Here at Barca Blaugranes we have been looking forward to this game since, well the last one, and we figured that this epic game deserves all of our attentions. So here's how we see it going:
This is Barcelona's season defining game. If they win they still have a chance for the treble. If they don't, Arsenal will get the revenge they were looking for and a very good chance to go all the way this season.
As we (probably) all know the first game ended with the score of 2-1 in favor of Arsenal. Just as last year Barcelona allowed then to fight back in the final minutes of the game to leave themselves with a more difficult return game than they hoped for. But this match up is far from over.
The Gunners will be missing several players, including Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott. Cesc Fabregas is officially also questionable, but I have a feeling that it is just a smoke screen by coach Wenger. He did it with Nasri before the first leg and I see no reason he wouldn't do it again. Following Saturday's game we can also add Jack Wilshere to the questionable list, so Wenger might be to forced to make more changes than he wants to.
The biggest question on Barcelona's side is who will play defense. While the right side is set with Alves, Barca fans can only hope Puyol will be really by Tuesday to play in the middle. The other spot will almost certainly go to Abidal, because Piqué is suspended and well Milito is just Milito. The left side will be manned by either Adriano or Maxwell, but neither has been very effective lately.
Messi again figures to be the key to Barcelona advancing and even if he plays just half as well as he did last year at Camp Nou there will be no doubt who will advance to the next round. However, Arsenal will give their best as they almost certainly said goodbye to their Premier League title on Saturday.
There is no reason to expect anything less than what we saw in the first leg, meaning terrific, fast flowing football and chances on both sides. This game has the potential to be one of the better ones of the season so get ready people.
Whatever you planned to do on Tuesday night that didn't involve the Champions League should be cancelled. Who cares if you were going to meet the Pope or Barack Obama. Barcelona face the biggest challenge of the Guardiola era in the return leg against Arsenal.
All the omens still point to progression for Barca, but who knows? Valdes is back, as is Puyol (please God let Puyi recover!)
Barca strolled to a 1-0 versus Zaragoza and rested key players. Arsenal struggled to a draw at home to Sunderland and even added to their injury crisis. In that crisis expect it to be a reason if Barca win, or a heroic effort by the war heroes if Arsenal win.
However, last seasons encounter was the Messi show and I foresee a similar fate on Tuesday. La Pulga didn't score versus Zaragoza so is damn near certain to score, Villa has hit form, Pedro is always dangerous and oh yeah! Arsenal can't defend. Koscielny cost them the league cup and Wenger said he was destroyed by it.
So, all looks good for Arsenal there then!
Arsenal will put a valiant effort and without RVP, Wilshere, Song (possibly), Walcott, Vermaelen it will be even more impressive, but the full strength Blaugrana team will simply prove too strong and the Camp Nou crowd will be treated to another master class.
After all, the last time Guardiola sent out a team to face the leaders, it was 5-0.
This game will define the Catalans, it needs to be won, or else the team cannot go down as the best of all time. If that isn't motivation enough, I don't know what is, Messi could equal Ronaldo's record (again) with a replica of his performance last year, I just hope that there is no repeat of the complacency that has been shown previous against Arsenal.
Whatever happens, it promises to be a classic and make sure you follow it here at Barca Blaugranes and our Live Game Thread!