Manchester City will be determined to right the wrongs of last season’s Champions League meeting with Barcelona as they face them again in the first leg of their round of 16 tie.
This time in 2014, Manuel Pellegrini opted for a more defensive system, and it backfired as Martin Demichelis was sent off in a 2-0 victory for the Catalans at the Etihad Stadium, all but ensuring their place in the quarter-finals.
As they showed against Newcastle United on Saturday, City are at their best when on the attack, so it will be intriguing to see how many men Pellegrini is willing to commit forward when the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez will be lining up for the opposition.
Yaya Toure is out through suspension, so the performances of likely midfield pairing Fernando and Fernandinho could be pivotal in deciding which way the game goes. David Silva looks the man most capable of driving City forward with his creative spark and ability to penetrate the Barca defence, with Sergio Aguero beginning to look sharp once again.
This has not been a season of consistent stability for Barcelona, but Messi continues to shine under Luis Enrique, the club’s third manager in as many seasons. Suarez has come in for criticism after scoring less goals so far than expected, while Saturday’s home defeat to Malaga added to their frustration in La Liga as they slipped four points behind Real Madrid.
James Milner is back for Man City after missing the last two games, while Barcelona’s only absentees are defenders Douglas and Thomas Vermaelen.
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