Champions League Knockout Stage Preview and Predictions: Arsenal vs Barcelona

Arsenal’s form is in question but their 1-0 defeat by Chelsea last month remains their only loss of the calendar year. They have shown up for big matches and international football pundits are upbeat in their chances to get past the last-16 stage for the first time in six years.

Barcelona have won the Champions League in four of the last 10 seasons while no other club has won it more than once in the same period. They could become the first team since AC Milan to win back-to-back European Cup/Champions League titles. The Rossoneri did it in 1989 and 1990.

Arsenal vs Barcelona

How they got here:
Arsenal finished 2nd in group F behind Bayern Munich and qualified in with a match day 6 victory on the road in Greece needing a victory of 2 goals or more versus Olympiacos and did so with a 3-0 victory. Barcelona took the easier route in winning group E with 4 wins and 2 draws while scoring 15 while only allowing 4 goals through their 6 matches.

Previous Meetings:
These two have met numerous times in European play and have met twice in the knockout stages of Champions League recently (2014 and 2015) with the Spanish side coming away victorious in both ties. Some interesting facts for the English side here is their record in ties versus Spanish sides is 5 and 3 and they sport a very good record at home with 8 Wins 2 Losses and 3 Draws against Spanish La Liga sides. Barcelona have almost double the amount of ties versus English opponents in European play with a almost even record of 13 victories and 10 losses but will be looking to reach the quarterfinals here for the 9th consecutive year.

Current Form:
Barcelona’s form is excellent at this moment with 11 wins and 2 draws since Match Day 6 allowing only 5 goals in those 13 matches and never more than 1 in a match. Arsenal come in with 6 wins 2 losses and 3 draws since Match day 6 though only 1 victory in their last 5 and that came in FA Cup play.

Odds: To Advance — Arsenal +440 Barcelona -541

Odds: Leg 1 — Arsenal +356 Draw +307 Barcelona -125

Predictions:
Barcelona come in as large favorites to make it to the quarterfinals for the 9th consecutive season but the thoughts in this corner are that Arsenal will put up a decent fight on home ground in Leg 1 similar to their match during group play at home versus a strong Bayern Munich squad. I’d expect the trio of Messi, Neymar and Suarez to receive some aggressive defending as Arsenal will defend with some force. If the trio are able to break through for the all important away goal the task becomes all that more difficult for the English side. The opinion here is that Barcelona wins this two legged tie but we’ll expect an Entertaining and physical Leg 1.

Barcelona to Advance at -541 Draw +307 in Leg 1. We’ll add that the first half Under has value at Under 1 1/2 if that line is still readily available.

 

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