Manchester City tackle Barcelona at the Nou Camp tonight – next time Kolo Touré wants it to be for real. With scheduled Premier League opponents Everton on Europa League duty, the Blues have found themselves with a gap in their schedule.
Mark Hughes has filled it with an encounter against the best side in Europe – Barcelona having won the Champions League last May with a clinical destruction of Manchester United in Rome.
Touré knows what that feeling is like, even if it took two late goals from Barça to overhaul his Arsenal side in 2006. The Ivory Coast star left the Emirates this summer to reinforce City's defences as they look to make a big imprint on the game.
And one of the targets he has set for the Blues is to face the Catalans in Champions League combat. "That is my dream and something I want to be part of," he said. "People here are working very hard to get there. We saw it happen with Chelsea, why not Manchester City?"
The Blues started this season off on the right foot with a two-goal triumph at Blackburn on Saturday. Touré produced an effective performance on his debut at Ewood Park, since when City have kept a low profile in their pursuit of Joleon Lescott.
Hughes remains keen to bring the England star to Eastlands and forge a partnership with Touré, and various loan options have been mentioned in a bid to break the impasse.
With less than two weeks before the transfer window closes and Phil Jagielka nursing a cruciate injury that will keep him on the sidelines beyond Christmas, the prospect of Richard Dunne returning to Goodison Park might be appealing, although Moyes has so far given no indication of being willing to strike a deal despite Lescott's desire to leave. In the meantime, Touré will face his brother Yaya – suspended in 2006 – for the first time.
"It will be the first time I have played against my brother for Barcelona, and it will be a great game," said the older Touré. "We talk a lot. We didn't talk about me coming to City at first but when I was signing and told him I was coming here and he was quite happy."
New signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic is poised to make his Barcelona debut after recovering from hand surgery.
Barcelona medical staff said that Ibrahimovic and fellow international Lionel Messi would both be available for the match after recovering from separate injuries.
"He looks good, he's adapted well to the team," coach Pep Guardiola said yesterday of Ibrahimovic, who has recovered from surgery on a broken bone in his left hand. "We're thinking he'll play a little bit tomorrow, so he can recover the rhythm that has been missing [due to injury]."
Barcelona paid Internazionale a reported €66m (£56m) for Ibrahimovic, with Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o forming part of the deal.
Messi recovered from an injury to his left leg that had kept him out of a 2-1 Spanish Super Cup first-leg victory over Athletic Bilbao on Sunday and an Argentina friendly last week.
Midfielder Andres Iniesta, who is still recovering from a leg injury, will likely be unavailable for the European and Spanish champions, however.
"Andres is doing better, but he had a virus that affected him a lot during the holidays and he lost a lot of kilograms," Guardiola said. "He couldn't train well and the death of [Espanyol's Daniel] Jarque also affected him a lot. But little by little he is improving and he should with us shortly."
With centre-back Rafael Marquez also recovering from a knee injury, Guardiola expects the club to make more signings before the transfer window closes on 31 August.
"We still need to make one or two more signings but, whatever happens, that won't be an excuse," Guardiola said. "If players come, fine. If not, that's not a problem because the ones we have are good." Guardiola said he will use players from the "B" team if the club doesn't sign any more players.
Barcelona won an unprecedented treble of Champions League, Spanish league and Copa del Rey titles last season.Reuse content