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
Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
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.

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on