Another English team on the brink of an early European exit, Man City face a daunting task tonight at Nou Camp. City trail 2-1 and must therefore score twice against Barcelona if they stand any chance, and Manuel Pellegrini knows that he will be under immense pressure should Man City fail to advance. City are effectively out of the title race and the teams below them are making up ground, and loses to Liverpool and Burnley since the 1st leg have added to their woes.
Barcelona will be confident that they can advance on their home turf and are strong favourites to join Porto, Real Madrid, PSG, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Monaco and either Borussia Dortmund or Juventus in the draw. Barcelona have a stunning record against English teams in the Champions League, having won 6 of their last 7 knockout encounters. The Catalan giants will fancy their chances of lifting the trophy this year after a number of early exits from the bigger clubs, as well as the unconvincing play of rivals Real Madrid.
Man City were given a glimmer of hope after Joe Hart saved Lionel Messi’s penalty with the last kick of the game, and they will also be boosted by the return of key figure Yaya Toure in midfield. Their performance will have to be much improved tonight, with Barcelona firmly grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck back in February. City started the game with 2 strikers and were consequently dominated in midfield, and Luis Suarez punished the City defence with 2 first half goals in his return to England.
The second half saw an improvement from Man City, and they clawed a crucial goal back when Sergio Aguero pounced on a loose backheel and fired into the back of the net. Clichy saw red after a challenge on Alves, and things looked bleaker for City once Zabaleta fouled Messi in the box. Messi missed the penalty and inexplicably headed the rebound wide of the post, and this has given City a chance in tonight’s match.
It is a huge task, but City will have to give it their all tonight as the pressure mounts on a team that has struggled in Europe in recent years and not been at their best domestically this season. Should Barcelona advance, they will be confident that they can lift the trophy that they last won back in 2011.
Clichy will miss out after being sent off in the first leg, but he is the only absentee for Man City.
Sergio Busquets is a doubt due to ankle ligament damage, whilst Thomas Vermaelen is out after undergoing surgery on his hamstring.