Arsenal and Barcelona meet at the Emirates Stadium in what is sure to be a thrilling encounter.
Everything you need to know about the Champions League Round of 16 match as Arsène Wenger’s side take on the reigning champions…
Here is a quick guides into all you need to know ahead of the match.
1. Star Man on each team
Arsenal will be relying heavily on the mercurial talent of playmaker Mesut Ozil to unlock the Barcelona defence. The 27-year-old has provided 17 assists in the Premier League so far this season and Wenger will hope he can transcend that over into Europe – starting on Tuesday.
As always for Barcelona four-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi will be their main danger. He’s netted three goals in as many appearances in the competition this term and has scored 80 times overall.
2. Recent head-to-head record between the two teams
Look away Arsenal fans. Barcelona are yet to taste defeat over two legs against the Gunners.
The teams met at the same stage of the competition during the 2010-11 season with Barcelona prevailing 4-3 on aggregate. Despite Arsenal winning the first leg at home 2-1, the Spanish side overturned the deficit to win 3-1 in the return fixture at the Nou Camp.
The season before that, in 2009-10, Barca also dumped Arsenal out of the last-16 stage and broke their hearts by defeating them 2-1 in the 2006 Champions League final too.
3. The Gunners have to arrest an alarming trend
Arsenal have been knocked out of the Champions League in the last 16 for five consecutive years. The likes of Bayern, AC Milan and Barcelona have been their nemesis.
4. Petr Cech’s personal battle with Lionel Messi continues
The best player in the world failed to score against Petr Cech while the goalkeeper was between the sticks for Chelsea. Not once did he get one past the giant Czech in the 6 matches the two have faced each other.
The Arsenal goaltender will hope to continue that streak with his new side.
However, in just 4 matches against Arsenal, Messi has banged in an incredible 6 goals and one assist.
5. Arsenal are in confident form
Since the turn of the year, Arsenal have lost only one of their nine matches in all competitions.
That defeat came against bitter rivals Chelsea in the Premier League but otherwise their top-flight form has been impressive. Beating Leicester 2-1 at home on February 14 sees the Gunners just two points adrift of them at the top of the table.
6. Barcelona are even in a more imperious form
Barcelona have been in sensational form this season and sit eight points clear at the top of La Liga after beating Las Palmas 2-1 on Saturday. Luis Enrique’s side are unbeaten in 32 league and cup games.
Of the 15 games played in 2016 in all competitions, Barcelona have won 13 of those, drawing two. Among those include emphatic victories against Athletic Bilbao (6-0 – La Liga), Valencia (7-0 – Copa del Rey) and Celta Vigo (6-1 – La Liga).
7. The man at the centre
39 year-old Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir will be in the middle for the match.
He’s no stranger to the Champions League having made his debut way back in September 2010.
Çakır on that rookie night took charge of the group D fixture between Rubin Kazan and Barcelona, a game which ended in a one all draw.
Another high profile game the Turk has officiated was the 2012 Champions League semifinal between Barcelona and Chelsea at Camp Nou. Çakır sent off John Terry in the first half.
However, Chelsea won 3-2 on aggregate.
8. When and where is it?
Arsenal host Barcelona in the Champions League Round of 16, first leg tie at the Emirates, in one of the games of the tournament so far tonight. The match kicks off at 7.45pm.
The deciding leg will take place in three weeks, at Camp Nou on Wednesday, March 22.
9. Who will win?
Barcelona ought to have too much attacking power for Arsenal and terrific though Petr Cech is – and with happy experiences of beating Barcelona with Chelsea – only Arsenal diehards, optimists or the unbalanced would bank on a home win.
SOURCE: NIGERIAN BULLETIN