Arsenal braced for Barcelona backlash

London: Arsenal will man the barricades Tuesday in anticipation of a Barcelona backlash while hoping that their second Champions League visit to the Nou Camp in less than a year will be less harrowing than the first.

In last April`s quarter-finals, the London side went to Spain full of hope after a 2-2 draw at home. They even took the lead only to be shredded by Lionel Messi who scored four times to earn his side a 6-3 aggregate win.

This time, Arsene Wenger`s team have gone one better after a smash and grab raid in north London when Messi was strangely profligate by his own stunningly high standards.

Quite what the Argentine magician has up his sleeve this time only he knows, but Arsenal, like their north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Ukraine`s Shakhtar Donetsk will have genuine belief that they can reach the quarter-finals.

Tottenham`s first Champions League adventure continued last month with a memorable 1-0 victory in the San Siro against seven-times winners AC Milan and they will be favourites to finish off the Italians at White Hart Lane Wednesday.

Shakhtar also claimed an away victory in the first leg, 3-2 at Roma, when three goals by three different Brazilians put them firmly in charge. The other tie to be decided this week is Schalke against Valencia after the first leg ended 1-1.

Since those late goals by Robin van Persie and Andrei Arshavin stunned Barcelona at the Emirates, the Gunners have suffered a surprise League Cup final defeat by Birmingham City and Saturday were frustrated by Sunderland in a 0-0 draw.

Bureau Report

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