Barcelona sporting director Robert Fernandez has welcomed the Champions League last 16 draw against Arsenal, admitting the Catalan giants wanted to avoid a clash with Paris Saint-Germain or Juventus. Fernandez admits that the Gunners can be dangerous, but is confident the reigning champions will coast through to the next round.
Barca could have faced the Gunners, PSG, Juventus, PSV, Gent or Dynamo Kiev after topping Group E. The draw eventually paired them with Arsene Wenger's side, who finished second in their group behind Bayern Munich following a 3-0 victory over Olympiacos.
Fernandez believes it will be an open tie but admits he is very happy to avoid last season's runners-up Juventus and Ligue 1 champs PSG.
"Arsenal are at a good level, but so are all the teams that get this far. There are more difficult opponents, though, who luckily we won't face [yet]. The truth is that Juventus and PSG were two teams we didn't want to draw," he admitted as quoted by Sport.
"I think it is an attractive draw. Arsenal are a team who like to have the ball and we will enjoy that. It is an open and complicated tie but I have confidence that we will go through."
Barcelona have eliminated the Gunners from the contest three times in the past ten years: 2010, 2011 and the 2006 final. Fernandez believes the passing philosophy both teams share will make it an entertaining match for neutrals.
"It is an attractive tie, Arsenal are a good team with magnificent players and they play really good football. They will be two difficult games but we knew that we would meet tough opposition in this tournament. Arsenal fit that category," he said.
"They have great players, Arsenal have a football philosophy that is similar to ours. Like I said, it will be complicated, but it's an attractive game for the public."
Barcelona travel to Emirates Stadium for the first leg on 23 February with the second leg at the Nou Camp on 16 March. Fernandez believes securing a positive result in the first game at North London will be vital for his side to go through the next round.
"It's a dangerous tie. They have great players, players who are known around the world. It will be vital to get a good result away from home in the first leg so we can be more relaxed when we play them at home."