Man City can­not af­ford sec­ond de­feat by Barca

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

MANCHESTER CITY can­not af­ford an­other de­feat to­mor­row morn­ing (in Malaysia) 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 hat­trick 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 semi­fi­nal.

At least Bay­ern re­cov­ered some sel­f­re­spect 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 Albi- on, where Ser­gio Aguero and Ilkay Gun­do­gan both scored twice.

Aguero (car­i­ca­ture) was sur­pris­ingly left out of the game at the Nou Camp, but Guardi­ola will need him at his best to­mor­row morn­ing. “Aguero is a spe­cial player, we need him a lot,” the man­ager told re­porters af­ter the West Bromwich game. “He is one of the best. I am go­ing to help him to be much, much bet­ter. We know how im­por­tant he is for us when he can con­vince us how good he is and how im­por­tant he is for this club.” While City will be­lieve they can make in­roads into a makeshift de­fence still miss­ing Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Aleix Vi­dal, there will be greater con­cern about how their own back­line will cope with the daz­zling tri­dent of Messi, Ney­mar and Luis Suarez. That may well prove to be the key to the con­test. – Reuters

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