Eyes on Barca

The Sky Blues can­not af­ford sec­ond loss to Cata­lans in Manch­ester

The Star (Kenya) - - Sports International Football -

MANCH­ESTER/ Manch­ester City can­not af­ford an­other de­feat on Tues­day at home to Barcelona, who thumped them 4-0 two weeks ago, hav­ing taken just one point from their last two Cham­pi­ons League Group C matches.

That third suc­ces­sive win for the Cata­lan pass-masters means they need only a draw in the re­turn game to en­sure their an­nual qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the knock­out stage.

City, how­ever, are in dan­ger of los­ing sec­ond place in the ta­ble to Borussia Moenchenglad­bach, who sit one point be­hind them go­ing into a home tie with Celtic.

Although they beat Borussia 4-0 on match­day one, Pep Guardi­ola’s side still have to travel to Ger­many for a game that could de­cide which team qual­i­fies with Barcelona.

For­mer Barca coach Guardi­ola was as chas­tened af­ter the Nou Camp loss, when Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick and City goal­keeper Clau­dio Bravo was sent off, as he was on a pre­vi­ous re­turn there, which re­sulted in a 3-0 loss for his Bay­ern Mu­nich team in the 2015 semi-fi­nal.

At least Bay­ern re­cov­ered some self-re­spect by win­ning the sec­ond leg 3-2 on that oc­ca­sion and a re­peat would suit him per­fectly.

Achiev­ing it would also be a his­toric re­sult for the Pre­mier League lead­ers, who have lost all five pre­vi­ous meet­ings be­tween the clubs, in­clud­ing round of 16 games in 2014 and 2015.

At least they ended a run of six matches with­out a win -- the worst of Guardi­ola’s man­age­rial ca­reer -- in em­phatic fash­ion on Satur­day, romp­ing to a 4-0 suc­cess at West Bromwich Al­bion, where Ser­gio Aguero and Ilkay Gun­do­gan both scored twice. Aguero was sur­pris­ingly left out of the game at the Nou Camp, but Guardi­ola will need him at his best on Tues­day.

“Aguero is a spe­cial player, we need him a lot,” the man­ager told re­porters af­ter the West Bromwich game.

/REUTERS

Manch­ester City’s Ser­gio Aguero in ac­tion against West Bromwich Al­bion’s James McClean dur­ing their Pre­mier League match at The Hawthorns.

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