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Arsenal face daunting Barca task, Juventus meet Munich in Champions League

Lee Gormley | February 22, 2016

Arsenal v Barcelona

  • Champions League last 16, first leg
  • Tuesday, February 23rd
  • Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
  • The Emirates, north London
  • Live on BT Sport Europe

Arsenal host reigning champions Barcelona

Arsenal face the daunting task of contesting reigning European champions Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie, with the Premier League title challengers hoping for only their second ever competitive victory over the Catalan giants.

Arsenal v Southampton - Barclays Premier League - The Emirates Stadium

Arsene Wenger will hope his men can emulate the 2011 home triumph over the Spanish champions, with that previous 2-1 win in the capital having been their only fixture success to date, but Barca arrive on the back of an incredible 32-game unbeaten run in all competitions.

The Gunners will need an inspired performance in order to gain a strong result and set up a promising second leg encounter at the Nou Camp, with Wenger’s men 15/4 from Coral to triumph, while Barcelona are 18/5 to win to nil on their travels.

Wenger outlines Suarez as key threat

Despite all of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez arriving in London in unstoppable form, Wenger, who previously made a bid for the latter forward in 2013 when he was at Liverpool, has outlined the Uruguayan as his side’s main problem.

Real Madrid v FC Barcelona - La Liga - Santiago Bernabeu Stadium

The former Anfield hitman has dispatched an incredible 12 goals in his last seven outings and is 4/1 to open proceedings this time around, with Arsenal’s boss insisting they must stop him in order to have any chance of earning a positive result on home turf.

“Suarez is the kind of guy who manages to create that spirit in teams,” stated Wenger. “We have to keep him quiet on Tuesday night.

“I believe that apart from the individual talent the [front] three have, they have a good understanding and cohesion.”

Can Gunners withstand Barca firepower?

Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi has six career goals in four matches against the Londoners, making him 4/1 to dispatch another two or more in his latest meeting, while fellow South American Neymar is 5/4 to strike anytime.

Spain Soccer La Liga

Last season, on the way to lifting a historic treble, Barcelona’s front three racked up a mammoth 122 goals between them, and this current campaign they have already managed to fire in 91, giving Arsenal plenty of cause for concern.

Although, the hosts do possess enough forward threats of their own to cause significant damage and potentially stun the defending European champions, with Olivier Giroud 7/4 to net anytime, Theo Walcott 11/4 to strike and Danny Welbeck 9/1 to bag the game’s last goal.

Clinical Chilean Alexis Sanchez will be out to prove himself against his former employers and is 2/1 to find the target anytime in what could be a truly testing Champions League last 16 encounter for the Gunners.

Juventus v Bayern Munich

  • Champions League last 16, first leg
  • Tuesday, February 23rd
  • Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
  • The Juventus Stadium, Turin
  • Live on BT Sport 2

Juventus battle Bayern in Turin

Pep Guardiola will look to end his time at Bayern Munich with Champions League success, but his runaway Bundesliga leaders face strong Serie A champions Juventus in Turin, with the Germans being the only non-Italian side to have beaten their opponents at home in the last decade.

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Group E - Manchester City v Bayern Munich

Victories in both 2009 and 2013 have seen Bayern achieve that feat, and Manchester City-bound Guardiola’s dominant German champions are 19/4 to emerge from the Juventus Stadium with an away triumph and both teams scoring.

Massimiliano Allegri’s hosts saw their impressive 15-game winning domestic streak come to a halt in their previous outing, as last year’s Champions League finalists were held to a goalless draw by Bologna, but they are 21/10 to bounce back with home success here.

Vidal readied for return

Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal will return to Turin for the first time since switching clubs last summer, and the Chile international ace is likely to line-up alongside Xabi Alonso in front of a crowd he hopes to get a warm reception from.

“I return as an opponent, not an enemy,” stated Vidal, who is 7/2 to net anytime. “I don’t know how I will be welcomed, but I hope the fans don’t jeer.

Bayern Munich vs Darmstadt 98 ends 3:1

“I am excited about this game and it’ll be strange to see myself there with another jersey.

“If I score, then I won’t celebrate. In four years I learned and won a great deal. I left because it was an opportunity for me and a good move for Juve, so we were all happy.”

Tale of two talismen

Bayern have benefited hugely from the attacking exploits of prolific Pole Robert Lewandowski this season, having stormed ahead of their rivals domestically, and the in-form frontman is 9/2 to open the scoring in Turin after dispatching five in his previous three outings.

Italy Soccer Serie A

On the other side, the Old Lady have been reliant upon the heroics of Argentine forward Paulo Dybala, with the South American ace having notched up 16 goals in all competitions, and he is 6/1 to net last on home soil here.

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Coral’s top tip: Back Luis Suarez to open the scoring for Barcelona at 4/1.

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