With the La Liga title pretty much wrapped up, Barcelona fans are allowed to fully concentrate on the UEFA Champions League. An important step towards defending the European crown is defeating or at least eliminating Arsenal in their Round of 16 second leg encounter at Camp Nou this Wednesday. The Blaugrana already own a great advantage after scoring two away goals in London, and their job gets even easier with the litany of injuries hitting the Gunners lately.
Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger is more than accustomed to dealing with contusions and knocks ever since he joined the North London giants two decades ago, and he has to cope with a number of physical problems again. Some of the most important squad members are out of the game, and the Gunners will have some serious blows to their rotation as they head to the Catalans' home on Wednesday.
But it's not just the Gunners who have to deal with their injuries, as Barça are also missing players of their own at Camp Nou. Here's a list of the injured and suspended going into this week's game:
|Gerard Piqué (Barcelona)||Suspended (yellow card)||Out|
|Rafinha Alcântara (Barcelona)||Knee||Out|
|Sandro Ramírez (Barcelona)||Thigh||Out|
|Petr Cech (Arsenal)||Calf||Out|
|Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal)||Calf||Doubtful|
|Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal)||Knee||Out|
|Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)||Thigh||Out|
|Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)||Calf||Out|
|Thomas Rosicky (Arsenal)||Knee||Out|
|Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)||Knee||Out|
|Mikel Arteta (Arsenal)||Calf||Doubtful|
In total, Wenger has seven players definitely out, including keeper Cech and defender Koscielny, the two best players on the Arsenal defense. Ramsey and Cazorla and giant on the midfield, and Chamberlain had a good game against Barça on the wings in the first leg.
Luis Enrique only needs to replace Piqué in terms of a key first team player. Rafinha is a long-term absence, although he is now close to making his return, and Sandro is a bench warming player who doesn't have many minutes.
When it comes to absences, Barça have the advantage. Just like the aggregate score and the overall quality of the squad. So yes, Barcelona is the favorite on Wednesday.