Fun and games at the Ciutat Esportiva

Rondo/ Miguel Ruiz - FCB.
The team’s warm-up game of keep-away illustrates the bond between the players

FC Barcelona’s training sessions are just as fun and exciting as their games. Today’s workout was no exception, showcasing the good atmosphere accompanying a team which has now gone 37 straight games without a defeat.

A little over 48 hours ahead of the second leg of the UEFA Champions League last 16, Monday morning’s practise session provided yet another glimpse into the warm vibes between the players. Their daily warm-up game of keep-away — also known as a ‘rondo’ — featuring Sergi Roberto and Jérémy Mathieu produced a glut of smiles as the loose climate so typical of this Barça was on full display.

FC Barcelona open preparations for Arsenal visit

Goalkeeper Marc-André Ter Stegen has appeared in all of Barça's Champions League games this season. / MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
The team’s attention has turned from La Liga to the UEFA Champions League, with a berth in the quarter-finals on the line

After vanquishing Getafe on Saturday afternoon at Camp Nou, FC Barcelona’s next challenge will not be in La Liga, but in the UEFA Champions League, in which they will host Arsenal in the second leg of their last 16 tie on Wednesday night at 8.45pm CET. Barça go into the match with a 2–0 aggregate advantage as they seek a berth in the quarter-finals.

Head coach Luis Enrique Martínez gave his players the day off on Sunday but on Monday morning they were back out on Tito Vilanova Field at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper to begin getting ready for Arsenal. They will train again Tuesday at the same time, their last preparatory session before Wednesday’s match.

Never write Arsenal off warns Vermaelen

Interview Thomas Vermaelen / MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
The Belgian, who was at the Gunners for five seasons, knows from experience that his former club will battle hard in Tuesday’s second leg

If there is one player in the Barça squad who knows all about Arsenal, then that man is Thomas Vermaelen. The Belgian defender was at the Gunners for five years, and was first team captain until his move to Barça in the summer of 2014.

Ahead of Tuesday’s second leg, which comes after the Catalans won 2-0 in London, he says in an interview with Barça TV and that “it won’t be an easy game at all. Although we have a small lead, you can never say that they are out. They have very quick players and that makes them dangerous.  We’ll need to concentrate.”[[CITA_1]]

He also speaks about the similarities between the way Barça and Arsenal play, saying that “they are two different teams, but also very similar in the way they play. They look to play a passing game and keep the ball on the ground. They don’t go for long balls.”

On Barça’s chances of becoming the first team to win back-to-back titles in the Champions Leagues, he comments that “it would be incredible to win it again, but there’s still a long way to go. There are lots of games left we’ll have to work hard if we want to do it.”

“We won’t speculate against Arsenal. We’ll go out and try to win the match”

Goal-fests galore at Camp Nou

The players celebrate during win over Getafe. MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
Barça have scored five times or more on seven occasions at home this campaign

The run against Getafe continues

Getafe have visited the Camp Nou 14 times in the league and have yet to win. Barça have won eleven and drawn three.

Goal-fests have become a common occurrence at Camp Nou this campaign, with FC Barcelona’s recent thrashing of Getafe adding to a long list of similar feats.

Saturday’s 6-0 win over the Madrid-based club was the seventh time this season that Barça have won by scoring five or more goals.

They include a 5-2 win over Rayo Vallecano, 6-0 against Athletic Club and the recent 6-1 win over Celta Vigo. There was also a 6-1 win over AS Roma in the Champions League plus a 7-0 demolition of Valencia in the Copa del Rey semi-final.

Over a year undefeated

To call Camp Nou a fortress would be an understatement, as Barça have not lost at their home for over a year. The last defeat was against Malaga on 21 February 2015. In the 32 matches that have followed that loss, the fans have witnessed 29 wins and three draws.

Highest league scorers

With the six scored against Getafe, Barça’s league tally stands at 84 in 29 matches. 68 of the strikes have come from the front three, Suarez (29), Messi (22) and Neymar Jr (20).