Manchester City vs Barcelona: Samir Nasri believes City showed 'too much respect' last season, but won't make the same mistake

City suffered defeat at this stage last year but midfielder Nasri believes they are much better placed to challenge the Catalan side

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The Independent Online

Manchester City’s Samir Nasri said today that his side had shown Barcelona too much respect in last season’s Champions League round of 16 game at the Etihad and would not make the same mistake twice.

The Frenchman’s manager Manuel Pellegrini, who played one man up front and Aleksandar Kolarov on the left wing in a performance against the Catalan side last February which elicited only three City shots on target, denied that he had been too cautious back then. But Nasri, whose honesty and candour about City has become a refreshing part of this season, said that the club must show more ambition and less respect as they faced the same opposition at the Etihad tomorrow night.

“Yeah, I think we respect[ed] them too much,” the 26-year-old said. “But we weren’t experienced to compete with a club like this. They know how to win a Champions League. I think it was too much of a big game. We were not ready. This year is totally different. We know what we are capable of.”

 

City have never beaten top European opposition in this competition when there has been something at stake for the opposing side and Nasri said that City needed to beat Luis Enrique’s side to engender a love of the competition for their own supporters. He admitted City fans had not fallen in love with the competition.

 “Yeah, I think [that is] so because we have a lot of success in the Premier League so the fans are really passionate about that. [In] the Champions League we need to create our history to have a special relationship with the fans. A game like Barcelona can be a [boost] in the competition.”

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Nasri challenges Fabregas during last season's round of 16 clash

The aura felt by players who face Barcelona was clear in Nasri’s description of Lionel Messi, today. “I think Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo play in their own galaxy,” Nasri declared. “They compete with each other. The rest, [Luis] Suarez and Neymar are the same level as Sergio [Aguero]. Sergio when he is fit can lift the team and score goals.”  The player revealed the same level of respect for tomorrow’s opposition when Spanish journalists asked him which of the Barca side’s players he felt he was most akin to.

“I think that Messi is on another galaxy,” he repeated. “Xavi and Iniesta were the best midfield in the world for six or seven years. I like the way they play. I prefer [Andres] Iniesta to Xavi [Hernandez] because Xavi keeps the ball better but Iniesta can do more things. It is too pretentious to compare myself to them!”

Pellegrini said little of significance beyond confirming that James Milner would be fit to play Barcelona. Asked if playing Kolarov had been overly defensive in last season’s Etihad game – which turned on the 53rd minute dismissal of Martin Demichelis, he was dismissive. “No I don’t think last year we changed our [usual] style,” he said, reflecting on the tie City lost 4-1 on aggregate. “Maybe we couldn’t do what we tried to do. We tried to play with our style in another way. We always try to attack and we couldn’t do it in that game. This year we are trying to do what we always do.”

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Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini

Barcelona’s Gerard Pique is expected to discuss the game publicly at 6pm this evening, alongside manager Luis Enrique, who enters the game under renewed pressure after an 11-game winning run was ended by a shock home defeat to Malaga at the weekend

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