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Mikel Arteta calls Barcelona legend Lionel Messi their ‘big obstacle’ in the Champions League in the past

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Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Barcelona are back in the Champions League knockouts this season after being relegated to the Europa League two seasons in a row due to unfortunate injuries and probably a lack of experience in the team and coaching staff.

However, they are far from the favourites. In fact, reaching the semi-finals would be a huge achievement from Xavi and co, with four teams head and shoulders beyond them on performances this season, at least.

Manchester City are the lead runners for the title this season, expected to retain their crown from last season, with Real Madrid always in the running for the Champions League.

Inter Milan are hoping to better their achievements from last season and win the final this time, and finally, Arsenal have sneaked into the four favourites this season, largely courtesy of Mikel Arteta’s brilliant work.

The Spanish manager is trying to get away from the ghosts of his playing career, when Arsenal often failed miserably in the UCL. They are probably the biggest club in Europe to have never won the competition, in fact.

When asked about his playing days and whether Arsenal had a mental block in this competition, especially in the past, Arteta name-checked a certain Barcelona hero and Bayern Munich.

“Someone called Messi was another obstacle, as well, and Bayern Munich. This competition is what it is. It comes down to details and you need your players at your best,” he said, as quoted by GOAL.

Messi does have a frankly ridiculous record against the Gunners, to be fair, scoring nine goals and assisting two in a mere six appearances — all in the Champions League, as well.

While Messi is out of the Champions League now, Barcelona will be hoping to carry on his legacy should they get to face Arsenal this season in the knockouts.

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