A huge night of Champions League action as Arsenal host Barcelona. Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) gives us his view.
Arsenal v Barcelona | Tuesday 19:45 | BT Sport Europe
For the third time in six years Arsenal face Barcelona in the Champions League and for all the positivity surrounding the club this season this test will take them to another level.
It’s all good and well winning the weakest English Premier League in years but can you knock brilliant Barcelona out of the Champions League? Of course you can’t, but maybe you can nick something here.
When it all clicks for Arsenal they can be a formidable opponent. Earlier in the competition they beat Bayern Munich against the odds at the Emirates.
The previous season they salvaged a draw in Munich against the same opponent in the Last 16 and of course they beat Barcelona in North London five years ago.
Similar to, umm, Scotland they tend to raise their levels against superior opponents and I expect them to put in a good show tonight.
Last year they had a disaster at home in the Last 16 when losing 3-1 to Monaco. Everyone expected them to win that night, no one expects them to succeed here and that could aid their cause.
What can you say about Barcelona? They look as destructive and as dominant as the famous 2011 side under Pep Guardiola. Perhaps this version isn’t as fluent but it’s just as jagged.
They’re the defending champions, they’re eight points clear at the top of La Liga, they’ve won 13 of their last 14 matches and haven’t lost a game since early-October. Impressive eh?
Are there flaws? Well, they dropped points away at Roma and Bayer Leverkusen in the group stages and even though they dominated Man City at this stage last season the scoreline was respectable for the English side. Despite their open approach Barcelona only breached them three times over the two legs. Hey, it’s something for Arsenal to cling to!
I’m expecting a strong Arsenal performance as history suggest their players tend to raise their levels on occasions like this. Whether that’s enough to take anything from the game is debatable.
Barcelona have scored in 40 of their 43 matches this season and it’s hard to imagine they won’t notch here in North London. I’m sure Arsenal can follow suit, Saturday’s home blank against Hull was very much the exception to the rule.
Arsenal v Barcelona – Barcelona to win and Both Teams To Score (9/4 Betfair)
Arsenal v Barcelona – 2-2 Draw (15/1 BetVictor)
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