Barcelona boss Luis Enrique hailed Arsene Wenger a ‘chosen one’ on the eve of their clash in the Nou Camp but warned Arsenal to prepare for more Champions League misery.
Under-fire Wenger and his ailing team head for Spain, clinging to the hope that the European champions will be weakened by complacency after winning 2-0 in the first leg in London.
The Premier League team’s chances will be boosted if stars like Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar attempt to coast into the last eight of the competition, but Enrique insists it cannot happen.
‘We are not going to change,’ said the Barca manager. ‘We want to be better than Arsenal. If we can that is perfect.
‘There will be no change in our approach. Maybe that is a question for Mr Wenger, whether he will change. But even if they change, we want to stop them.
‘I am not concerned about my players being too relaxed. These are champions we are talking about. The players are aware of that. This will not happen. I know that.
‘We do not change our training or preparation. The opponent is still dangerous and we will have to play very well.’
Wenger is in his 20th season as Arsenal manager but criticism has increased in recent weeks, as his team crashed out of the FA Cup and failed to seize the initiative in the Premier League title race.
After back-to-back FA Cup wins, they face the prospect of another season without a trophy, but Enrique said: ‘Wenger is a very good coach. Only the chosen ones can be there for a long time. For me it is impossible.
‘I don’t have a deep knowledge to assess his situation but every time there are more coaches out there and every time there are more possibilities, the team and club is the same.
‘That is why it is difficult to be there 20 years which shows you Mr Wenger has done a good job.’
Enrique branded Arsenal’s style as ‘direct’, and added: ‘They do not elaborate much but we solved that in the first-leg.
‘They have quality players like Theo Walcott, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. We want to keep the ball and not see many of their counter attacks.
‘We know Alexis. He was here for three seasons. I am sure it will stimulate him. He is a very important player for Arsenal; a quality player, very fast, a good attacker. He has improved since he was at Barcelona in his football way of playing.’
Gerard Pique is injured, but Barcelona expect Neymar to be refreshed after giving him a four-day break.
‘I don’t think he will be feeling pressure,’ said Enrique. ‘All people go home to Brazil and have a good time. He is playing well. He doesn’t score that much but he is still making goals.’