It seemed inevitable that Arsenal were going to pull out Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League once again when the draw was made in Monaco.
The upcoming meeting will be the third time the two sides have met in a Champions League tie in the last six years, with both of the previous encounters being won by the Spanish giants.
Barcelona have been priced up at the time of writing at 1/5 to qualify for the quarter-finals in the UEFA competitions betting. They are flying high in La Liga as they are level on points with Atletico Madrid but topping the table on goal difference.
The defending Champions League winners will be difficult to beat over two legs but here are some reasons as to how Barcelona can be beaten and why there is some hope for Arsenal.
No side has ever defended the Champions League
In the Champions League era, many have tried but failed in their bid to defend the Champions League title, including some of the best Barcelona sides of the past couple of decades.
Such is the quality of Europe’s premier competition that it is a huge feat to go on a run of two campaigns of avoiding defeat in the knockout stages of the tournament. It only takes one off night for any side in the world to slip up and it could be against Arsenal in the last 16.
Bayern Munich victory
The opening leg between Arsenal and Barcelona is going to prove pivotal in this tie. The Gunners have to take an advantage to Spain otherwise it is very difficult to see them progressing to the quarter-finals.
Arsenal proved they are capable of beating any side in Europe on their day when they defeated Bayern Munich 2-0 in the group stage of the competition earlier in the campaign. A repeat of that scoreline would give them a huge advantage ahead of the return encounter.
The Gunners were able to raise their game against the German champions and weren’t intimidated by the quality of the opposition managed by former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola.
When you look at the best players in the world at the moment on current form, Mesut Ozil’s name has to be mentioned among the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez.
The German extended his number of assists to 13 in the Premier League when he set up Aaron Ramsey against Aston Villa. He is now just seven shy of the record in one season, which is currently held by former Arsenal legend Thierry Henry.
If Ozil can maintain his form, he should be able to create opportunities against this Barcelona team which is not renowned for its defending.
Just a few weeks ago, Olivier Giroud was struggling to make the starting XI for Arsenal. However, given his rich run of form, Arsene Wenger will struggle to drop the Frenchman ahead of the big game against Barcelona.
Giroud’s hat-trick in Greece against Olympiakos ensured the Gunners made it through to the last 16 and if he continues to keep up his goalscoring run, he may be able to help his side find the goals they need against the holders of the competition.