Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has conceded that Barcelona have all but qualified for the quarter-finals of the Champions League following their 2-0 victory over the Gunners at the Emirates on Tuesday night.
A Lionel Messi double saw the Catalan giants secure a healthy first-leg advantage which will require Arsenal to rewrite the record books if they are to progress to the last eight.
No team in Champions League history has overturned a two-goal deficit at this stage of the competition, and against a side as lethal as Barcelona it appears unlikely that Arsenal will be able to become the first team to do so.
“Realistically it will be very, very difficult, if not impossible,” said Wenger.
He added: “Barca is through 95 percent certainly, but we want to go there and play.
“We are Arsenal Football Club. We will not go there and have absolutely no chance but what we want is to focus now on our next game.”
Arsenal were able to keep Barca at bay until the 71st minute when Messi opened the scoring, with the Argentina international doubling his side’s advantage from the penalty spot seven minutes from time.
Wenger was left to bemoan his side’s failure to put in a 90-minute performance, having seen them come unstuck late on against Monaco earlier in the competition. Against the Ligue 1 outfit, Arsenal conceded two second-half goals on their way to suffering a 3-1 defeat in the group stages.
“We have been disciplined defensively but we knew if we have to keep a 0-0, we keep a 0-0,” Wenger said.
“They are better than us and I believe everybody knows that but I believe we could have won the game tonight if we had kept the discipline until the end. Once again, like against Monaco it is exactly the same. We are caught in exactly the same way.
“I think Barcelona are masters of all aspects of the game and as soon as you are in a bad position against one or two players, you can get punished.
“We had two or three opportunities to stop the first goal but we didn’t because I felt we didn’t have the right response to the situation our players faced.”