Finally, the Champions League is coming back on your screens, after yet another annoying international break – am I surprised? No. But that’s for another time.
It appears it’s that time of year again, Barca vs. City for the fifth… tenth… twentieth time in the past few seasons? Well, more like fourth but you get the point, I hope.
City are coming into the game on the back of a draw at home to Everton. However, it was a draw that very much felt like a loss. City had the bulk of the possession, as well as two penalty misses, yes you read that right, TWO penalty misses.
As for Barcelona, they won their previous game 4-0 at home to Deportivo La Coruna, thanks to goals from Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and a brace from Rafinha.
Although Barca may have cruised to victory this weekend, don’t let that paint a picture of their season so far. Pep and City may draw confidence from knowing Barca have already slipped up twice this season to lesser sides, Celta Vigo – a 4-3 loss, and Alaves who won 2-1. Barca also sit fourth in La Liga, behind Sevilla, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid.
City are currently sat on top of the Premier League table, with just the one defeat against Spurs, in which they were simply outplayed. Nonetheless, City have been remarkable early on this season, and should they play against Barca like they did early on this season, then they should give the Catalans a real run for their money.
Guardiola returns to Barcelona
Would it truly be a Barca vs. City preview without talking about Pep’s revert to the Camp Nou? Well, thankfully that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
Having spent a large chunk of his playing career at the club, and the early days of his managerial career, winning countless pieces of silverware, Pep will be aiming to defeat a Barca side which has many of the same faces around.
Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta, Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets are all still around at the club since Pep’s departure 2012.
City will once again be without Bacary Sagna who hurt his hamstring on international duty with France, Fabian Delph is also a doubt for the game with a muscle injury – he was absent from today’s training. Kompany could be in contention to start having played the last few minutes of the Everton game.
Jasper Cillessen is the only notable absence from the team; the keeper is currently nursing a sprained ankle. Sergi Roberto, Jordi Alba, and Lionel Messi have all overcome injuries in time to at least make the bench in time for the City game – according to multiple reports.
The question that City fans will be asking is whether Pep will deploy a three-at-the-back system once again, and in short, I believe he will.
Manchester City’s line-up: Bravo; Otamendi, Stones, Kolarov; Navas, Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Sterling; Silva; Aguero (3-5-1-1)
The name that everyone will be looking for on the Barca team sheet will, of course, be Lionel Messi.
Barcelona’s line-up: Ter Stegen; Pique, Mascherano, Mathieu; Rafinha, Busquets, Rakitic, Digne; Messi, Suarez, Neymar (3-4-3)