Arsenal’s hopes of making the Champions League quarter-finals will be over after the first leg of their last-16 tie against Barcelona, says Daily Telegraph journalist Matt Law.
Arsenal have fallen at this hurdle of the Champions League for the last five years in a row and face a difficult task to end that run against the tournament favourites, who stretched their unbeaten run in all competitions to 32 games with a 2-1 win at Las Palmas on Saturday as a much-changed Gunners side drew 0-0 with Hull City in the FA Cup.
On their chances of getting past Barca, Law told Sunday Supplement on Sky Sports: “They need to just pray.
“Barcelona are 32 games unbeaten – it’s Harlem Globetrotter football we’ve been seeing in recent weeks. Those three [Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez] going up against Per Mertesacker? You just can’t see it, especially over two legs.
“It’s always a bit of a running joke with Arsenal – they’ll probably get battered at home and then go 2-0 up in the Nou Camp, get everybody excited and ultimately go out. I’d imagine the tie will be over by the first leg as it often is.
“I can’t see anything but Barcelona having a two-goal lead or more than that. It’s no reflection on Arsenal – this isn’t me battering Arsenal or saying they’re not good enough, it’s just that Barcelona are on a different planet.
“They’re on a different level to anyone at the minute.”
The Times’ James Ducker, meanwhile, believes Barcelona’s ruthlessness in front of goal is their biggest advantage over the Gunners.
He said: “The one thing that strikes me with the front three is how incredibly ruthless they are in front of goal. For Arsenal to have a chance Petr Cech will have to have a couple of worldies in a very organised defensive performance.
“Any chance Alexis Sanchez or Olivier Giroud get on the break, they’re going to have to take.
“That’s one of the differences with Arsenal – we saw it on Saturday – they’re not the most ruthless of teams, but they are going to have to find a way. You’re not going to get that many chances – they will have to take them.”