Barcelona have “two or three players who transform normal life into art”, says Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
The Gunners went out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage for the sixth straight season after a 5-1 aggregate loss against Barcelona.
The La Liga side’s front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez were all on target.
“In the final third, Barcelona’s passing accuracy and creativity is exceptional,” said Wenger.
‘At 1-1, Barca were wobbling’
Arsenal missed numerous chances in the game, with Danny Welbeck hitting the woodwork and Alexis Sanchez twice coming close.
Having also gone out of the FA Cup in a shock defeat against Watford last weekend, the Premier League is Arsenal’s only hope of a trophy this season. They are currently 11 points behind leaders Leicester with a game in hand.
Wenger feels the result could have been different if they managed to add to Mohamed Elneny’s crisp effort in the second half.
“I felt at 1-1 they were wobbling and insecure,” said Wenger. “We could not take our chance to score the second goal to put ourselves in a good position.
“We created plenty of dangerous situations and the quality of our game was good.
“When we lost the second goal, we lost the edge. They are an exceptional side.”
‘Pleasure for others, suffering for me’
Messi’s delightful dinked finish took his tally to 37 for the season in all competitions, while Neymar netted his 28th and Suarez’s superb volley was his 46th goal this term.
“We played against a team who has the best strikers I have seen,” added Wenger. “The three together are absolutely exceptional.
“From nothing, they can create a chance, especially Messi. He didn’t miss a first touch, no matter where the ball came from.
“At some stage in our sport, we must admire art and they have two or three players who transform normal life into art. I respect that and I believe it is pleasure as well. For me, is it suffering.”
How Arsenal’s season has unravelled
Back in early January, Arsenal fans were dreaming of a trophy-laden season.
The Gunners were top of the Premier League, safely into the Champions League last 16 – albeit with Barcelona looming – and making progress into the FA Cup fourth round.
But conceding a late leveller at Liverpool on 13 January proved the catalyst for a dreadful run of form.
Wenger’s men have managed to win just two of their nine Premier League matches since, leaving them well adrift of leaders Leicester.
If falling away in the title race is not hard enough for Gunners fans to take, their misery has been compounded by a double cup exit in the space of four days.
Failing to overcome a two-goal deficit against Barcelona may not have been a surprise. But, following Sunday’s home quarter-final defeat against Watford, it has done little to ease mounting pressure on Wenger.