Press preview Barcelona
- 18 February 2014 07:53
- Posted by @porter_mcfc
Barca, Barca, Barca. The day has arrived…
Yes, tonight City will take on Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League, and fever has set in across the footballing world.
James Robson writes: “Barcelona’s aura has dipped since Guardiola exited the Nou Camp for a sabbatical in 2012 – a 7-0 aggregate defeat to Bayern last year emphatically signalling a passing of the torch in terms of Continental supremacy.
“But they still clinched the Spanish title by 15 points over Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid.
“Gerardo Martino – appointed last summer – still has many of the glittering stars who illuminated Guardiola’s time, and he has added Brazilian football’s latest golden boy Neymar.
“In short, Barcelona remain a fearsome prospect for any team with ambitions of Champions League glory.
“For City, they are just the latest super power to cross their path since their recent invitation to European football’s top table.
“Bayern, Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund have provided daunting opposition as City have had to learn on the job.
“Witnessing their 3-1 defeat at home to Bayern in October, it looked like it could be another chastening campaign.
“Instead they face Barca having thrilled the Premier League with their ferocious attacking football and Pellegrini’s sense of adventure.
“The 5-1 victory against Tottenham last month had observers suggesting it would be the Catalans quaking, rather than City.”
So, in conclusion, both teams are pretty good then?
Acknowledging Robson’s point that perhaps the Barcelona fear factor is not as strong as it was, Gerard Pique sees this game as a good chance to restore it.
The former Manchester United defender reckons that beating City will show that the Catalan giants are still the best side around – which is quite a compliment, when you think about it!
Pique told the press: “The only way we have to speak is on the pitch. We know that in the last six months there were some things that we cannot control as players.
"All we can do is show the world that we can still be the best and try to play a great game against a great team with great players like Manchester City."
“Maybe teams don’t fear us as much as before because in the last two years we didn’t win the Champions League but they still respect us and we still have players who won the World Cup, European Championship and the Champions League. We want to show have to show the world that we can still be the best by winning here.”
The Barcelona manager, Gerardo Martino, has echoed his player’s thoughts on City’s strengths, and while he might be biased towards the Spanish element of the team (nice bit of solidarity there), he also highlighted the talents of our midfield stars.
Martino said: “I don’t think City are a mini Barcelona or a mini any team.
“I think they are one of the greatest teams in the world."
...Gerardo Martino on City...
“It could have been a final.
“It would be ideal if we meet them later, maybe in the last eight.”
Both sides being very respectful of each other ahead of the first leg…
...And finally, we welcome back Jose Mourinho to the media round-up (again). Ahead of Barcelona, I hear you cry?
Well, yes. The Chelsea boss has had his say on the tie and has been less than complimentary about the Catalan side – mind games, or a former Real Madrid manager remembering an old rivalry? I’ll leave that one to you to decide.
Kevin Palmer notes on ESPN.co.uk: “Former Real Madrid boss Mourinho rarely offers up too many positive comments to offer when the subject of Barcelona is thrust in his direction, but was especially uncomplimentary towards the Catalan giants when handed the chance to give his views of the first leg encounter at the Etihad Stadium between City and Barca.
"‘I think this is the worst Barcelona of many, many years, so City have a chance,’ the Chelsea manager told ITV Sport. ‘Of course, by history, Barcelona is the favourite, but this Barcelona, this season, is showing that it is not the same in previous years.
"‘Of course they have [Lionel] Messi, he is special, and they have more than him, but this is the worst team they have had for many years.’"
I wonder what size of horse they are, then…
Anyway, it’s sure to be a fantastic occasion at the Etihad stadium and I know a few counting down the hours… myself among them.
Come on City!