Arsenal hoping to lay Barcelona ghosts
Monday, January 3, 2011
After defeats by FC Barcelona in the 2006 UEFA Champions League final and in last season's quarter-finals, Arsenal FC will hope to finish as winners this time when the teams meet again.
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The teams who contested the 2006 UEFA Champions League final renew their rivalry in the round of 16 with Arsenal FC seeking to turn the tables after their quarter-final defeat by FC Barcelona a year ago.
• The London club lost 6-3 on aggregate to the Spanish side in 2009/10 and are yet to beat Barça in five attempts, drawing two and losing three – conceding ten goals in those defeats.
• Arsenal recovered from 2-0 down to force a 2-2 home draw in last season's quarter-final first leg against the then holders. Zlatan Ibrahimović (46, 59) put Barcelona in charge before Arsenal replied through Theo Walcott (69) and Cesc Fàbregas' 85th-minute penalty following a professional foul by Carles Puyol, for which he was sent off. Arsène Wenger's team went ahead in the return through Nicklas Bendtner's 18th-minute effort only for Lionel Messi to take matters in his own hands, scoring all Barça's goals in a 4-1 victory.
• The lineups for the first leg on 31 March 2010 were:
Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna (Walcott 66), Vermaelen, Gallas (Denilson 44), Clichy, Diaby, Fàbregas, Nasri, Song, Arshavin (Eboué 27), Bendtner.
Barcelona: Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Maxwell, Xavi, Keita, Busquets, Pedro, Messi (Milito 87), Ibrahimović (Henry 77).
• Barcelona came from behind to defeat Arsenal 2-1 in the 2006 final at Stade de France. Samuel Eto'o and substitute Juliano Belletti scored in quick succession late on to overturn Sol Campbell's opener for an Arsenal side reduced to ten men by an early red card for Jens Lehmann, who became the first player sent off in a European Champion Clubs' Cup final.
• The full lineups for that match on 17 May 2006 were:
Barcelona: Valdés, Oleguer (Belletti 71), Márquez, Puyol, Van Bronckhorst, Deco, Edmílson (Iniesta 46), Van Bommel (Larsson 61), Giuly, Eto'o, Ronaldinho.
Arsenal: Lehmann, Eboué, Touré, Campbell, Cole, Pirès (Almunia 20), Gilberto, Fàbregas (Flamini 74), Hleb (Reyes 85), Ljungberg, Henry.
• The clubs also met in the 1999/2000 UEFA Champions League first group stage. The game in Spain finished 1-1 before the Catalan giants won 4-2 at Wembley, current coach Josep Guardiola captaining Barcelona in both matches while Puyol was on the bench for the Wembley game.
• Arsenal are taking part in their 13th UEFA Champions League campaign and this is the 11th successive time they have progressed beyond the initial group stage. In the last three years they have made it to the quarter-finals or better.
• The Gunners won all three home games in the group stage, scoring 14 goals in the process. No team from outside England have won in the 27 UEFA Champions League games, including qualifiers, staged at the Arsenal Stadium. Prior to Manchester United FC's victory in the 2008/09 semi-finals, Wenger's men boasted a five-year unbeaten home run in the competition, bridging their two grounds.
• Barcelona were semi-finalists last year, losing to eventual winners FC Internazionale Milano. This season they won their group for the fourth successive year and have now qualified from the initial group stage in the last nine campaigns in which they have taken part.
• Barcelona won all three home fixtures in finishing top in Group D, although the Matchday 6 victory at Panathinaikos FC was their first in six UEFA Champions League away games and only the second in 12. On the other hand they have lost just one of their last 15 away games.
• In addition to their meetings during the 1999/2000 season, the rival coaches also lined up against each other when Wenger was coach of AS Monaco FC and Guardiola a player at Barcelona. Guardiola came out on top with Barcelona winning home (2-0) and away (1-0) in the 1993/94 UEFA Champions League group stage.
• Guardiola was in the Barcelona team which won the European Cup for the first time on English soil with a 1-0 extra-time victory against UC Sampdoria in the 1992 final at Wembley.
• Thierry Henry, a UEFA Champions League winner with Barcelona in 2009, is Arsenal's record league scorer. He hit 174 goals in 254 Premier League appearances, and 226 in 369 matches overall, between 1999 and 2007, when he left for Spain, lifting two league titles and three FA Cups during his time in north London. His first coach when he joined Monaco as a teenager was Wenger.
• Fàbregas left Barcelona's youth ranks to join Arsenal as a 16-year-old in September 2003.
• Andrey Arshavin was in the Russia side beaten 3-0 in the UEFA EURO 2008 semi-final by a Spain team including Puyol, David Villa, Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta along with Fàbregas. Villa played only 34 minutes before tearing a muscle, an injury which saw him miss Spain's 1-0 final victory against Germany.
• Gerard Piqué played once against Arsenal while at Manchester United FC from 2004 to 2008. That appearance, in a 2-1 United win at Old Trafford in April 2008, was his last for the club.
• Seydou Keita scored the opening goal for Sevilla FC when they beat Arsenal 3-1 in the UEFA Champions League group stage in November 2007. Daniel Alves and Adriano also played for the Andalusian side that night, while both Alves and Keita were involved in Sevilla's 3-0 reverse at Arsenal two months earlier.
• Javier Mascherano was in the Liverpool FC team that opened the Premier League season with a 1-1 home draw against Arsenal on 15 August. He played against them on seven previous occasions – including a 2007/08 UEFA Champions League quarter-final which Liverpool won 5-3 on aggregate – but won just two of those encounters.
• During two seasons with Sevilla, Sébastien Squillaci was on the losing side against Barcelona on three occasions in the Liga, his team shipping a total of ten goals.
• Thomas Vermaelen was a team-mate of Maxwell at AFC Ajax from 2001 to 2006.
• Vermaelen was in the Belgium team beaten 5-0 by Spain in La Coruna in a FIFA World Cup qualifier in September 2009. David Villa struck twice and Piqué registered for a home side also featuring Puyol, Xavi, Sergio Busquets and Fàbregas.
• Robin van Persie's Netherlands side lost 1-0 in last summer's World Cup final to Spain, Iniesta scoring a 116th-minute winner. Piqué, Villa, Puyol, Xavi Hernández, Pedro and Busquets all also featured for the victors, as did Fàbregas.
• Bacary Sagna and substitute Abou Diaby were in the France side that recorded a 1-0 friendly win against Brazil in Paris on 9 February; Alves appeared for the visitors, with Éric Abidal also in the France ranks.