Barca vs. Arsenal
Venue: Nou Camp
Kick off: 8:45pm
Arsenal will embark on what seems to be “mission impossible” when they travel to 37-game unbeaten Barcelona on Wednesday (today) looking to overcome a 2-0 first-leg deficit in the last-16 stage of the Champions League.
A double from Lionel Messi has placed the Spanish giants in firm control of the tie as Luis Enrique looks to lead the reigning champions into the final eight of the competition for the ninth consecutive season.
Arsenal need to score at least twice at Camp Nou to stand a chance of staying in the tie, but only Bayern Munich (3-0) have beaten Barcelona in Spain by at least two clear goals in their last 12 Champions League appearances.
Add in the fact that the Spanish giants are chasing their 10th straight home win in this competition makes it even more unlikely that the visitors will be able to upset the odds this week.
There is also the small matter of Barcelona’s 37-game unbeaten run in all competitions, which stretches back to the start of October.
Since then, they have won the Club World Cup, reached the Copa del Rey final and opened up an eight-point lead at the top of the La Liga table.
Fifteen goals have been registered in their last three matches and they are currently on an eight-game winning run in all competitions.
The incredible trio of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar already have 103 goals between them this season and Arsenal, realistically, will have to keep a clean sheet on Wednesday to stand a chance of progressing.
Nothing in football is impossible, but it is very, very difficult to see a route back for the Gunners.
Arsenal, alongside Real Madrid, are one of just two teams to have reached the knockout round of the Champions League every season since the new format came into being in the 2003-04 season. While that record is impressive, the Gunners have been eliminated in the round of 16 in each of their last five campaigns.
Realistically, Arsenal’s season could be over this weekend if they were to exit to Barcelona and then lose at Everton in the league on Saturday afternoon.
The pressure is firmly on Wenger once again and it will be fascinating to see whether he chooses to rest players ahead of the trip to Goodison Park.
Barcelona possible starting lineup: Ter Stegen, Alves, Mathieu, Mascherano, Alba, Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta, Neymar, Suarez, Messi.
Arsenal possible starting lineup: Ospina, Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Elneny, Welbeck, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud.