Dani Alves says Barcelona were relieved to draw Arsenal in the Champions League because the Gunners lack the “experience and character” of other teams.
Barca established a 2-0 lead over Arsenal in the first leg of their last-16 tie at Emirates Stadium last month and are resounding favourites to seal their place in the quarter-finals at the Nou Camp on Wednesday night.
Alves says the Catalans were always confident after the draw was made.
“We knew it could have been tougher for us,” Alves told the Daily Mirror. “That is no reflection on the quality of Arsenal. The quality of the way they play the game and the quality of some of their players is there for all to see.
“It is a reflection on their experience, character, and mental strengths. There are teams in Europe that don’t have the quality that Arsenal have, but you would rather avoid them and play Arsenal – because you know that those teams have experience and character.”
Barcelona are favourites to become the first team to retain the Champions League since it was rebranded in 1992, and though Alves says they are taking nothing for granted, he rates the front three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar as the best he has played with.
He said: “We do have strength, and not one player is thinking the tie with Arsenal is over. It is half-time and we have put ourselves in a good position, but it is no more than that. Arsenal do have quality, and when they are at their best they can achieve special things, so from us there will be no complacency.
“It is not just consecutive Champions League titles we are chasing but also consecutive trebles. It is a big challenge, but all the players are dreaming big.
“We are playing well, and of course it is not going to be easy, but there is a real belief that we can create history by doing it.
“The evolution of Messi, Neymar, and Suarez has been incredible to watch. Not just their evolution as individuals, but as a unit.
“I have been involved in some great Barcelona teams, but I have never seen anything like those three playing together. At times their football is not from this world.”