Unlike 2013 when they didn’t survive the group stage, Manchester City made it through and they lock horns with Barcelona. The 2012 champions will try to would behind them the failure of last season when they were crushed by Bayern Munchen both at home and away. Securing a spot in the quarterfinals shouldn’t be a big challenge for the Spanish side, as long as they can leave England with at least one point. They are not the best traveling team and quite often during the group stage they settled for a draw.
At least in theory, keeping a clean sheet and splitting points wouldn’t be a disaster for Manchester City, but this means that the British side would have to score at Nou Camp. They’ve had a busy schedule this February and win just a bit over half the match is played this month, including a critical cup fixture with Chelsea. They only had three days to rest ahead of this important Champions League match and they’ve got their best players fit to play.
It goes without saying that Pellegrini will not rest any players for the upcoming Premier League match against Stoke this weekend, instead he will throw everything he’s got at Barcelona. Alvaro Negredo and Dzeko are the two strikers that he will be counting tonight to catch the visiting team offguard, with the latter struggling to return to form. Negredo didn’t play this weekend due to a knee injury but he is completely recovered and is expected to feature tonight from the first minute.
Barcelona scored six goals over the weekend without conceding one and they pack quite a punch up front, with Messi, Neymar and Pedro spearheading the offensive. In Champions League fixtures they seem to be more interested in preventing opponents from scoring than to take a lead themselves, but this doesn’t mean that Barcelona will be toothless in Manchester. All the aforementioned players are deadly on counterattack and they don’t need too many opportunities to score.
To make matters worse, City is struggling with subpar goalkeeping the season and have been shifting between Hart and Pantilimon. The former will be given the green light tonight but he is dependent on his back line to keep him out of harm’s way. Overall, this appears to be a balanced game that could go either way and punters who insist on wagering should choose the draw for the sake of better odds.