By Izuchukwu Okosi:
It's Kanu Nwankwo and Emmanuel Amuneke's affair when Arsenal and Barcelona square up at the Emirates Stadium tonight (Tuesday night)!in the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 match, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
Kanu is a former Arsenal player, while Amuneke played for Barcelona during his career as a player, But the two former Super Eagles stalwarts have continued to support their respective former sides since retiring from the game. Their slants have played out again as tonight's big showdown at the Emirates beckons.
Kanu was hurrying to the airport to catch his flight to London late Tuesday morning when Completesportsnigeria.com got through to him on phone. The former Arsenal boy was hoping to hit London in time and also be seated at the Emirates Stadium later in the night, just before the kickoff of the highly anticipated match.
"Sorry, l'm unable to talk now. I am at the airport and I need to check in immediately. I'll talk later," Kanu told Completesportsnigeria.com as he went for his London flight check-in and boarding formalities.
Kanu has been following Arsenal's games and supporting the Arsene Wenger's side since he retired as a player. He played for Arsenal from 1999 to 2004.
Kanu will be pleased with an Arsenal win in tonight's clash.Though he scored against Barcelona during his stint with Arsenal, Kanu never tasted a win against the Camp Nou side.
Kanu scored Arsenal's equalizing goal when they played 1-1 with Barcelona in a Champions League group stage match in Catalunya in 1999. But Barcelona later won 4-2 in Wembley.
Arsenal went on to confront Barcelona on three other occasions after Kanu left the club.
The Spanish giants pipped the Gunners 2-1 in the final of the 2006 Champions League.
In 2010, Barcelona edged Arsenal 6-3 on aggregate. Their Champions League quarter-final first leg in England ended 2-2, while Barcelona won the second leg 4-1, with Lionel Messi scoring all their four goals and Nicklas Bendtner scoring for Arsenal.
Arsenal recorded their only win against Barcelona so far when they won their Champions League Round of 16 first leg in London 2-1. But Barcelona went through on aggregate after winning the deciding leg 3-1.
On the other hand, Completesportsnigeria.com got one-time Barcelona winger, Emmanuel Amuneke talking ahead of tonight's match. He expressly tipped his former club to advance to the quarter-finals of the Champions League at the expense of Arsenal over two legs of their Round of 16 matches.
"The publicity which this game has generated is massive and I hope we will see a great game," Amuneke who played for the Catalans between 1996 and 2000 told Completesportsnigeria.com.
"Barcelona have been more consistent than Arsenal. They have won more games this season. Their cohesion, passing game and game management have been better than Arsenal's this season.
"Arsenal do not have the quality that Barcelona possess, so should they (Arsenal) win this game, it will be considered an upset.
"Arsenal have two former Barcelona players in their first team; Alexis Sanchez and Hector Bellerin. Sanchez in particular will be key for Arsenal. For Barcelona, it may not be about Lionel Messi tonight. Louis Suarez and Neymar could be the ones to pull the strings.
"But really, I see Barcelona winning over two legs and qualifying for the quarter-finals. I feel Arsenal will make a fight of it, but Barca will win," Amuneke exclusively told Completesportsnigeria.com.
On the other gigantic match of the night between Juventus and Bayern Munich, Amuneke believes Juventus must win in Turin to have a realistic chance of advancing to the last 8 eight.
"Wow, this is another big match. People are talking about the Arsenal-Barcelona match, but this match could actually be more interesting.
"Both teams have big Champions League pedigree and I feel Juventus have a chance if they win at home. They have the momentum now. Bayern have been winning convincingly in the Bundesliga, but this is the Champions League.
"It will be difficult for me to predict this game. It will be won by the team that takes their chances most. Both sides are evenly balanced," Amuneke stressed.
The Arsenal versus Barcelona and the Juventus versus Bayern Munich games will kick off 8.45pm Nigerian time tonight.