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Wednesday Kickoff: Arsenal vs. Barcelona

Messi (Getty Images)

When Arsenal appears to be on the brink of breaking through in European competition, one club always seems to get in the way. FC Barcelona.

Perhaps the most anticipated UEFA Champions League knockout stage tie gets underway Wednesday in London, with Arsenal and Barcelona renewing their European rivalry (2:45 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel). The clubs, linked together by classic matches, Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabregas, will meet in the Champions League for the third time since 2006.

The Spanish side has had the better of the previous meetings, capturing the 2006 Champions League title at the Gunners' expense and rallying from a second-leg deficit in last year's quarterfinals behind a four-goal effort by Lionel Messi.

Here are highlights of Messi's epic performance from a year ago:



How do you see today's match playing out?

Share your thoughts and predictions below.


  1. Great news for Arsenal that Nasri is able to start — he’s been their best player this year. Need to take the game to Barca like Spurs did to Milan yesterday. If they sit back and yield possession, it could get ugly.

  2. And yet all my Arsenal friends are telling me Alemunia should start as he has experience at this level.

    Either can pick the ball out of the back of the net so they’ll be okay.

  3. CH, don’t forget that Fabergas came through La Masia before Arsenal poached him so unlike Macherano he knows how to play within Barca’s system. He is also a much better player than Macherano. If Barca was successful in trying to get him last year, they would have rotated Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets and Fabergas as starters, a luxury they don’t have now. I would agree with you that Xavi and Iniesta are better than Fabergas (and Busquets is a different type player with different responsibilities), but the drop off is not huge, and Xavi/Iniesta/Busquets could use some games off to rest. By the way, they rested Busquets in the last La Liga game to have him fresh for the champion’s leauge fixture. Barca has a very busy schedule: La Liga, Copa Del Rey, Champions league and the last thing they want to see is to have their key players tired or injured for key fixtures at the end of the season.

  4. Palacios with Spurs, Suazo just returned to training with Inter, Hernandez at United, and Christian Bolanos at FC Copenhagen

  5. I will agree with you that Fabergas is more creative than Sergio Busequets, but I don’t think that you can fault Xavi and Iniesta for lack of creativity. By the way, Xavi and Iniesta were the runners up for the most recent Balon D’Or, which was won by Messi, another Barcelona player.

  6. You sound right on the Barca absences. As I recall Arsenal was out

    van persie
    arshavin (probably Arsenal’s best player at the time)
    ramsey (who was playing extremely well last year)

    To sum it up they had Sol Cambell on defense,Bendtner at forward, and Diaby in the center of the park. That is the weakest Arsenal team I have ever seen in my short time as a fan.

  7. Who came in the world cup final and made the winning assist? Fabergas continually comes on and breaks down defensives for Spain.

    Fabergas is used by Spain for added offense and to take advantage of tired defenses. I think he is on the bench because the other midfielders are “safer” due to their defensive presence. But for my money Fabergas is the most creative of the bunch. And he is allowed to go anywhere on the pitch. That said they For me the best 3 in the world. I don’t rate any of them higher, only different.

    Also the Barca players play together all season, so there is a familiarity that is a huge asset.

  8. You would think that the EPL snobs would keep their mouths shut for at least 1 game after the game last year. i mean if arsenal win then you can talk but after last years game i’d be quiet til the games are over, boy was it hilarious to hear andy gray say “barcelona are light years ahead of arsenal” cause its true. and like others have said nobody on arsenal could start on barca

  9. I’m not sure how much it matters, and I’m definitely not picking a fight over it, but I can’t imagine Abidal running down Dani Alves, Pedro, or Messi.

  10. Not in the posted game, you didn’t….

    But in all seriousness, Arsenal was starting Diaby, Rosicky (who I think is horrible), Bendtner, Silvestre, and Denilson in that game. They can’t do much worse….

    …wait, you say Barca was without both Pique and Puyol? Never mind. 5-3 Barca on aggregate.

  11. “Arsenal’s best player (Fabregas) sits on Spain’s bench behind Barcelona’s midfield.”


    I repeat this all of the time. It amazes me that the Captain and best player cannot crack Spain’s starting lineup.

  12. Just remember this.

    Arsenal’s best player (Fabregas) sits on Spain’s bench behind Barcelona’s midfield.

    It’s kind of scary, to be honest. Barca has the best international striker in the world and Messi. They have the best midfielders in the world. They have two of the best defenders in the world.. and Dani Alves.

    How did this team get so unbelievably stacked?

  13. Nah, Barcelona was missing their CBs for the second match, if I remember, and Iniesta for both? Somebody can correct me.

    Puyol being missing is somewhat like Fabregas being missing for the second game last year. The captain, and in this case, the heart of defense. Abidal is the fastest player on the team, so if he’s moved center, the LB will be slower than him. Otherwise a midfielder gets dropped to CB. If Milito plays there, wow, great news for Arsenal.

  14. Vela is no longer at Arsenal, he was loaned out to West Bromvich Albion of the EPL, Giovanni Dos Santos is no longer at Tottenham he is on loan at Racing de Santander in La Liga. His younger brother Jonathan is still at Barca but he hasn’t played with the 1st team too much or at all this year, I believe just some minor minutes in the Copa Del Rey match when they won 2-0 I think vs a 3rd division team. Only Thiago I believe has earned some major minutes and League minutes, Nolito might of gotten some in Cup play after they won like 8-0 in the 1st leg of semifinal. Same for the other Jonathan so not sure little Dos Santos will see CL time.

    People always forget about this guy, Bryan Ruiz probably up there with Clint Dempsey, Chicharito as best of CONCACAF or best striker/scorer. He’s with Twente, no longer CL but Europa?

  15. Thats a lazy comment by people who dont know about arsenal at all. Arsenal’s goalkeeping situation has been worked out for months now and there shouldnt be any problems

  16. Can we list the Arsenal Players injured for last years game. I know injures are part of Football, but I think Barca had one stubbed toe and arsenal was just short of 10 of their top 15 injured.

    Hopefully they do better with an actual first team squad on the field.

  17. Rivalries generally refer to the teams’ history together, not how they’re playing today. So yes, regardless of what Barca does to Arsenal’s backline, it is a rivalry.

  18. This should be goooood. Arsenal has been looking a bit shaky lately, though they’ve delivered some stunning performances. Barca is just not human this season. Leaning more towards the Gunners, but I’m just happy that I’ll get to watch 90+ minutes of really beautiful soccer.

  19. Is lil’ dos santos still with Barca? Big’ dos santos with Tottenham? Vela with Arsenal?

    Not sure who might have been loaned out though during the last window.


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