Arsenal vs. Barcelona: CL Betting Preview
No doubting Barcelona are worthy Champions League favourites but their recent away record in Europe is shoddy and they must be opposed on Wednesday at the prices.
Pep Guardiola takes his all-conquering side to London to take on Arsenal in the tie of the round but while it is very difficult to pick holes in Barca’s outright claims, a one-off match is a different matter altogether.
While the Catalan club have dominated domestically under Guardiola, they have been found wanting in this competition once or twice and remarkably it is just two away wins in their last 12 matches against Europe’s elite. Those successes came in group stage wins in Kyiv and Athens, against Panathinaikos, and we mustn’t forget Barca came unstuck at the semi-final stage last season either. >
While Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan possessed plenty more guile than the current crop of Gunners, Barca were frustrated over two legs in the last four in 2010 and it won’t have escaped Arsene Wenger’s attention that you have to go back four years to find the last time Wednesday’s opponents won on their travels at a top European club.
That win, a 1-0 victory at Anfield, is now a distant memory for Barca fans and they’ll be concerned by group stage draws this time around against Rubin Kazan and FC Copenhagen, on both occasions Victor Valdes failing to keep a clean sheet.
Arsenal will clearly be tougher opponents than either of that pair and the Premier League side have a terrific opportunity to grab a first leg lead.
While Barcelona’s magnificent 16 match winning run in La Liga came to an end with a 1-1 draw against Sporting Gijon on the weekend, Arsenal’s 2-0 beating of Wolves kept them firmly in the title hunt, just four points behind Manchester United, and the hosts enter the clash in decent form.
You have to go back to mid-December to find the last time the Gunners lost a meaningful fixture, a 1-0 defeat to the table-topping Red Devils, and their home form in this competition is always excellent. Arsenal smashed 14 goals in three group stages triumphs and must be overpriced at bigger than 4.00 to claim victory at The Emirates.
4pts Lay Barcelona (vs. Arsenal) @ 2.00 (Betfair)
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