Another round of the Champions League kicks off on Tuesday with an thriller set up between Arsenal and Barcelona. Arsenal has not had the best of success in the Champions League lately. They have exited in the Round 16 the past five seasons. They are hoping for different results this season, but getting paired with Barcelona might mean that history repeats itself once again.
Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger is aware that the team has an uphill battle ahead of them with a matchup against Barcelona. The team is currently riding a 32-match win streak thanks to the scoring trio of Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi. They have been nearly unbeatable all season long and Wenger is admittedly worried about how his team plans on stopping their attack.
"Looking recently in these big games, in the first tie at home we can't be stupid," Wenger said, via The Guardian. "Many times we've won away and at home we've conceded. We have to find a good balance between defending and attacking. Individually, all their players are difficult to stop. We have to find a way to do it collectively."
Barcelona is not overlooking Arsenal regardless of how the team has looked compared to their squad. The match is on the road for Barcelona so they are aware the crowd will play a factor in London. Manager Luis Enrique has heard what Wenger had to say about his team. Barcelona enters with plenty of confidence thanks to the high play of their trio front line. They have combined for 91 goals this season while Suarez leads the team and La Liga. Still, Enrique expects a battle from both sides.
"He can have his own opinion obviously," Enrique said, via ESPNFC.com. "We are the current Champions League champions and I think it's logical that we are tagged favourites against Arsenal. But being favourites means absolutely nothing. We have to prove our qualities in game after game. And playing away from home is very difficult."
It is no secret Barcelona enters this match as heavy favorites. The team has been nearly perfect all year while Arsenal has seen their ups and downs. Wenger is hopeful that his defense can at least slow them down to get a fighting chance. He believes his team is better equipped to compete this year than in seasons past. They are fresh off a 0-0 draw to Hull in FA Cup play. That is not inspiring the fan base, but Wenger has hope.
"Barcelona are super favourites in this game," Wenger said, via ESPNFC.com. "No team is perfect, although they are not far from it Barcelona, I must say. But we have a good opportunity to show that we have learned. It's true that we gave ourselves a difficult task every time after the first leg [in recent years], maybe because we were too keen to make the difference in the first game."