By Chris Harris

If you ask a Barcelona fan about their beloved club's record in Europe, don't be surprised to see their eyes narrow and their mood darken. After all, it is a sore subject.

For all the stellar names attached to Barcelona's history, they have lifted the European Cup just once. If that wasn't frustrating enough, their old rivals Real Madrid have won the competition a record nine times. Barcelona's supporters are scarred by that unfavourable comparison, not to mention the memory of three Final defeats.

The most haunting of these took place 20 years ago when rank outsiders Steaua Bucharest won on penalties in Seville. Remember Helmut Duckadam, the mustachioed keeper who saved all four Barcelona spot kicks? Catalans do, and that's why arrogance is in short supply as Barcelona gear up for this week's showpiece with Arsenal.

"The Barcelona fan's psychology is a strange one," says Inigo Gurruchaga of El Pais. "They feel their team should have been more successful in Europe and are aggravated that their big rivals have achieved so much.

"So although Barcelona are favourites to win on Wednesday, there is always that deep-seated fear that there could be a repeat of what happened in 1986. Terry Venables was the manager then and they lost on penalties to Steaua after a terrible, terrible match.

"People remember that Barcelona were huge favourites that night but they ended up in dreadful shape. And what made it worse was the fact the game took place in Spain.

"However, there is more of a feeling of security with the current Barcelona team because it has already performed in important matches, like when they beat Chelsea.

"The Quarter-Final against Benfica was a typical example of a game where Barcelona could fail to live up to expectations, and the fans were in fear of that happening, but they came through it.

"Because of that psychology, you won't find a feeling of superiority about the Arsenal game. Barcelona will give Arsenal their due, they won't think it will be easy. There will be a lot of respect, and certainly no over-confidence."

28/1 - Champions League Final - Henry to score a hat-trick

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
Chris Harris 17 May 2006