Stoke City can be 'tougher' than Barcelona - Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany plays down Champions League test

The sides meet in the first-leg of their Round of 16 Champions League tie on Tuesday

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Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany believes Stoke City can provide a tougher test than what Champions League opponents Barcelona pose.

The Spanish side come to the Etihad on Tuesday for the first-leg of their Round of 16 tie but despite the star named and huge reputation that Lionel Messi and Co bring with them, Kompany holds no fear.

That's despite Manchester City being outgunned by Barca at the same stage of the competition last season, losing 4-1 on aggregate and having players sent off in both legs.

But City go into their latest meeting in good heart after reinvigorating their domestic title defence with a 5-0 thrashing of Newcastle on Saturday.

Barca could still boast world stars Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez in their forward line but Kompany is confident City can stand up to the challenge.

The influential defender said: "The next game is a massive one now and it's one of those - if you have a good day it can be a special night. So we have to prepare and I think everyone is ready for it.

"We don't fear them. You don't go in at this level fearing strikers.

"We want to play against them. It's the fourth time in a year now. There's nothing new to worry us, it's a case of having the whole team at a very high level."

With City's emphatic win over Newcastle coming after a 4-1 win at Stoke, the mood at Eastlands has been transformed after an indifferent start to the new year.

Chelsea had stretched seven points ahead at the top of the Premier League but the deficit has now been trimmed to five.

 

But even though things have improved on the home front, Kompany accepts Europe and Barcelona are completely different entities and a different approach will be required.

The 28-year-old said: "They're a special team with special players.

"I think their ability is not about hurting you all game - you can have tougher games when you go to Stoke City - it's about the fact they can decide a game within a second. They have more players than anyone else in the world who can finish games with a touch of magic.

"But I've come into football to play these games. The moment I'm feeling reluctant to play in these games I'm not in the right place. This is what I want."

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Kompany

 

City are anxious to make their mark in the Champions League to maintain the progress that has seen them win two Premier League titles in the past three seasons.

Their development in Europe has been slower than domestically, with this season being only the second time they have reached the Champions League knockout stages.

But Kompany said: "Our team has been proving our determination in recent years.

"We've always come back. We're putting in a fight again for the Premier League and we'll put in a fight for the Champions League too.

"The history of this club tells you that in the past six years we always keep progressing. It's only a matter of time."

Additional reporting by PA

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