Xavi - Arsenal didn't want ball

Barca midfielder reckons fear factor may have played its part

Xavi: Celebrates goal

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Barcelona star Xavi believes Arsenal 'didn't want the ball' as they crashed out of the Champions League.

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Barca beat the Gunners 3-1 at the Camp Nou to win the last-16 tie 4-3 on aggregate, although Arsenal failed to have a single shot.

Sergio Busquets headed into his own net to cancel out Lionel Messi's opener but Barca's dominance eventually took its toll, with Xavi scoring in the 69th minute before Messi converted a penalty two minutes later.

While Arsenal are arguing that Robin van Persie's red card at 1-1 had a huge impact on the outcome, Barca were already dominating possession and finished with 68 per cent, along with 17 shots, as they booked their place in the quarter-finals.

"We were superior to them from start to finish," Xavi told Uefa's official website.

Loyal

"We imposed our football, we remained totally loyal to our manner of playing - we demonstrated our personality.

"Arsenal barely had a shot on goal and their only goal was scored by our player. They didn't want the ball and our tempo of play and our intensity was always going to see us through."

Xavi and fellow World Cup winner Andres Iniesta pulled the strings in a sublime passing display by Barca, while right-back Dani Alves hailed Messi after the Argentinian star took his tally to 45 goals for the season.

"Perhaps this was our most difficult game so far in the Champions League this season but we have Messi and he's on a superior level to anyone else," Alves added.

"He's our genius, the guy who pulls us through tough games and he's done it again. He wasn't alone, we all know that Messi was accompanied by a great team tonight but he's the perfect complement to our work."

Should Real Madrid progress against Lyon next week they could face Barca in the last eight, making it four El Clasicos in a fortnight as the bitter rivals are also set to play each other in the league and the Copa del Rey final.

"It's true that Real Madrid might be our next opponents but there remains a wide range of teams we could face," said Barca forward Pedro.

"All we wanted was to be in the last eight and if fate puts us up against Madrid then we'll prepare for it the same way we would any other club. As for Messi, well I'm all out of adjectives to describe his excellence."

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