MEN: "We can beat Barca," says Samir
- 14 February 2014 07:42
- Posted by @NieldyMCFC
It’s a mixed bag of news, speculation and gossip this Valentine’s Day as we prepare for two games in four days that could be pivotal in shaping the rest of the Blues' promising season...
The Manchester Evening News’ Stuart Brennan reports that the returning Samir Nasri believes City have what it takes to knock-out Catalan giants Barcelona in the the UEFA Champions League last 16 showdown which kick-off at the Etihad next Tuesday.
The midfielder has been out of action for six weeks following a poor challenge from Newcastle’s Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa in the Blues’ New Year win on Tyneside, however he could be in contention for a place in the squad as City host Chelsea in the FA Cup 5th Round tomorrow.
Quoting our French star, Brennan writes:
““I’ve missed a month-and-a-half of competition - but it’s allowed me to recharge my batteries,” he said.
"“With City, we’re still in four competitions with the aim of winning them. In the Champions League, we are going to have an exciting game against Barca. For me, they are more beatable than in the past.
"“Personally, I think we can knock them out. If our injured players are back, with a full team, I think we can beat them.”
"Nasri has put his resurgence down to manager Manuel Pellegrini: “He made me understand that I was once more an important player for the team. On the pitch, he gives me quite a lot of freedom. So I try to repay that faith.
"“I feel great. I am soon going to be 27. I tell myself I have wasted enough time and that I need to exploit my potential. When you’re young, you don’t worry about things. You think you know everything. With hindsight, maturity, and a certain form of intelligence, you ask questions of yourself.”"
Samir may be on the mend, but the Mirror claim that Manuel Pellegrini will be looking to rest players for the cup clash that pits the Blues’ boss against Jose Mourinho for the second time in 12 days.
The Mirror's John Cross reckons that “with Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho both out injured, it will leave the Quadruple chasers desperately short for the grudge rematch against Jose Mourinho's Chelsea, who beat them in the league last week.
“It was reported earlier this week that Mourinho is also looking to excuse some of his big names from the tea-time clash, even though the west Londoners don't play in midweek.”
Elsewhere, The Express’ Paul Joyce reports that England boss Roy Hodgson has allayed any rumours as to whether or not Joe Hart will be the man between the sticks at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil:
“Hart will go to the World Cup with any doubts as to whether he should be England’s No1 having been dispelled after emerging better and stronger for the first real setback in his career.
“Hart has since regained his starting position (at City) and will head to Brazil with Hodgson considering taking youngster Jack Butland as one of his two back-up goalkeepers for experience.
““Hart has had a good response,” said Hodgson. “It must have been hard to lose his place and there was a lot of criticism at the time and I don’t care how confident a character you are, or who you are you are, you are bound to be affected.
"““We all know keepers are in the unenviable situation where their mistakes are highlighted and cost teams games.
"“When Joe got his chance again he grabbed it with both hands and turned in good performances. I never doubted his ability to do it.”"
David Andeson quotes the Argentinean title-chasing side’s President Victor Blanco:
"“Every season, Racing puts together a side to battle for the title, and then nothing happens,” said Blanco. “So we wanted to keep the side and reinforce it.
"“But we have several highly-coveted gems, such as Luciano Vietto, Rodrigo De Paul and Bruno Zuculini, who has already signed an agreement to leave in June to join Manchester City.”"
So, there you go! More gossip and speculation tomorrow morning...