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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 24, 2011

Villa: Superior Barca will outgun Arsenal

Barcelona striker David Villa is convinced his side will beat Arsenal to progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League next month, despite last week's 2-1 defeat in north London.

• Guardiola laughs off Wilshere talk

Villa gave a dominant Barca side the lead in the first leg at the Emirates last Wednesday, only to see Arsenal hit back to claim what had looked an improbable victory through second-half goals from Robin van Persie and Andrey Arshavin.

And Barca, semi-finalists or better in four of the last five editions of the Champions League, will need to overturn that deficit to seal progress at the Nou Camp on March 8.

But Villa believes a similar performance at home will be enough for Pep Guardiola's side.

"I think that if we do things like we did in London, we will be on the right track,'' he said. "We will go through to the next round, I'm sure, because we were far superior in everything except for the result (at the Emirates).''

Villa and his team-mates missed a host of clear-cut chances in London, though, and the Spain forward knows passage to the quarter-finals will depend on their shooting accuracy in the second leg.

"We need to perform better in front of goal,'' he said. "If we do that we will go through.''

The second meeting with Arsenal has been given extra spice by the Gunners' controversial signing of 16-year-old Barca midfielder Jon Toral this week.

That move has angered the Catalans, who remain unhappy about Arsenal's capture of their former youth player Cesc Fabregas in a similar deal back in 2003.

Villa, though, says none of that is on the Barca players' minds at the moment.

"We are thinking about Mallorca (this weekend's Primera Division opponents) - that's what we're concerned with right now,'' he said. "The rest, for the moment, is still far away.

"The Arsenal match is a very important match that we have to prepare for, but before Arsenal we have others and right now, the nerves, the worries and the desire to play are centred on the game against Mallorca.''

Barca maintained their five-point lead over Real Madrid in La Liga with a hard-fought 2-1 win at home to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday night and also face Jose Mourinho's side in the final of the Copa del Rey in April.

And while Barca coach Guardiola - who signed a new deal yesterday to remain at the Nou Camp until summer 2012 - has played down talk of winning a league, cup and Champions League treble, Villa believes anything is possible for the Catalan club.

"We can fight for the treble,'' he said. "We are playing for three titles at the moment, and we are going to try to go step by step, with humility, to try to win all three.

"It will take a lot of hard work, but we are still alive in all three competitions and we are going to fight until the end in all three - we can only promise that.''

Villa's goal against Athletic means he has scored in the last three games - his best run so far as a Barca player.

"I'm happy with my form and the numbers, although I'm more concerned with how people have reacted to me,'' he said. "That tells me I'm doing well.''

The 29-year-old is also delighted at Guardiola's contract renewal, even if it is initially only for one more year.

"It's great news for the club,'' he said. "He prefers to sign yearly contracts and that's what works for him, but I would love to play for Guardiola for the rest of my career.''

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