Embarassed by Barcelona earlier in the season and ultimately sacked by Real Madrid, maybe Rafa Benitez isn’t the man to listen to.
But what if he is? A highly successful managerial career has seen him win plenty in Spain, and he’s even claimed three European trophies with Valencia, Liverpool and Chelsea.
On a club record 32-game unbeaten run in all competitions, Barcelona are formidable, but Benitez doesn’t think the Champions League tie between Luis Enrique’s men and Arsenal is even close to being a foregone conclusion.
“There is no doubt that Barcelona is playing well with a lot of confidence. But Arsenal have had some good news in the last few weeks,” said the 55-year-old. “Alexis Sánchez is playing regularly and with (Danny) Welbeck coming back that will help their game. If they can keep the ball with these two players up front they will be more dangerous.”
Alexis is fit again but has struggled for form since a hamstring injury in November kept him out for two months. Tuesday is a huge night for him against his former club.
The opposite has happened to Welbeck, who has played around 70 minutes of football in the last 10 days after 10 months out with a knee injury and various setbacks. The England striker has returned and hit the ground running. Though he is expected to be on the bench on Tuesday, he could have a huge say on the match.
Hopefully both players are given the opportunity to perform as we know they can in such a huge game and, once again, they deliver when the pressure is on.