Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck can hurt Barcelona - Rafael Benitez

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Rafael Benitez knows exactly how formidable this current Barcelona team is.

One of the reasons he lost his job at Real Madrid in January - just seven months after taking over from Carlo Ancelotti - was because of November’s humiliating 4-0 defeat to Luis Enrique’s side at the Bernabeu.

Luis Suarez, Andres Iniesta and Neymar tore Los Blancos apart and the game was already over before Lionel Messi, back after a two-month injury lay-off, entered the fray as a 57th-minute substitute.


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Next up for the seemingly unstoppable Barcelona, who recorded a 2-1 win over Las Palmas on Saturday, are Arsenal.

The Gunners are firm underdogs, despite the fact they have home advantage in their Champions League last-16 first leg clash on Tuesday night, but Benitez feels the English club have two players in their ranks who can cause the Catalan giants problems.

Benitez: Sanchez and Welbeck can hurt Barcelona

“There is no doubt that Barcelona is playing well – with a lot of confidence,” the Spanish coach was quoted as saying by the Mirror. “But Arsenal have had some good news in the last few weeks. Alexis Sanchez is playing regularly and with [Danny] Welbeck coming back that will help their game.

“If they can keep the ball with these two players up front they will be more dangerous.”

Benitez: Arsenal can't make defensive errors

Benitez also has some advice for Arsenal about what it takes to beat Barcelona - although, to be honest, it’s pretty basic stuff.

“The key is that you cannot afford to make mistakes in defence," he added. "Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez will punish you. There is no doubt about that.

“However, for me, the interesting thing will be to see if Arsenal play a high line in defence.

“That is one option. Another is to be deeper and play on the counter-attack.

“It will be interesting to see which way Arsene Wenger goes.”

Wenger knows what it takes to beat Barcelona

Wenger has experience of beating Barcelona on home turf. Back in February 2011, goals from Robin van Persie and Andrey Arshavin earned the Gunners a surprise 2-1 victory over Pep Guardiola’s magnificent Barcelona side.

But a 3-1 defeat at the Camp Nou three weeks later meant Arsenal were eliminated from the competition.

Wenger will be acutely aware that failure to record a positive result at the Emirates Stadium this week will almost certainly spell the end of Arsenal’s participation in this season’s Champions League campaign.

The north London outfit also travelled to the Camp Nou in April 2010 and were hammered 4-1, with all four of Barcelona’s goals coming from Messi.

Containing Messi, Suarez and Neymar could prove to be an impossible task for Arsenal - but, with the likes of Sanchez and Welbeck at their disposal, there’s every chance they will find a way past Marc-Andre ter Stegen at least once on Tuesday night.

Do Arsenal stand a chance against Barcelona this week? Have your say by leaving a comment below.

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UEFA Champions League
Alexis Sanchez
Danny Welbeck
Thierry Henry
Real Madrid
Lionel Messi

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