By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Arsene Wenger is banking on Petr Cech to be a key figure in denying the world’s best forward line in Arsenal’s Champions League clash against Barcelona.
Wenger admitted the holders are “super favourites” for the two-legged tie, which starts with Tuesday’s showdown at Emirates Stadium, but has great confidence in Cech and his team-mates to make it difficult for the visitors.
Barcelona are undefeated in 32 matches, thanks principally to their outstanding front three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.
Speaking at his media briefing on Monday, Wenger: “I know that individually MSN have exceptional talent, the only way we can beat them is collectively. Resilient, great solidarity, intelligent as well, lets not forget that we have a good defensive record and a great goalkeeper as well.
“We have to find the right balance between being audacious but also strong defensively as a unit and not put ourselves in a difficult task in the second leg.”
Asked for his thoughts on how Barcelona’s forwards compare to those in world football, Wenger said: “They are the most efficient [strike force in the world]. They are top, top class.
“They have a team who can score at any moment, even when dominated. Messi scored 300 goals in 340 games, I’ve seen many strikers in my life but I’ve never seen a record like that.”
Nevertheless, Messi has never scored against Cech, who managed to shut out the brilliant Argentine during his Chelsea days.
“I hope that will give Cech a lot of confidence and will keep [Messi] quiet. “I hope that Messi will have a little complex and the history will play for us and against Messi.”
In other Arsenal news, four players have been ruled out of the first leg by Arsene Wenger.