Man City v Barcelona Preview

UEFA Champions League | Tuesday February 18 | Etihad Stadium | 21:45




Tuesday night sees Manchester City and Barcelona face off in one of the most hotly anticipated matchups of this year's Champions League.

These two clubs have met on six previous occasions, but all of those were friendly encounters.

Barcelona were in fact the first team to visit the Etihad Stadium for a match back in 2003, as City came out on top 2-1 thanks to goals from Nicolas Anelka and Trevor Sinclair.

To Win (90mins)
Man City 18/10 
Draw 24/10 
Barcelona 27/20

MANCHESTER CITY

Manchester City sent a statement of intent to Barcelona with their 2-0 FA Cup win over league leaders Chelsea on Saturday.

The Citizens will now turn their attentions to the Champions League which has been unkind to them ever since they returned to the competition.

Manuel Pellegrini has already led the English giants past the Champions League group stage for the first time in their history, but their lack of European pedigree will get a stiff examination when the Chilean is reunited with his old La Liga rivals.

Yaya Toure's attacking qualities have grown far beyond anything ever managed during his days at the Camp Nou, and the Ivorian's assets going forward will be needed if Pellegrini's men are to move past their Catalan counterparts.

The Sky Blues will not out-pass Barcelona in a tactical chess match, but if Toure drives his team forward he can single-handedly ruin Barca's rhythm.

City could get great joy down the flanks, with Jesus Navas’ pace a real weapon on the counter-attack.

Sergio Aguero has returned to training following a short stint on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, but if he does feature, it's likely to be as a substitute.

The same goes for Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho, who has been suffering with a thigh problem.

However, there is more positive news for Pellegrini in the form of Samir Nasri, who returned from a five-week layoff with a knee complaint to score against Chelsea in the FA Cup.

Consequently, he could be reinstated to the team, particularly if City's Chilean boss opts to use a 4-5-1 formation rather than a 4-4-2.

Alvaro Negredo has been suffering from an arm injury and was left on the bench against Chelsea, but should lead the line on Tuesday night.

City are only accustomed to failure in the Champions League and although that will change at some point, it’s a disadvantage.

BARCELONA

Barcelona warmed up for its highly anticipated Champions League clash with Manchester City with a
6-0 thrashing of Rayo Vallecano to remain on top of La Liga on goal difference.

Barca will be aiming to take their impressive league form into the Champions League on Tuesday night.

Andres Iniesta is the puppeteer in midfield, pulling the strings in attack and creating chance after chance even when his pass is not the final one before the ball is dispatched into the back of the net.

Cesc Fabregas has been in good form of late.

He will cause City all sorts of problems with his free roaming, dropping deeper to involve himself in play and getting further forward when Barca have possession to both create and score goals.

His runs and where he receives the ball are reminiscent of the old Arsenal days, with greater variety in the areas he collects the ball and more chance to be anarchic.

Barcelona were boosted by Neymar's appearance against Rayo Vallecano last time out.

The Brazilian had been expected to miss this clash with an ankle injury, but he came off the bench to score in the 6-0 win over Rayo, although he may have to settle for a place among the substitutes again.

Midfielder Xavi was rested for the Rayo rout, but Gerardo Martino is expected to recall the 34-year-old for the trip to England.

Jordi Alba and Dani Alves offer a lot going forward. Sometimes when you watch them play, they’re almost auxiliary wingers.

However, both of them are susceptible to defensive mistakes, particularly positional errors.

If Barcelona stick to their guns and come out with the attitude we’ve come to expect from them, they could overload City from the start.

Betting Prediction: MAN CITY 18/10
Barcelona will be facing a team that is far more physical than any squad that they have faced in the Spanish League and I expect physicality to play a huge role in this tie. City know they have the firepower to exploit the Barcelona defence. Alvaro Negredo, David Silva, Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri are all capable of hurting opposition back lines. Although it promises to be a difficult task for the Sky Blues, I'm backing them to claim a much needed victory at 18/10.

Written by Chadley Nagel for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

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