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Barcelona poised to finish off Arsenal in Champions League

Barcelona leads Arsenal 2-0 heading into the second leg in the Champions League on March 16.

By: AP | Barcelona |
March 15, 2016 7:10:34 pm
UEFA Champions League, Champions league, Barcelona vs Arsenal, Arsenal vs Barcelona, barcelona, Arsenal, Lionel Messi, Suarez, Neymar, Football news, Football Barcelona’s awesome three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar have scored 103 goals between them this season. (Source: Reuters)

Barcelona has just about everything in its favor.

The Catalan club leads Arsenal 2-0 heading into the second leg in the Champions League, boasts one of the best attacking lineups in history with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, and is riding a Spanish record unbeaten streak of 37 games across all competitions.

Still, Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta called on his teammates to maintain their focus for the match at Camp Nou.

“We have a good result, are playing at home and have everything going for us,” Iniesta said, “but we know our rival is dangerous.”

Here are some more things to know about Wednesday’s match:

TRIPLE THREAT

Barcelona’s awesome three of Messi, Suarez and Neymar have scored 103 goals between them this season.

Suarez leads the way with 42, followed by Messi’s 35 _ despite missing nearly two month injured _ and Neymar with 23.

The only flaw in their intimidating attack is their perplexing lack of aim from the penalty spot.

Messi erred for the fourth time this season during a 6-0 rout of Getafe on Saturday. Neymar has also missed four times from the spot, and Suarez twice more.

That may mean Arsenal’s slim chances of pulling off an upset rest of praying that somehow, someway the match arrives to a shootout.

IF HISTORY MATTERS

All the precedents point to Barcelona moving on.

Seeking a 10th consecutive home win in the Champions League, the Catalan club has never lost in Europe after getting a 2-0 away win in the first leg. Of its last 36 home matches in Europe’s top tournament, Barcelona has won 29, drawn six and lost only once, to Bayern Munich in 2013.

The last loss anywhere in any competition came on Oct. 3 at Sevilla. The team’s last loss at Camp Nou was against Malaga in February 2015.

A look backward only gets bleaker for Arsenal, whose last victory on Spanish soil came a decade ago.

The English club lost the last two times it faced Barcelona in 2010 and 2011, in addition to the 2006 final. It has also never overturned a first-leg home loss in European competition.

“I think we have maybe a 5 percent chance to qualify,” Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny said.

WHEELS COMING OFF

Lose in Barcelona and Arsenal’s last realistic route to a trophy will be over and the anger toward manager Arsene Wenger will intensify.

“We cannot afford to concede against Barcelona,” Arsenal center back Per Mertesacker said. “We have to go there and try to attack, no matter what.”

Only a strong showing against the Spanish champions can help the mood around Arsenal.

This season, Arsenal had the perfect platform to dominate in England with Chelsea in decline and Manchester rivals United and City in erratic form. But Wenger has seen Leicester and Tottenham race ahead of Arsenal in the title hunt.

“You know we are in a difficult period and we need to stay like a unit to be stronger,” Koscielny said. “We will fight until the end of the season.”

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