Mascherano: We must regain our best form against City
- 12 March 2014 07:58
- Posted by @porter_mcfc
Hola! And welcome to today’s Barcelona-themed round-up!
As expected, the City headlines this morning are concerned only with tonight’s Champions League clash in the Nou Camp, and everything else can wait until tomorrow.
The media are refusing to write off the Blues quite yet, and Manuel Pellegrini’s men certainly don’t believe they are beaten. You can hear from Vincent Kompany at the pre-match press conference here, plus read previews from Samir Nasri and Joe Hart.
Of course, the opposition are also confident ahead of tonight’s game, and Javier Mascherano has responded to unfavourable reports in Spain about Barcelona’s recent performances.
The Telegraph quote him as saying: “Let us get to May. Wait before you kill us, don’t kill us yet.
“At the beginning of the season, when you are working and imagining how it will develop, you dream of being in finals and fighting for the league.
“Right now, it is March and we have two months to end the season by doing something special.
“Now is the time to press the accelerator and achieve our objectives.
He added: “We know we cannot play as we did against Valladolid [against City], but we can get back to winning and our best form and tomorrow is a good chance to do that.”
If you haven’t seen the Spanish papers (I’m guessing there’s quite a few of us out there that don’t make them part of our daily reading), the Metro has a handy explanation.
The report reads: “While City head into the second leg on the back of the shock FA Cup exit at the hands of Wigan on Sunday, Barca are undergoing something of a crisis themselves.
“For so long lauded as the undisputed kings of European football, there is currently an air of vulnerability surrounding Gerardo Martino’s team.
“The head coach enjoyed a fantastic start to his tenure at the Nou Camp but, with the exception of the first leg against City, things have gone sour since the turn of the year.
“Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to struggling Valladolid was their third La Liga loss in six and saw them fall four points behind title rivals Real Madrid. That’s simply not good enough for the passionate Catalan press and Martino was forced to answer an uncomfortable interrogation in the pre-match press conference.”
One person definitely backing the Blues to take advantage of any perceived dip in form is former City man, Paulo Wanchope.
"They (City) are capable," Wanchope told Perform. "They are capable to do it, plus Barcelona are not playing the best football now.
"I mean, they are good players but they are having a little bit of problems and I do think Manchester City can do it.
"I imagine it would be great. If they get through Barcelona I think they can go all the way and win the Champions League."
Well, one game at a time, Paulo, one game at a time!
Finally, the Bleacher Report takes a look at how City might turn around the Catalans’ two goal advantage, and Rob Pollard has identified David Silva as the man key to City’s hopes.
The Spanish wizard has the trickery and skill to scare any opponent, and Pollard argues that if Barcelona can nullify his influence, they will restrict City’s opportunities.
He writes: “His ability to keep possession, no matter how tight the space, is his finest asset. With City needing to see as much of the ball as possible against a side famed for the ability to keep it, that part of his game will be critical on Wednesday.
“Technically excellent and with wonderful intelligence, it's hard to think of a better player to wear the Blues shirt in the last 20 years. With his side up against one of the best teams in the world, his contribution, now more than ever, needs to be telling.
“If Barcelona stop Silva, they will stop City's supply line. If he manages to find the kind of space he needs to pick passes and create angles, who knows? An unlikely result may be on the cards.”
Well, that’s all for now but kick off is less than 12 hours away…. (Sorry).