By Richard Clarke
Arsène Wenger accepts his Arsenal side will be labelled as underdogs in their Champions League Quarter-Final with Barcelona – even though he thinks the tie is “even-money”.
The Frenchman’s team were handed the hardest possible opponents in Friday’s draw when they were pitched against the reigning European champions.
Pep Guardiola’s side won a treble last year. They despatched Manchester United 2-0 in the Champions League Final and also scooped a domestic double in Spain.
"I believe we will not be favourites but, for me, it will be a 50-50 game,” said Wenger when asked for his reaction at his usual Friday press conference. “That's how we have to take it.
"When you get to the Quarter-Finals of the Champions League you play good teams and Barcelona are a good team.
“It will be an interesting, exciting game. We have to make sure we have the belief and focus right.”
Should Arsenal defy the odds they face the winner of Inter and CSKA Moscow in the Semi-Final. Having knocked out Chelsea, the Italians will be favoured there. It will be a tough path but, having got back into the title race, Wenger believes he must keep his focus on domestic matters.
"You can only take one step at a time,” he said. “Of course the route is not easy, I concede that. But the best way to be successful in the Quarter-Final is to go into those games in good condition and with a strong belief.
"That happens only if we do well in the Premier League.”Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 19 Mar 2010