For the second year running Manchester City have been drawn against Barcelona in the last 16 stage of the Champions League after getting through the group stage that saw them drawn with Cska and Bayern Munich for the second year running and they are no doubt cursing their luck.
Last season Pellegrini’s side were comfortably beaten at the hands of Barcelona losing 2-0 at the Etihad and then 2-1 at the Nou Camp, making it a 4-1 aggregate defeat and once again end their participation in the Champions League a lot earlier than they would have liked.
This year however, despite all the self pitying that will undoubtedly be happening amongst the City players and fans, this big fixture gives them a big chance to prove themselves in Europe, they made a statement in the group stages when they beat Bayern 3-2 and most recently knocked out Roma after beating them 2-0 at the Stadio Olimpico but no result would make a bigger statement than knocking the Spanish giants out.
The challenge is made harder by the fact they must travel to the Nou Camp in the second leg because of their 2nd place finish in the group stages but it is doable. Who can forget when Chelsea knocked the Catalan giants out in the Semi-final back in 11/12 with Torres’ late goal securing the win that brought them to the final which they famously won under Roberto Di Matteo.
Liverpool and Manchester United have also been able to knock Barcelona sides in the past ten years, so although it’s a massive task English sides have proven that they are capable on their day of knocking Barcelona out.
Winning this tie will depend majorly on whether or not City will have a full strength team, injury-prone Sergio Aguero and current absentee Kompany will need to be fit for the game if City are to have any realistic hope of progressing.
Coming up against the front trio of Suarez, Neymar and of course Lionel Messi will be a huge test for the Manchester side but one they are sure to relish, these are the ties that make European football worth being involved in and as they say if you want to win you have to beat the best teams.