Manchester City aim to enact revenge on Barcelona when the La Liga champions travel to the Etihad Stadium to take on Pep Guardiola’s men on Tuesday (7.45pm on BT Sport 2).
Luis Enrique’s side thrashed Man City 4-0 when the pair went head-to-head at the Camp Nou a fortnight ago, though this preview does not expect a repeat of that dominance in this return leg as the scoreline flattered the hosts. Guardiola’s charges were the equal of their illustrious opponents for much of the first half, but a huge error by goalkeeper Claudio Bravo handed Barca the initiative. The Chilean, facing his former employers, handled the ball outside the area and was duly sent off.
Lionel Messi scored three times and Neymar added another in the closing stages, but this comprehensive victory was more a result of the Catalans’ clinical finishing than their dominance in all departments.
Man City ended a six-game winless run with a 4-0 defeat of West Bromwich Albion at the weekend, braces from Sergio Aguero and Ilkay Gundogan securing maximum points for the Premier League leaders. It was a much-improved display from the Citizens, who were far from their best in the 1-1 draw with Southampton six days previously, and Guardiola will now be keen for his players to build on that success with another one against Barcelona. With just a single point separating them from third-placed Borussia Monchengladbach after three European encounters, this is a match that City will not want to lose.
Barcelona were also victorious on Saturday, edging out Granada 1-0 thanks to Rafinha’s strike in the second half. Luis Enrique’s charges have been hit and miss in La Liga so far this term – at least in terms of performances, if not always results – but they are still more than good enough to compete on all fronts in 2016/17. The fact that they are five points clear in Group C at the halfway point of the Champions League’s initial stage means they are under little pressure ahead of their visit to the Etihad Stadium, with Barca almost certain to qualify for the knockout rounds of the competition in first place.
Guardiola will be unable to call upon the suspended Bravo or midfielder Fabian Delph, although he could have one of Pablo Zabaleta or Bacary Sagna available following respective foot and hamstring injuries. The City boss has already confirmed that Sergio Aguero will start after he was surprisingly benched in the 4-0 loss at the Camp Nou two weeks ago, with Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane set to provide the support on the flanks. Guardiola will probably stick with the 3-4-3 formation he has used in recent weeks, although his side will see less of the ball than they did against the likes of Southampton and West Brom.
Luis Enrique will have to make do without Andres Iniesta, Jeremy Mathieu, Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal, while Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba could also miss out. Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez (pictured) make for a terrifying frontline, but the absence of Iniesta and Sergio Busquets’ slightly shaky form of late means City will fancy their chances in the midfield battle. Denis Suarez, Rafinha and Andre Gomes are the contenders to play alongside Busquets and Ivan Rakitic in the engine room, with Javier Mascherano more likely to be deployed in the backline.
Our Preview’s Man City v Barcelona Betting Tips Conclusion
Both teams are capable of causing problems with their excellent attacking units, which could result in a highly-entertaining, but ultimately even, affair. So this preview believes that it could be worth backing a score draw and score that appeals most is 2-2. Suarez is sure to threaten and could be the best option for first goalscorer.
- Betting Tip: If you want to play a little safer then you can back the draw at a best price of 11/4 with William Hill. However we are going with that 2-2 correct score margin at best betting odds of 11/1 with William Hill
- Betting Tip: We also fancy Luis Suarez to score the first goal of the game at a best price of 4/1 with Bet365, SkyBet or Coral.
Check our JustBookies’ home page, where there are all the best bookies’ free bets along with an enhanced odds’ offer on this Man City v Barca Champions League match.
Greg Lea is a freelance sports writer. Read the articles that he has written at Just Bookies.