It isn’t that the idea of Arsenal over-turning the two goal deficit at the Camp Nou is an outright impossibility, stranger things have happened in the Champions League like Djimi Traore having legal possession of a winners medal, it just looks as likely as Vladimir Putin tweeting a list of his top ten cute kitten videos.
Before we completely dismiss the Gunners let’s look at some of the more positive less bleak stats.
Barcelona have played in 61 two-legged ties in the various knock-out stages of the European Cup/Champions League stretching back to their first involvement in the competition in 1959.
Of the 30 times the Catalan club has taken a first leg lead they have gone on to win the second leg 16 times, drawing 6 and losing 8.
Barcelona have played the second leg at home on 36 occasions where they have been beaten five times, held to five draws and won 26.
Both stats show a high degree of dominance but there are enough losses in there to present a sliver of hope to Arsenal fans. Until you find out that Barcelona have never failed to qualify when they’ve played the second leg at the Camp Nou and only once have they have they failed to qualify after winning the first leg. Their quarter-final exit at the hands of Chelsea in 2005.
When Barcelona have taken a two or more goal lead in the first leg they’ve never failed to progress to the next round. When they’ve taken a two or more goal lead back to the Camp Nou they haven’t even lost. The six times it has happened in this competition they’ve won the second leg five times, drawn once and outscored their opponents by 18 goals to 4.
An ominous stat for Arsenal considering anytime they have faced the La Liga champions on the European stage they’ve always fared worse in the second game.
Arsenal have lost their two previous 2nd leg games in the knock-out stages against Barcelona 4-1 and 3-1, have drawn 1-1 and won 2-1 in the first leg. Even in the group stages in 1999 Barcelona improved on a 1-1 home draw with a 4-2 win at Highbury. If history holds true then Arsenal are going to fare even worse in Spain than they did at home.
A threat which is only made more likely by the two side’s respective form coming in to this game. Arsenal have won just one of their last seven games and have lost thirteen games across all competitions this season. Barcelona are currently on an 8 game winning streak, are unbeaten in their last 37 games of which they’ve won 31.
And if you’re wondering who exactly will be putting Arsenal to the sword it’s probably going to be the same man who did the damage at the Emirates Stadium. Since his brace in the first leg Messi has scored seven goals in four games and has 36 goals in 36 games this season.
In the eight games these two sides have played each other both teams have scored in seven. In the 36 second legs played at the Camp Nou Barcelona have only kept a clean sheet in 14. So Barcelona to win and both teams to score looks another solid bet.