Barcelona v Manchester City: Vincent Kompany draws on 2012 title glory to fire Champions League revival at the Nou Camp

Captain recounts the two injury-time goals against QPR which led to City clinching the 2011-12 Premier League title as evidence that anything can happen ahead of Barca tie

barcelona

In a corner of this city's stellar football theatre, there is a reminder of the strides Manchester City must still take to arrive in the pantheon of European football.

Though bricks and mortar do not mean everything in sport, the temporary exhibition of Barcelona's planned Nou Camp expansion reveals a most spectacular vision of the future: an expanded, 105,000-capacity stadium whose illumination will create a multi-coloured orb in the Catalonian night. The means of finance – €200m (£167m) in bank loans – raises some questions in an economically crippled nation. But the grainy exhibition images, charting the road Barcelona have travelled since their stadium was built in 1957, are a reminder of how early in their journey City still are.

The footbridge linking the Etihad Stadium to their own lavish training complex and youth academy was recently opened. But the commentary to the Nou Camp exhibition observed that "our competitors are playing in new or remodelled stadiums" – picturing stadia like the Etihad, the Emirates, Allianz Arena, Juventus Stadium and, oddly, Old Trafford – which it does not considers to possess a sense of place quite like their own.

Of course, reputations are not immutable in football. Manchester United have demonstrated how quickly achievements can be consigned to ashes.

There is no disguising what City are up against as they take the 2-0 home defeat into the second leg. Never in Champions League and European Cup history has a side lost 2-0 in a home leg and still progressed and only two of the 58 teams who have found themselves in such straits in all European competition have prevailed. (It was in the Uefa Cup that Bayern Munich and Grasshoppers Zurich broke that mould.)

Follow all the news and updates from our live blog here

But the way that City can play when the shackles are off creates grounds for their optimism, which is in contrast to the sense of local pessimism which washes around this place today.

The barrage of negative questions fielded by coach Gerardo Martino and midfielder Javier Mascherano was astonishing to behold and it was fuelled by the Real Madrid paper Marca's cover story on Las horas mas bajas de Messi – "the lowest ebb of Messi" – with statistics to bear out the generally held sentiment here that the 26-year-old really has lost energy and activity in games.

His actions per match – for those who attach significance to these things – have fallen from 101.56 per game in 2011-12 to nearly 66 now. With some of his youthful freedom gone, the warning that Pep Guardiola once issued are ringing around Catalonia: "We must ensure that Messi is not bored in games."

Vincent Kompany was on the front foot in his own ebullient press conference, warning against reading too much into Barcelona's three league defeats in six. "It's tricky," he said. "You focus on that and then the beast wakes up." But the captain also summoned the memory of that comebacks to confound all others – the two injury-time goals against Queen's Park Rangers which led to City clinching their 2011-12 Premier League title – as evidence that anything can happen.

"Emotionally it's a tough ask, but emotionally you won't beat how we beat QPR and if anything gives you belief in chasing late causes then it should be that," he said. "Our team is stronger now than it was then. We are here to try to have one of those great nights."

Stirring stuff from an impressive character and the way Kompany was talking about "my strikers" gave the impression that he, rather than Manuel Pellegrini's assistant Ruben Cousillas, will be a surrogate for the Chilean, who will be absent from the dug-out, serving a touchline ban for his criticism of the Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson after the first leg.

Pellegrini left Cousillas to do the pre-match press conference, too, something the No 2 insisted was not out of pique with Uefa's two-match ban. "He was sanctioned for wrongly saying the truth," Cousillas said. "The decisions are [still] made by Manuel. I'm just his collaborator." City sources said that Uefa had approved Pellegrini's absence.

Kompany revealed more about City's intentions than his manager would ever have done, indicating that there certainly would be more attacking intent from the start than we saw in a more cautious approach at the Etihad, which worked until Martin Demichelis's dismissal. "Conceding a goal is not as bad as not scoring," Kompany reflected. "I still think we will have to score three goals across the period in 90 or 120 minutes. We can think we have nothing to lose. If we get a lead, the dynamics will change. To say we can't take the lead – no one will put any money on that."

City's concern is the way that the goals which were flowing for three months have dried up. For the first 36 games of their season, they were averaging over three a game but it has narrowed to one per game in the last seven. Alvaro Negredo, who has been carrying a shoulder injury, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko have not scored for a combined 907 minutes and the only striker to have done so in the last seven games is Stefan Jovetic, who misses the match through injury, along with Matija Nastasic.

"I will tell you one thing," Kompany said of all that, "I'm just really happy they are on my side. We are looking to the future. It might just be [their night]."

As they walk from dressing room to pitch, City's players will be reminded of what it is to reach the heights of the greats. The corridor they pass through is adorned with a mural depicting Barcelona's 2006 Champions League triumph over Arsenal in Paris and 1992 European Cup glory against Sampdoria at Wembley. City do not look like a side who will be cowed by that. They are unlikely to die wondering how it might have been, going all out for a comeback like none other in one of football's greatest venues.

Ibrahimovic still wants part in PSG stroll

Even though Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been hindered by a sore back and could do with a rest, the Paris Saint-Germain coach, Laurent Blanc, will not do without the prolific striker for the second leg against Bayer Leverkusen.

PSG hold a 4-0 lead heading into the home leg of the last-16 tie and it seems to be the perfect time to give the Swede a night off. But Ibrahimovic, who scored a hat-trick at the BayArena and has 38 goals in all competitions this season, is in the form of his life. "We'll have to protect him a bit, but Zlatan always wants to play," said Blanc. "I know what his answer will be."

Suggested Topics
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower