Barcelona will tonight face Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium for the reverse fixture of their Group C games in the UEFA Champions
League after the Spanish giants defeated the Citizens 4-0 in their own backyard at the Camp Nou. Both come into tonight’s game off a victory last weekend over Granada and West Bromwich Albion respectively.
Barcelona dominate the head-to-head between these two as they have won all five meetings between them, scored 11 goals and conceded only two so it comes as no surprise that they are favorites to win. However football is an unpredictable game and anything can happen.
The UEFA Champions League is a competition of comebacks either in the group stages or the knockout rounds and as shown by Deportivo La Coruna who came back from a 4-1 deficit against AC Milan to win 4-0 in the 2003/04 quarter finals, also by Panathiakos who lost to Inter in the first leg of the group stages of the 2008/09 edition but went on to beat the Italian giants 1-0 and go on to top the group.
Arsenal also in 2003/04 started with a 3-0 loss to Inter Milan in the group stage but went on to beat them 5-1 in the second leg.
Beating Barcelona might be a herculean task but it is a possibility and NewsLegend.com.ng’s OJO BAMIJI looks at the four reasons why Manchester City can beat Barcelona.
Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba, all important first team members are out of this clash and due to this,
Manchester City can match the Barcelona line up especially in the midfield where Iniesta could be sorely missed. If
David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and co can bring their A game then they can control the midfield and stop the
distribution of play to Messi, Suarez and Neyman (MSN).
Also Jeremy Mathieu is suspended alongside Claudio Bravo for Manchester City but the injury and suspension list does
not favor Barcelona as Gerard Pique’s experience would also be missed. Samuel Umtiti and Javier Mascherano (their
replacements) are no pushovers though.
2. BARCELONA HAVE THEIR OFF DAYS
They may not be too common but Luis Enrique’s side have their off days and it has been evidenced this season by
Celta Vigo and Alaves who have beaten them this term. Manchester City just have to be fully concentrated and wait to
see if this would be one of those days. If this can happen and City gets the first goal, it can be vital for them
in this game as they can build and grow in confidence on this. Manchester City can take Alaves as a model for
winning this game, their victory was not exactly a smash and grab, Alaves frustrated their hosts defensively but
they had more than their fair share of chances on the counter-attack at the other end. They did it with attacking
football mixed with a stubborn defence. City need to be strong at the back Tuesday night but they should be
confident that chances will come for them.
3. PEP GUARDIOLA
If there is any coach that first comes to mind when the term “Tiki Taka’’ comes up anywhere, it is Pep Guardiola.
His appointment and Lionel Messi’s rise to prominence coincided with one of the greatest team play we have seen in
However since his move away from the Catalan giants, Guardiola has not been able to defeat the monster he created.
The Barcelona legend has to get his tactics absolutely right if Manchester City want to have a chance of winning
Using De Bruyne as a false nine did not seem to work out the last time out; Sergio Aguero got back on the scoresheet
in the past weekend twice and should be given a chance to go against a young Samuel Umtiti deputizing for the
injured Gerard Pique. Barcelona is the king of Tiki-Taka and it is going to be hard to beat them at their own game
so Guardiola might have to come up with another system for this.
Pep Guardiola needs to make sure his men are disciplined in this fixture. Out of five games, City has only finished this
fixture with 11 men just once; on all other occasions, they have finished the game with a red card.
Even in the last meeting earlier this month, they still had a chance in the game till Claudio Bravo carelessly
handled the ball after a mistake and was shown a straight red card.
Martin Demichelis, Gael Clichy and Pablo Zabaleta have seen red in previous outings. Beating Barcelona is a tough
enough task with eleven men but with a man advantage for the Catalans, things get even tougher.
In conclusion, despite all these reasons, Barcelona still remain favorites to win this game and end up leaders of
group due to that lethal trio (MSN) in front but if City can get off to a strong start, a win is