Playing at home first in yet another Champions League last 16 first leg, Arsenal will be hoping to avoid the mistakes of previous seasons.
Heading out at this stage in each of the last five seasons, but the Gunners claim to have adapted from past mistakes and are ready to sit in and be patient on Tuesday night. Barcelona have three of the best players in the world in their frontline, and if they’re allowed to do us damage the tie could be over before we even travel to Spain.
“I am more concerned about stopping them from scoring because you can say even at home in the Champions League that 0-0 is not a bad score,” Arsenal boss Arsène Wenegr has said.
“Recently we made it always difficult for ourselves by conceding goals at home and basically the rules of the modern European Cup encourage you to defend at home and attack away because of the importance of the away goal.”
In 2013, Arsenal conceded a sloppy third goal to Bayern Munich, meaning our 2-0 win in Germany wasn’t enough and we went out on away goals. Two years ago Arsenal conceded a late goal to Bayern Munich while caught out chasing the game. Going from 1-0 down to 2-0 down, the tie was beyond reach.
But we didn’t learn; last season AS Monaco were the visitors and the Gunners pegged them back to 2-1 late on, only to chase another goal and concede on the break. Another 2-0 away win wasn’t enough after losing 3-1 in London.
Wenger doesn’t agree with the rules, but he realises now that Arsenal cannot risk everything in the first half of a tie.
“Many times I said that should be suppressed because if you concede a goal at home in the Champions League, it’s a knife in your heart every time. Against big, big teams it becomes very difficult.
“I cannot go into a game and think I will just play a zero-zero. I believe you cannot say you are a big club and you just want to defend. On the other hand, Barcelona is a very offensive team.
“So to give you no chance at all to score against them is guilty as well. You have to try to score against them because if they have a vulnerability like we have it is defensively like with any offensive team.”
Whether or not we can have success on Tuesday night will be all about finding the right balance: how do you keep tight at the back but still threaten the best team in the world?