Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes Barcelona are “super favourites” for Tuesday's UEFA Champions League clash at the Emirates Stadium, calling the defending champions almost perfect but maintaining his team has a decent chance.
Per Jim Daly of the Daily Mirror, Wenger had nothing but praise for the La Liga giants, who have been in sensational form of late: “Barcelona are super favourites, we need to raise the urgency level.”
When pressed about Tuesday's opponents, he said “no team is perfect,” but Barcelona come remarkably close, per the club's official Twitter account:
The boss on Barcelona's weaknesses "No team is perfect. Barcelona are not far from it! We need to take our chances." https://t.co/fh4FyeG5tv— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) February 22, 2016
He won't have any trouble motivating his team, however. Per John Cross of the Daily Mirror, Wenger believes the fact that the Gunners are going up against such a vaunted side makes it easier to prepare:
Wenger said: "more difficult to prepare against Hull than Barcelona."— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) February 22, 2016
The Catalans have obliterated everyone in their path in the last few months, running out to an eight-point lead in the La Liga standings, per WhoScored.com. They've looked just as impressive in Europe and have a good chance of becoming the first club to retain the Champions League title since the tournament adopted its current format.
Arsenal gained plenty of momentum in the 2-1 win over Leicester City, but there's no preparing for a clash with Barcelona. The Catalans were even able to rest a couple of players during the win over Las Palmas, an ominous sign for the Gunners.
Per Daly, Wenger sees a number of positive signs as well―including the fact that Lionel Messi has never scored against goalkeeper Petr Cech: “I hope that will give Cech a lot of confidence and will keep him quiet. I hope that Messi will have a little complex and the history will play for us and against Messi.”
The Frenchman urged his troops to tackle Tuesday's challenge as a collective, which could prove the difference against the individual quality of the Blaugrana:
Finally, he gave his opinion about the two coin-throwing incidents that have dominated the headlines the last few days, with fans in both the FA Cup clash between Chelsea and Manchester City and the match between Reading United and West Bromwich Albion resorting to the act, per Goal's Stephen Crawford.
As shared by the Gunners' official Twitter account, Wenger called it unacceptable:
Wenger on coin throwing: "People in the stands feel they can get away with everything. It is not acceptable." https://t.co/fh4FyeG5tv— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) February 22, 2016
The match against Barcelona will be Arsenal's biggest test of the season, and while Wenger gave the Catalans lots of praise during his pre-match presser, he seems up for the challenge.
He was always likely to talk about the Blaugrana as favourites, putting the pressure on Luis Enrique's side, as opposed to the Gunners. Arsenal certainly have the talent to cause a major shock against Barcelona, but flawless execution will be needed.