“[Wenger] can have his opinions obviously,” the Barca manager began, speaking in his pre-match press conference [quotes relayed via ESPN], “We are the current Champions League champions and I think it’s logical that we are tagged favourites against Arsenal,” he continued.
“However, being favourites means absolutely nothing. We have to prove our qualities in game after game. And playing away from home is very difficult.”
Despite Enrique’s desire to play down Barca’s ‘favourites’ tag, it’s easy to understand why the reigning champions appear to be overwhelming favourites to take the tie.
The Gunners have failed to truly convince in the Premier League in recent months, and while they have won their last two league matches, they are coming off the back of a mixed run when they picked up only three points of a possible 12 between January 13 and February 2.
Arsenal were unconvincing in the group stage as well, winning only one and losing three of their opening four matches before rallying and securing qualification for the last 16 after two wins in their last two matches.
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Barca, by contrast, went undefeated in the group stage, and sit in pole position in La Liga, having accrued 63 points from 25 matches—eight more than second-place Atletico Madrid.
The two sides last met at the same stage of the competition in 2011, when Barcelona won the tie 4-3 on aggregate after winning the second leg 3-1 at the Nou Camp.