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Wenger: Arsenal can beat Barcelona

  • Arsene Wenger says his Arsenal players have improved since last year's defeat by Barcelona
  • London club host Spanish champions in a rematch of Champions League quarterfinal
  • Barcelona winger Pedro says his team are aiming to win first leg of last-16 tie
  • Wednesday's other game sees Italy's Roma host Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk

(CNN) -- Barcelona and Arsenal will renew their Champions League rivalry on Wednesday, and the English club's manager Arsene Wenger is confident of avenging past defeats.

Barcelona beat the London side in the 2006 final, while the Spanish champions knocked Arsenal out in last season's quarterfinals to add to a group-stage victory in 1999-2000.

Wenger's Monaco team also lost twice to the Catalans in 1993-94 when Barca's line-up featured current coach Josep Guardiola.

"We don't deny the quality of Barcelona, but what is important for us is we have a good opportunity to show who we are now," the Frenchman told reporters on Tuesday ahead of the first leg of the last-16 tie at the Emirates Stadium.

We are in an ideal condition to face Barcelona. We have the belief, the confidence and the players available
--Arsene Wenger

"Not only that, we also want to show Barcelona we are capable of knocking them out. We have the belief and a strong togetherness to show we are a different team now."

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Last season Arsenal came from two goals down to draw the home leg 2-2, but then crashed out after a 4-1 defeat at the Camp Nou as Lionel Messi scored all Barcelona's goals.

"Losing to Barcelona made us better because we came out of the second game with a lot of frustrations after missing the turning point when we were 1-0 up," Wenger said.

"We are now a stronger team because we have attitude and I have not seen many teams with such consistent focus every day. We are in an ideal condition to face Barcelona. We have the belief, the confidence and the players available."

Wenger will have to decide whether to start with top scorer Samir Nasri, who has been included in the squad after recovering from injury, but midfielder Abou Diaby is ruled out.

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Barcelona, five points clear at the top in La Liga, traveled to London without injured captain Carles Puyol and young midfielder Jeffren.

In-form winger Pedro Rodriguez, who has scored 19 goals this season including three in the Champions League, is wary of Arsenal's threat.

"They're a great team and very difficult opposition with very good players, especially up front," he told Barca's website.

"It will be a very difficult tie, different from last year as maybe they are more dangerous. We're going out to win the game. Getting a decent result in the first leg is always good, and we hope to do that and finish it off at home."

Wednesday's other last-16 tie sees Italian club Roma host Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk.

Next week, Denmark's Copenhagen host English champions Chelsea on Tuesday while Lyon welcome Barca's arch-rivals Real Madrid in a rematch of last season's second-round tie, which was won by the French club.

Titleholders Inter Milan take on Bayern Munich the following day in a repeat of last year's final, and 2008 winners Manchester United travel to French champions Marseille.