Manchester City’s minor woes in the Premier League are forgotten for one night; they have bigger problems than that! Barcelona await their arrival in the Camp Nou, ready to defend a 100% record against the Premier League leaders.
The pair have been familiar foes with the Catalans knocking City out for two consecutive seasons in 2014 and 2015 quarter-finals.
Guardiola will be hoping for a better homecoming than he endured as Bayern Munich manager. The Germans were taken apart in 2015’s semi-final, losing 3 – 0 in Catalunya and it could have been worse.
City are wobbling in the Premier League, their defeat to Tottenham followed by a draw at home to Everton. Two missed penalties cost them dearly in a game they should have won. A change of scenery and competition will, Guardiola hopes, do them good.
Europe is proving to be an equally mixed bag. Borussia Monchengladbach were swept aside 4 – 0 in the opening group game but the first signs of City’s vulnerabilities came at Parkhead when Celtic held them to a 3 – 3 draw.
Tonight is a stiff test for the Mancunians mentality, as well their technical abilities. Since their ten match winning start came to an end at Celtic, they haven’t won. The biggest task facing Guardiola and his staff is to ensure that avoiding defeat tonight isn’t lumped into the same group as a winless streak. A point tonight will be a fantastic result.
There are no superlatives left for Barcelona but amid their strength, vulnerabilities are waiting to be exposed. With a strikeforce of Messi, Suarez and Neymar Jr, goals won’t be a problem but defending is another matter.
Celta put four past them a fortnight ago and Saturday’s win over Deportivo was only their third clean sheet in La Liga this season. When you’ve scored 26 goals in 8 games, maybe that isn’t such a big problem after all. And that’s before we look at the 14 goals in 4 other competitive games.
Worryingly for City, Messi is back but as importantly is Samuel Umtiti, who was on the bench at the weekend. Sergi Roberto is expected to return tonight so Luis Enrique has plenty of options to choose from.
FORM (Last five games)
Manchester City: WWDLD
- City have lost the four previous meetings between both sides.
- Barcelona have won their last twelve home Champions League games in a row.
- Liverpool are the only English club to have won in the Camp Nou in a competitive match.
- Kevin De Bruyne has provided 7 assists (4 in the PL, 3 in CL) for City this season.
- Neymar Jr leads Barcelona assists in the Champions League, 5 in the 2 group games so far.
CURRENT MATCH ODDS [BEST PRICED ODDS]
HEAD TO HEAD
Last four meetings in this fixture
18.02.2014 Manchester City 0-2 Barcelona
12.03.2014 Barcelona 2-1 Manchester City
24.02.2015 Manchester City 1-2 Barcelona
18.03.2015 Barcelona 1-0 Manchester City
Barcelona are overwhelming favourites with everyone and with recent form, City seem unlikely to trouble them. Pep Guardiola will be grateful the game isn’t played on paper as on grass, they have more of a chance than they are being given credit for.
The biggest problem facing City is keeping a clean sheet – only Bournemouth have failed to score against them. The fabled MSN frontline will fancy their chances of a goal but with Aguero and De Bruyne, complacency may be Barcelona’s biggest weakness.
MY RECOMMENDED BETS
- Kevin De Bruyne to score first (13/1 with Unibet)
- Andres Iniesta as an anytime goalscorer (7/1 with Stan James)
- Barcelona / Draw in HT / FT market (19/1 with Bet Victor)
- City to miss a penalty in match – they’ve missed 4 this season already! (28/1 with Bet 365)
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Francois is one of Howtobet4free’s co-founders and has written many of Howtobet4free’s popular Betting Guides. Francois also helps run the @howtobet4free_ Twitter account