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UEFA Champions League: Barcelona to Face Arsenal in the First Knockout Round... Again

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It was meant to be. Barcelona will once again face Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League. The blaugrana will travel to the Emirates Stadium on February 16 and host Arsenal at Camp Nou on March 8. Maybe this time Fabregas will finally return to Camp Nou, after missing last season's match.

On paper, this is an easy draw for Barcelona. Arsenal are a good team, but they can't really compare to this current Barcelona side, as the results in recent seasons prove. Besides, Barcelona are a lot stronger than last season with the addition of David Villa, while Arsenal seem to be weaker and barely managed to advance in the group stage.

On paper, this promises to be a routine round for Barcelona on their way to Wembley. However, as we all know, nothing is certain in football. Arsenal have some quality players who can take advantage of any complacency Barcelona might show. And, of course, there's Cesc Fabregas, who will try to convince Barcelona that he's really worth the absurd amount Arsenal are asking for him.

The Gunners will be motivated, but if Barcelona play at their usual level, it should be enough to win both at the Emirates and at the Camp Nou and calmly advance to the quarter-finals. In last season's second leg of the Arsenal tie, Messi had arguably his finest performance yet, by scoring four goals and completely destroying Arsenal's defense.

Can he do it again?

Even if he doesn't, only a very unforeseen course of events can stop Barcelona from advancing to the quarter-finals. It was a very good draw for the blaugrana outfit.