Lionel Messi has revealed that Barcelona knew the Gunners would not be able to sustain their discipline in the second half and were not worried after the first half ended in a stalemate. Barcelona won the leg 2-0 and are favourites to move into the next round at the expense of the Gunners after the reverse fixture next month.
The north London club put in a solid performance, but failed to break Barcelona down, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain missing a gilt edged opportunity to put the Gunners ahead in the first half. Olivier Giroud's header was saved by Ter Stegen, but the effort was not enough as the north London club tired and committed a fatal error in the 70th minute to concede the opening goal.
Neymar was given a free run into the box and his pass found Messi, who slotted the well passed Petr Cech. This is the first time that Messi has scored past the Czech Republic keeper and he doubled his tally with a well taken penalty 10 minutes later after Mathieu Flamini brought him down in the box. The Argentine said that the implosion was expected after the Gunners had run themselves to the ground in the first half and were expected to tail off.
"The first half they did well and physically they are very strong. We knew that they would get worse in the second half, that they wouldn't hold out. That's how it turned out and we found the spaces to score," Messi said, as quoted by the Mirror.
However, the striker was not willing to take any chances and if of the view that the Gunners still have a chance to come back in the reverse fixture despite the advantage Barcelona have with their two goal lead. Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger has revealed that the Catalans have all but confirmed their entry to the next round.
"The tie isn't over," Messi added. "We know what they're capable of. Nothing is done yet but it's a great result."