of their first four group games but finished as group runners-up thanks to a superior head-to-head record against Olympiacos.

Arsenal lost the first leg at home in each of their three previous last-16 ties – against Bayern (2013, 2014) and AS Monaco (2015).

Arsenal have never overturned a home first-leg defeat in European competition. Aside from those losses to Bayern in both 2012/13 (1-3 home, 2-0 away) and 2013/14 (0-2 home, 1-1 away) and Monaco last season (1-3 home, 2-0 away), they have lost only one other such match, against VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach in the 1996/97 Uefa Cup first round; then they went down by the same 3-2 scoreline away from home.

It is ten years since Arsenal last won in Spain with a 1-0 success at Real Madrid in the 2005/06 round of 16. Thierry Henry scored the goal.

Arsenal’s overall away record against Liga opposition is W2 D3 L8.

Arsenal have won five of their eight previous two-legged ties against Spanish clubs in Uefa competition. Their last success was a 4-1 aggregate quarter-final victory over Villarreal CF in 2008/09.

Aside from the 2006 loss to Barcelona, Arsenal have also lost European finals against Real Zaragoza (1995 European Cup Winners’ Cup) and Valencia CF (1980 European Cup Winners’ Cup).

Arsenal’s shoot-out record is W2 L2:

7-6 v AS Roma, 2008/09 Champions League round of 16
1-4 v Galatasaray AS, 1999/2000 Uefa Cup final
3-2 v UC Sampdoria, 1994/95 European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final
4-5 v Valencia CF, 1979/80 European Cup Winners’ Cup final

Coach and player links

As coach of Monaco, Wenger suffered home (0-1) and away (0-2) defeats by Barcelona in the 1993/94 group stage.

Alexis Sánchez made 141 appearances for Barcelona (2011–14), scoring 47 goals. His honours with the club included the 2012 Copa del Rey and 2013 Spanish title.

With Chelsea, Petr Cech faced Barcelona in two Champions League semi-finals, losing in 2008/09 – when beaten by a last-minute Andrés Iniesta goal – but winning in 2011/12. He also faced them twice in the round of 16, winning in 2004/05 but losing in 2005/06.

The first leg was the first time Messi had scored past Cech in the seventh meeting between the pair.

Mesut Özil faced Barcelona 16 times as a Real Madrid player (W4 D6 L6), including a 1-0 victory in the 2011 Copa del Rey final. He scored against them in the first leg (2-2) of the 2011 Spanish Super Cup but was sent off in the second leg (2-3).

Nacho Monreal was sent off playing for Málaga CF in a Copa del Rey tie at Barcelona in January 2013. He won only one of ten matches against the Azulgrana with CA Osasuna and Málaga, suffering seven defeats.

Santi Cazorla scored after two minutes of Villarreal’s 3-1 Liga victory over Barcelona in October 2007. His overall record against the Blaugrana with Villarreal and Málaga was W2 D2 L9.

Cazorla faced Claudio Bravo when his Spain side – also including Jordi Alba, Busquets and Iniesta – had their 2014 FIFA World Cup elimination sealed by a 2-0 reverse to Chile.

Héctor Bellerín started out in Barcelona’s youth academy before joining Arsenal in 2011. Mikel Arteta is another graduate of La Masia but left in 2001 for a loan spell at Paris Saint-Germain before signing for Rangers FC.

Luis Suárez scored twice in seven meetings (W2 D2 L3) with Arsenal as a Liverpool FC player – in a 2-0 away win in August 2011 and a 2-2 away draw in January 2013.

Thomas Vermaelen played for Arsenal between 2009 and 2014, making 110 Premier League appearances.

Players who have played together:

Santi Cazorla & Jordi Alba, Marc Bartra, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Piqué, Andrés Iniesta (Spain) Mesut Özil & Marc-André ter Stegen (Germany) Laurent Koscielny, Olivier Giroud & Jérémy Mathieu (France) Alexis Sánchez & Claudio Bravo (Chile)


Match Facts
Barcelona

Piqué serves a one-match suspension. Arda Turan returns from a ban.

Barcelona are a Spanish record 37 matches unbeaten (31 wins) in all competitions since a 2-1 loss to Sevilla FC on 3 October.

Messi, Suárez and Neymar have scored 103 goals between them in all competitions this season following a 6-0 mauling of Getafe CF on 12 March – in which Messi also missed a penalty. The 100 mark was reached on 6 March, when Messi struck twice and Suárez once in a 4-0 success at SD Eibar.

Arda registered his first goal for the club in the 5-1 victory over Rayo Vallecano on 3 March; he scored his second against Getafe on Saturday.

Rafinha (knee), injured on matchday one, was ruled out for six months after undergoing surgery on 22 September.

Arsenal

Joel Campbell, Giroud, Monreal and Özil are a booking away from a ban.

The 4-0 victory at Hull City on 8 March in an FA Cup fifth round replay was Arsenal’s first win in six matches. They lost 2-1 at home to Watford FC in the quarter-finals on 13 March, ending their two-year hold on the trophy.

The Gunners have lost four of their last seven matches in all competitions.

Per Mertesacker (cut), Gabriel (hamstring) and Aaron Ramsey (thigh) all went off injured against Hull. Ramsey came on as a substitute himself, replacing Gabriel just before the hour, but lasted only 16 minutes. Mertesacker and Gabriel recovered to play 90 minutes against Watford, but Ramsey missed out altogether.

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