Etihad Stadium, Manchester
February 24th, 2015; 08:45 CET
Man City host FC Barcelona in one of the most anticipated clash of 2015 at Etihad Stadium tonight and Luis Enriquea s men would be eager to book their place into the quarter finals of UEFA Champions League for eighth year in a row, at the expense of current English champions.
Manuel Pelligrinia s Man City were knocked out by FC Barcelona at the same stage of the tournament last year and they will be hoping for a revenge this time around. But the task ahead of them is not easy at all.
FC Barcelonaa s 11 game winning streak was ended by Malaga at Camp Nou on last weekend but coach Luis Enrique would be hoping for a strong comeback from his players at Etihad Stadium tonight.
Team News and Tactics
Man City were knocked out by FC Barcelona in the second round of the Champions League last year and their fans want a revenge this time around.
Man City secured their first win at their home ground since the New Year day on last weekend and coach Manuel Pelligrini would be expecting a similar performance from his players tonight.
The strikers of Man City were struggling to score goals in first two months of 2015 but they have found their rhythm back it seems as they have scored 9 goals in their last 2 encounters.
Manuel Pelligrini may have to make to do without James Milner, who missed the Newcastle match with a knee injury, while Yaya Toure is already ruled out of this encounter against his former club FC Barcelona as he concludes a suspension following his dismissal against CSKA Moscow.
The defenders of Man City will have to remain on alert throughout the game as this attack of FC Barcelona, comprising of Leo Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, is arguably the best in the world and capable of scoring goals at will.
Going into this game, Man City coach Manuel Pelligrini has asked his players to settle for nothing but a win as they will have to play the second leg tie at noisy Camp Nou.
“At this stage of the competition when you play over 180 minutes it is very important to win the first game. After that, try not to concede goals here at home. If you can’t draw, 0-0 is better than 1-1,” said Pellegrini at his pre-match press conference.
“It’s important to try to win here. But our team is also demonstrating we are playing better away than we did last year.
“The main thing for our team is to try to fight for the possession of the ball, that’s very important. We need to have the ball as long as we can. After that, give good distribution to take Barcelona as near to their box as we can.”
Predicted Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Hart; Zabaleta, Mangala, Kompany, Clichy; Fernando, Fernandinho; Nasri, Silva, Navas; Aguero.
FC Barcelona were looking in great touch until last weekend when they suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Malaga. The Andalusians ended the 11 match winning streak of FC Barcelona and coach Luis Enrique would be hoping for swift response from his players against Man City tonight.
FC Barcelona dominated the game against Malaga from start to end but the attacking trio of Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez failed to create any meaningful chances in the entire game. This might add to the worries of Luis Enrique but the coach is also aware that his strikers are capable of finding their rhythm soon enough.
The defence of FC Barcelona has looked much improved in the new-year but they made some silly mistakes in a game against Malaga and they will have to ensure that those errors wona t happen again tonight as Man City strikers are more than capable of punishing them in a very ruthless way.
On the injury front, the only concern for coach Luis Enrique is defender Jordi Alba, who trained alone on Sunday following a knock.
Meanwhile, midfielder Andres Iniesta has said that FC Barcelona are not the favorites to progress at the expense of Man City and the players must avoid complicacy to secure all important win at Etihad Stadium.
“We are at a great level but that shouldn’t make us complacent. The fact we’re going through a good period doesn’t make us favourites,” Iniesta said.
“The Champions League is a very demanding competition and we will be up against a team full of really great players. Just a couple of mistakes can make us lose the tie so we will just enjoy this moment and try to keep up.
“The Champions League’s a great competition where everybody tries to get as far as possible. It will be very difficult, we will do our game and then will see what happens.”
Predicted Starting Line-up (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Suarez, Messi, Neymar.
Man City 1-2 FC Barcelona
The current form of Many City in the English Premier League looks good but UEFA Champions League is altogether a different ball game. The three man attack comprising of Leo Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar of FC Barcelona looks extremely dangerous and it would be a big surprise if Man City avoids defeat at Etihad Stadium tonight.
Players To Watch Out For
Leo Messi failed to score against Malaga on Saturday but Champions League is a favorite hunting ground of the little master and he would be eager to score in England and answer his critics who still keep raising doubts over his ability to score in the English conditions.
In the absence of Yaya Toure, Kun Aguero is going to be the most important player of Man City and he will have to score tonight if Man City to have any realistic chance of progressing into the net round of the Champions League.
Blast From The Past