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Would Barcelona Win a Hypothetical Penalty Shootout Against Arsenal?

Are Barcelona's famous penalty woes their Achilles' heel?

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Atletico Madrid were drawn into an unexpected penalty shootout against PSV Eindhoven after drawing two matches. Atleti were the overwhelming favorites, but PSV improbably hung around.

The shootout was madness. Atletico went 8-for-8. PSV went 7-for-8 and lost. Neither goalkeeper made a save - PSV's lone miss hit the bar.

Arsenal has two realistic avenues to taking the tie back from Barcelona after the Blaugrana's 2-0 win at the Emirates. One is winning by two on away goals, say by 3-1. The other is by winning 2-0 and forcing a penalty shootout.

And that penalty shootout is a big concern. Compare PSV and Atletico combined 15-for-16 shootout and Barcelona's record of 10-for-20 this season. None of Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez have been consistent from the spot.

On the other hand, Arsenal's record isn't all that stellar, either. In the Premier League, their record is 50%, just like Barcelona's. The trouble is the sample size is too small to say if it's any sort of trend. They're 1-for-2, Olivier Giroud scoring one, Santi Cazorla missing the other.

Gerard Pique was unfazed when asked about Barça's penalty trouble. "In important games, when things are on the line and we have to score them, we will score them," he said.

Will it? There's a certain gut feeling that maybe he's right. Lionel Messi, for all his troubles with spot kicks, has scored the majority of the important ones - bar that one against Chelsea. He scored in shootouts at the World Cup, at Copa America 2015 - twice - and Copa America 2011. He scored two against Milan in the same Champions League knockout match in 2012. There are simply many more examples of him scoring in pressure situations than missing.

Luis Enrique will hope the same is true of Suarez and Neymar. And he has other options to choose from - Ivan Rakitic has experience as a main penalty taker, and Pique and Andres Iniesta for example have good records, despite not many attempts.

And well, if all else fails - maybe Barcelona will just win games before any shootout is needed.

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