Sunday 25 February 2018

Barcelona v Arsenal - key battles

Arsenal take on Barcelona in the Nou Camp tomorrow night with a slender 2-1 lead looking to secure a place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Here we take a look at some of the key showdowns.

Lionel Messi v Laurent Koscielny

Despite his Carling Cup blunder, French centre-half Koscielny has produced a number of solid displays recently, with arguably his best coming against the Barcelona frontline at Emirates Stadium.

However, just how the 25-year-old will handle the white-hot atmosphere at the Nou Camp remains to be seen. Messi - who netted all four goals in last season's quarter-final romp - remains Barcelona's most potent attacking threat and on another night the brilliant Argentinian could have helped himself to a hat-trick in the first leg.

Xavi v Cesc Fabregas

The battle between Fabregas, expected to return from a hamstring injury to face his old club, and Xavi was one of the highlights of the first leg, as the Catalans squared off in the thick of the action. With Sergio Busquets set to drop back into defence, former Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano could be called into the side, but Xavi will be at the main link man to Barcelona's formidable front three - just as Fabregas will do for the Gunners as well as aiming to bring Samir Nasri's creativity into play as often as possible.

Sergio Busquets v Nicklas Bendtner

With main striker Robin van Persie out injured, young Dane Bendtner could again find himself leading the Arsenal attack in the Nou Camp, where he scored an early goal last season. Bendtner certainly does not lack confidence, backed up by some impressive displays of late including an FA Cup hat-trick, and will bring a testing physical presence for World Cup winner Busquets to deal with as he fills in for injured captain Carles Puyol while Gerard Pique is suspended.

Press Association

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