Barcelona destined for Champions League glory following first-leg last-16 victory

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Luis Suarez so nearly didn't make it to the Emirates for Tuesday night's match, having left his passport at home. However, it wouldn't have mattered as Lionel Messi netted the goals that make Barcelona almost certain to reach the quarter-finals, ahead of Arsenal.

The Catalans had never previously won at the Emirates, and their only win away to Arsenal dated back to a 4-2 victory at Highbury in 1999, with the opening goal from the now Barca boss Luis Enrique.

However, it wasn't Enrique leaving the Emirates with questions of how he was going to prepare his team for the second leg, despite the Gunners putting on a good display. Although Arsene Wenger will be feeling his side should be heading to the Camp Nou with at least a draw.


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But that is most definitely a sign of what 'the best team in the world' can do to you. It was like a nine to five job in 90 successful minutes - doing what was expected of them, but little more.

That isn't to say Barcelona weren't deserving of their win - far from it - but it was proof that, once again, the Catalans can beat the top teams in top form, without shifting into first gear. That is something their fierce rivals Real Madrid can only desire for - as they sit nine points behind Barca in La Liga.

Every one of Barca's starting line-up has won the Champions League, and despite a testing match against an Arsenal side that showed they could test Barca, Enrique didn't make a change throughout the match.

It would be fair to question whether such a successful group of players would have the same desire to win the Champions League again, but Javier Mascherano answered that with a fantastic tackle on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, that left both on the ground after the ball went out of play. The Argentine was taking no nonsense - he wasn't going to run the risk of a threat on the Barca goal.

The focus is on the 'MSN', Messi, Suarez and Neymar. But every one of their players understands the 'Barca way', each man looked comfortable on the ball and forever producing a meaningful pass. It was a sign of champions.

It seems unfair for the focus to be so much on just the forward three, but they are the best attacking trio in the world right now, and again it showed - despite both Neymar and Suarez missing good chances in a matter of seconds.

Messi, Suarez and Neymar combined in a menacing attack, outnumbering the Gunners defence, but on this occasion neither the Brazilian or Uruguayan could capitalise on their chance. Firstly Neymar taking a touch too many before his shot was blocked, only for Messi to lay off to Suarez who could only strike the post.

Messi was quiet, and Neymar and Suarez weren't producing their A-game either, but again they won.

Suarez was by far not going over the top when celebrating with Messi, following the Argentine's second of the match. It may seem arrogant, but these guys have no expectation of anything less than a win, no matter who they face. Who knows what is must be like for the smaller La Liga sides when the Catalans come to town, or when they head to the Camp Nou.

The talk prior to the game was to act fast against a Barcelona side who are prone to starting slow, but Arsenal, like most teams, don't possess the same level of quality up front - although Olivier Giroud has scored 18 times for Arsenal this season - and couldn't find the much-needed goal.

In the end, it told. Barcelona, like they do on many occasions, won the game at a canter. But, tonight they won against top opposition who played well, and that is what stood out for the Catalans on Tuesday evening.

A combined total of 91 goals between the MSN seems too much for any of the remaining teams in the Champions League to deal with if they have the daunting task of facing Barcelona, which some of them will have to.

And as the competition wears on and things get tougher, Barcelona will up their game further. So anything less than perfection from the opposition will see them fall. It's hard not to see Barca breaking opposition fans' hearts in a Champions League final this season.

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Luis Suarez
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