MAN CITY V BARCELONA PREVIEW: CAN CITY TAME MESSI AND FRIENDS WITHOUT TOURE?


Team news, match facts, manager quotes, match odds and more ahead of the Champions League clash between Manchester City and Barcelona.

Manchester City have been on a steep learning curve in the Champions League but Tuesday's last 16 first-leg clash with four-times European kings Barcelona offers a chance to show they are now serious contenders.
Last season's exit at the identical stage also against Barca, 4-1 on aggregate, revealed City's shortcomings in a squad good enough to win the Premier League but still lacking authority and discipline against Europe's very best.
A year later, however, and City are approaching the tie with growing optimism, even if they will be missing midfield talisman Yaya Toure at the Etihad on Tuesday as he completes a three-match suspension for his red card against CSKA Moscow.
After finding their creative edge blunted in recent months, City's attacking flair returned with a vengeance as they crushed Newcastle United 5-0 in the Premier League on Saturday.
In contrast, Barca's lethal-looking frontline misfired badly at the weekend as their 11-match unbeaten run ended in a surprise 1-0 defeat by a well-drilled Malaga side.
City's run to the last 16 a year ago was their best effort in the competition after two successive failures to survive the group stage and they will be buoyed by the way they sneaked into the knockout round this time, beating Bayern Munich and AS Roma.
Both of those victories were recorded without Toure.
TEAM NEWS
Manchester City are without key midfielder Yaya Toure for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Barcelona at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday through suspension. Toure is serving the final match of a three-game ban for his sending off against CSKA Moscow in November but fellow midfielder James Milner has overcome a knee problem. New striker Wilfried Bony could make his full City debut having replaced Stevan Jovetic in the squad for the competition. Fellow forwards Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko are one booking away from a ban, as are defenders Pablo Zabaleta and Gael Clichy.
Barcelona will be without defensive duo Thomas Vermaelen (hamstring) and Douglas (hamstring) for the clash in Manchester. Luis Suarez is expected to start, playing a match in England for the first time since leaving Liverpool last year.
MANAGER QUOTES
Manuel Pellegini, Manchester City: "I think that last year was different to this year. We arrived at this stage of the Champions League after playing 19 games in two months, and I don't think it was our best moment. But I hope this year we will do it after not playing so many games. I think that our team is in a good moment, although we also recognise we are going to be playing against a very strong team... [On the group stage woes] We never thought we were out. We always had the trust to continue to fight to the end. When there is mathematically a chance, this team will always try to do it. We didn't play well, especially here at home against Roma and CSKA Moscow, but our team demonstrated the personality and quality to qualify against Bayern and Roma. I think all those things are experience to try to improve this year in the Champions League."
Luis Enrique: "We have the best positional attacking team in the world, without any doubt. We are used to playing against teams who put 10 men behind the ball. There are some games like this that are difficult for us and we are less effective. But that doesn't mean that these teams succeed in stopping us from doing what we try to. Nobody in the world has as many resources as Barca to break through defences."
FRANKLY SPEAKING
Frank Lampard, Manchester City, on Barcelona's mystique: "You can admire and respect them so long as that doesn't transmit into giving them too much space to do what they do best. I played against Barcelona when they were at their very best four or five years ago and they were absolutely flying -- in truth, there's not much you can do when they play like that -- but we have players who can hurt them, too."
PIQUE'S POSITION
Gerard Pique, Barcelona, on City's danger: "City are a team that is more attack-minded and that will help us as it will be a more open game. We need to put (Malaga) behind us because on Tuesday we face the most important game of the year."
MATCH FACTS
This is only the second time Manchester City and Barcelona will meet in European competition. The first was exactly at the same stage last season when the Catalans beat Manuel Pellegrini 4-1 on aggregate, which included a 2-0 win at the Etihad.
Manchester City have reached the knockout stages of the Champions League for the second season running. They have never made it past the last 16 though.
Manchester City have won their last two Champions League games (v Bayern Munich and Roma) after failing to win any of their previous six.
Manchester City have only kept one clean sheet in 13 home Champions League games (2-0 v Bayern Munich, December 2011).
Barcelona have made it to the knockout stages of the Champions League for the 11th consecutive campaign. They have always made it at least to the quarter finals in the last seven seasons.
Barcelona have won their last four Champions League games, only Real Madrid are currently on a longer run (9 wins).
In the last seven Champions League knockout encounters with English clubs, Barcelona have prevailed six times, the only exception being the semi-final against Chelsea in 2011/12 when they lost 3-2 on aggregate.
Barcelona have only won one of their last seven away games in the knockout stages of the Champions League (D2 L4), it was against Manchester City in February 2014.
Barcelona have dominated possession in each of their last 92 Champions League games. The last time they had the ball less than their opponent was in December 2006 against Werder Bremen (43%).
14 of Barcelona’s 15 goals in the Champions League this season have been scored from open play.
Barcelona have completed 90% of their passes, the highest ratio in the Champions League this season.
Sergio Ag├╝ero has scored 10 goals in his last nine Champions League games.
Lionel Messi has scored (8) or assisted (2) 10 of Barcelona’s 15 goals in the Champions League this season. Top scorer in the history of the competition (75 goals), he’s netted in each of his last five games. He’s never managed it six games running.
MATCH ODDS
Manchester City 5/2, Barcelona 6/5, draw 13/5

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