UCL: Big guns lock horns

Arsenal will look to contain the dangerous Barca trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar, while in the other fixture, Juventus, up against Bayern Munich, will draw confidence from its 16-game unbeaten run at home in the Champions League.

Arsenal will have to play out of its skin to stop Lionel Messi (left), Luis Suarez (centre), and Neymar.   -  AP

Pep Guardiola (in picture) will have to contend with a host of injuries as he will be without Javi Martínez (knee), Jerome Boateng (groin) and Holger Badstuber (ankle).   -  AP

A match-up that has become common in recent seasons, Arsenal welcomes Barcelona to the Emirates, for the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 on Tuesday.

The Gunners will have to work on a few facets if they are to put it across Barca. This stage last year, Arsenal lost the first leg to the French side, Monaco, 3-1 at the Emirates, before going out on away goals after a 2-0 win in the second leg. Therefore, Arsene Wenger’s men will have to concentrate on not only keeping a clean sheet, but also getting a positive result.

However, that is easier said than done, given the superb form that Messi, Neymar and Suarez are in. It is no secret that the key to Arsenal's success is in keeping the trio quiet. The Gunners will rely on Petr Cech to keep out, at least, Messi, who has never scored against the Czech goalkeeper in eight outings.

 

At the other end of the pitch, Arsenal will hope Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil provide ample service to Giroud, who is expected to lead the line for the host.

For Barcelona, apart from the fact that it is the best in the world, history is on its side as the Catalan team has enjoyed considerable success against Arsenal. However, the last time the two teams met at the Emirates in 2011, Arsenal stunned Messi and Co with a 2-1 victory that ranks as one of the best European moment in the club’s history.

lso read: >Wenger banking on Cech 'complex' to frustrate Messi; >Wenger hails solidarity of MSN; >Henry: Arsenal are dead if Barcelona stop Ozil

Juventus v Bayern Munich

Pep Guardiola will take Bayern Munich to Turin (Italy), the home of last season’s runner-up Juventus. This poses an opportunity for a reunion between Juve’s Pogba and Munich’s Vidal, who were team-mates in the final defeat to Barcelona last summer.

Head-to-head, Bayern leads Juventus 4-3 in the eight encounters between the two sides. The last time the two teams met (in the quarterfinal stage in 2013), Bayern brushed aside Juventus and went on to lift the trophy.

Guardiola, however, has his share of injury worries, as Bayern Munich will be without Javi Martínez (knee), Jerome Boateng (groin) and Holger Badstuber (ankle). Without proper centre-backs, he will have to pair midfielder Joshua Kimmich and full-back David Alaba for an unlikely partnership.

This could prove to be a head start for the home side, going into tonight’s game with a run of 13 consecutive wins in all competitions before a draw at Bologna on Friday.

Massimiliano Allegri's team is also on a 16-game unbeaten run at home in the Champions League. He will be without the injured Giorgio Chiellini (calf) and Alex Sandro (thigh) but will have Mario Mandzukic, who is back after a calf problem. The former Bayern striker is expected to start and so is midfielder Sami Khedira.

With Guardiola’s focus seemingly on the Premier League after his Manchester City move, Juventus, which goes into the game as the underdog, can exploit the distraction that is apparently plaguing the Bavarian camp.

Also, read: >Guardiola undaunted by Juve's winning run, >Pogba relishing Vidal reunion.

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