Arsenal vs Barcelona: Match Preview, Lineups, Tactical Setup, Key Battles and Prediction


Arsenal vs Barcelona
Champions League Round of 16
Venue: Emirates
Kick-off Time: 23 Feb; 7:45 PM (BST)

Arsenal fans must be wondering what wrong have they done to suffer the horrific fate in Champions League knockout rounds in recent seasons. In four of the last five seasons, they have been knocked out at this very stage and it has been either Bayern Munich or Barcelona, doing the damage.

This time around, Barcelona will be the opponents for Arsene Wenger’s men and the same question will be asked, “Can Arsenal do the unthinkable’?

Arsenal vs Barcelona Tactical Preview

To be fair on the Gunners, they have done well against Barcelona at Emirates, but have failed to build on those results at Camp Nou. Back in 2010-11 season, Arsenal did manage to beat Barcelona 2-1 at home, but surrendered the advantage as Catalans came back hard at Camp Nou with a 3-1 win.

Arsene Wenger needs a win at home tomorrow night, and then he must look to make the most of the situation. Perhaps one way to do that would be to batter MSN out of the game. Pretty football has not worked for Gunners so far, perhaps a more destructive way of playing might do the trick for them.

Arsenal vs Barcelona Predicted Starting XI

Arsenal starting XI – Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal, Coquelin, Ramsey, Chamberlin, Alexis, Ozil, Walcott

Barcelona starting XI – Ter Stegen, Alves, Mascherano, Pique, Alba, Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta, Messi, Suarez, Neymar

Arsenal vs Barcelona Tactical Preview
              Arsenal need to find the answer to this stunning trio

Arsenal vs Barcelona Tactical Setup

Arsenal are like the Barcelona of Premier League, where Gunners are used to play with the same pass-and-move temp like their Spanish rivals. One thing will be certain tomorrow night is that, arsenal will not have much of the ball.
That is why, the work they do off the ball will be a key factor in deciding the eventual result of this match.

Barcelona will be at their usual best, and that is where Arsenal will have come in and disrupt their tempo. They cannot let Luis Enrique’s men play at their pace. Players like Francis Coquelin will have to make their presence felt by making early tackles to set the tone for his team and bring the crowd in to the game.

Barcelona would rely on the unbelievable front trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar to do what they have done throughout the season – to score goals.

Their movements and understanding of each other’s game is second to none. Arsenal will have to refrain from overloading bodies to target one of the three forwards. They all are equally dangerous and need to be stopped at all cost, if Arsenal want anything out of the game.

Arsenal vs Barcelona Key Battles

Francis Coquelin vs Ivan Rakitic

These two could find themselves going against each other in the epic midfield battle that awaits us. Rakitic loves to wonder around the pitch, and spread passes for his teammates.

Coquelin must time his challenges to perfection and try to take Rakitic out of the game. If the Serbian will be allowed to dictate the tempo, it could be a long night for Arsenal players.

Lionel Messi vs Nacho Monreal

Arsenal are blessed in a way that if any Premier League left-back can stop Messi from dominating this tie then it has to be Nacho Monreal. The Spaniard has been in fine form this season, and has the maturity to not lunge in  to tackles and over commit himself to the attacking forward.

Having said that, Monreal would need to get over that Leicester game where he was killed by Riyad Mahrez. That must have been a small lesson as to what the Arsenal left back can expect while going against the argentine superstar.

Arsenal vs Barcelona Prediction

This is a tough one to predict as Arsenal have the talent to beat any team in the world on a given night. Barcelona will not be an easy game for them, but I have this funny feeling towards the Gunners pulling this one out of the bag. Predicted Scoreline Arsenal 2 Barcelona 1

Image credit: getty