A titanic confrontation as Europe’s two supreme attacking forces face off for a place in the quarter-finals.
After the disappointment of previous European campaigns, Manuel Pellegrini has been able to do what Roberto Mancini never could: replicate City’s irrepressible domestic form on the continental stage. It will not be lost on Barcelona that in the group stages City were more than a match for Bayern Munich, who so comprehensively dismantled the Blaugrana in last season’s semis.
Barca have plenty of European pedigree, having won this competition three times in the last eight seasons, but since the departure of Pep Guardiola their aura of invincibility has slipped. A shaky group-stage campaign, including a humbling defeat to ten-man Ajax, confirmed that Tata Martino’s side no longer bestride the European landscape quite as colossally as they once did.
But Barcelona have abundant experience of big European nights like these, while Pellegrini’s arrivistes have none. And Lionel Messi and co remain a fearsome attacking contingent, with ten goals in their last two games underlining Barcelona’s continued potency. City will not fear their visitors. But they underestimate them at their peril.
KICK OFF: Tuesday, 7.45pm
Barcelona 0 Manchester City 1 (Petrov), Pre-season friendly, August 2009
Of the last ten Champions League meetings between English clubs and Spanish clubs, English clubs have won 4, with their Spanish counterparts claiming just 2 wins.
Lionel Messi has scored 6 goals in his last 6 games against English opposition.
Manchester City average 3.5 goals at home this season, the equal highest in Europe’s top five leagues, while Barcelona average 2.25 goals away.
The last two goals scored by English clubs against Spanish clubs in the Champions League have both been own goals (Inigo Martinez for Real Sociedad, and Sergio Ramos for Real Madrid, both against Manchester United).
In their last match (against Rayo Vallecano), Barcelona recorded more goals (6) than crosses (5), the first such instance in La Liga this season.
Manchester City to win: 2.87
Barcelona to win: 2.37
TV: Live on ITV at 7.30pm, highlights at 10.35pm.
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