Samir Nasri believes FC Barcelona can be beaten at their own game as Arsenal FC travel to Spain defending a one-goal lead in the concluding leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie.
The Gunners recovered from David Villa's early strike to eke out a first-leg advantage at the Arsenal Stadium on 16 February, Robin van Persie and Andrey Arshavin scoring in the last 12 minutes as a famous win was secured. Nasri, however, recognises the job is far from finished. "Barcelona are favourites, because they're the best team in the world," he told UEFA.com. "But we've got a good chance of beating them, because we've got an advantage [from] the first leg.
"When we come to play, we'll just play our game. And we'll have plenty of space, because Barcelona just play, they don't defend like an Italian team. We've got a chance and I hope we can go through, because the Champions League is really important for me."
Last month's match was a thrilling encounter which enraptured fans across the world, and Nasri admitted it had been a memorable experience. "I don't know if it was the best game in the Champions League but it was two teams who came and played their football, attacked with such great intensity," he explained.
"That's why we like the Champions League – two teams from different countries can play and show who's the best and that's why it's really important for me to win the Champions League.
I have been dreaming about this competition since I was a kid, for those kind of games. And I'm really happy I was part of the first leg."
Arsenal came unstuck at the Camp Nou in last season's quarter-finals, a Lionel Messi-inspired Barça running out 4-1 winners, yet Nasri reckons this year's victory shows just how far Arsène Wenger's men have come over the past 12 months. "We're still the same group as when I signed, so that stability has helped us a lot," he said.
"All the players have progressed and when players step up, you will always help the team. Mr Wenger is really important, because he gave us the confidence, even when we were not winning trophies. He shows that he has confidence. And he believes in us. You have to repay that, and the only way is on the pitch."
Looming large over Tuesday's second leg is the memory of Messi's four goals in this fixture last term, although Arsenal largely kept the Argentinian international under wraps in north London three weeks ago. "I hope he'll be quiet in the second leg as well," he said.
Messi can score 100 goals in the league if he wants; that's OK, it's not our problem. But I don't want him to do what he did last year, because then he was unbelievable. He scored four fantastic goals, and showed us why he is the best player in the world. I hope he's quiet in the second leg. That will be really important for us."
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