Arsenal braced for Barca battle

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BARCELONA - Depleted Arsenal need to draw on their physical and mental reserves to face Barcelona for a spot in the Champions League semi-finals on Tuesday while their hosts have their own problems to overcome to maintain their edge.

Arsenal will be without inspirational captain Cesc Fabregas, who completed their unexpected comeback with a late penalty to level 2-2 against Barca in London last week but cracked a bone in his leg in the process.

They will also be missing injured William Gallas, forward Andrei Arshavin and midfielder Alex Song, as they seek a win or a high-scoring draw to advance to the last four.

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"I know that they will fight for it," Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger told a news conference on Monday. "I always supported this team even in the weak points of the season because I believe they have some exceptional mental strength."

Holders Barca, whose opening 20 minutes in the first leg were described as a "storm" by Wenger, have their own injury and suspension concerns.

Striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who netted both their goals against Arsenal, is out of the clash at the Nou Camp as is their suspended defensive pairing of Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique.

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In Tuesday's other quarter-final, CSKA Moscow will be hoping their artificial pitch will provide a much-needed advantage to overcome a 1-0 deficit against dominant Inter Milan from the first leg and become the first Russian side to reach the Champions League semi-finals.

The hosts though will be without suspended midfielders Milos Krasic and Yevgeny Aldonin.

Inter coach Jose Mourinho, who will be able to field a full-strength team, will be glad to have Brazil central defender Lucio and his midfield compatriot Thiago Motta back after serving suspensions last week.

Mourinho's options also include 19-year-old forward Mario Balotelli, who scored on Saturday after spending a month on the sidelines following a row with the Portuguese manager.

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