A Barcelona squad headed by the clinical trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez flew to London on Monday morning (22 February) ahead of Tuesday's Champions League first-leg last-16 encounter with Arsenal. With nearly all of his players available for the match, Luis Enrique called up 19 to his travelling party. The suspended Arda Turan stays at home, alongsidelong-term injury concern Rafinha Alcantara and the out-of-favour trio of Marc Bartra, Douglas and Sandro Ramirez.
The current Champions League holders travelled to Luton Airport in a fine mood after their hopes of winning La Liga were boosted at the weekend. Barcelona beat Las Palmas 2-1 on Saturday to move eight points clear at the top of the table, while Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid were held in their respective Sunday encounters with Villarreal and Malaga.
Luis Enrique deployed his unmovable attacking trio of Messi, Neymar and Suarez at Las Palmas but also rested some Barcelona key players ahead of the trip to Arsenal, with Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique left out of the squad completely and Ivan Rakitic playing just the second half.
The rested trio are therefore expected to start at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday alongside the MSN attack, goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Dani Alves, Javier Mascherano, Jordi Alba and Andres Iniesta.
Turan, who was in the Barcelona line-up against Las Palmas, will miss the game with a suspension, while Bartra, Sandro and Douglas are once again left out of the squad — alongside the injured Rafinha — for technical reasons. One more player will have to be excluded before match day, most likely third-choice goalkeeper Jordi Masip to enable Claudio Bravo to sit on the bench.
Luis Enrique and Rakitic will address the press on Monday afternoon before a training session at the Emirates Stadium to prepare for the Tuesday's match.
Barcelona 19-man travelling squad to face Arsenal:
Marc Andre Ter Stegen, Claudio Bravo, Jordi Masip, Gerard Piqué, Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Dani Alves, Andres Iniesta, Luis Suárez, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Javier Mascherano, Munir, Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto, Adriano, Aleix Vidal, Thomas Vermalen and Jeremy Mathieu.