Barcelona know what to ex­pect against Guardi­ola’s Man City

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

An­dres Ini­esta can see it al­ready. The Manch­ester City team com­ing to the Camp Nou for to­day's Cham­pi­ons League match against Barcelona has quickly been in­fused with Pep Guardi­ola's play­ing style.

Ini­esta iden­ti­fies his for­mer coach's fin­ger­prints at City, with the English club one of the tough­est teams to beat in Europe.

"Guardi­ola's teams are a re­flec­tion of what he wants and, de­spite the short pe­riod in which he has been in com­mand, City al­ready car­ries his iden­tity, his ball­pos­ses­sion style," said Ini­esta, who played un­der Guardi­ola for four years. "Manch­ester City is a top can­di­date to win this tour­na­ment. It's part of a very small group of clubs that can win it."

It will be the sec­ond time Guardi­ola re­turns to the Camp Nou as a coach. The for­mer Barcelona player was with Bay­ern Mu­nich in a loss in the Cham­pi­ons League semi­fi­nals two sea­sons ago.

"City has im­proved its game a lot," said Barcelona de­fender Javier Mascher­ano, an­other player coached by Guardi­ola, who won 14 ti­tles while in charge of the Cata­lan club from 20082012.

"Never in my life am I go­ing to change the way I play foot­ball," Guardi­ola said. "I can make a lot of mis­takes but my teams play the way they want."

Here is a look at the groups play­ing to­day:

GROUP A Given how poorly Paris Sain­tGer­main's mid­field played in the unim­pres­sive 2-1 win against bot­tom-side Nancy in the French league on Satur­day, coach Unai Emery will be des­per­ate to have the ex­pe­ri­enced Thi­ago Motta back for the home game against Basel.

But Motta is strug­gling to shake off a mus­cle in­jury, mean­ing that PSG could be miss­ing his snappy tack­ling, tac­ti­cal dis­ci­pline and as­tute pass­ing against Basel — which has been con­sis­tently strong in mid­field in re­cent years.

If Motta fails a fit­ness test, then Grze­gorz Krychowiak is likely to start, al­though the Poland mid­fielder looked slug­gish and off the pace against Nancy.

Arse­nal, which leads the group with the same four points as PSG, hosts last-placed Lu­do­gorets Raz­grad of Bul­garia. GROUP B UEFA says Napoli has a chance to be­come the first team in Cham­pi­ons League his­tory to ad­vance from its group after just three matches — if Napoli beats vis­it­ing Be­sik­tas, and Dy­namo Kiev draws with Ben­fica.

How­ever, Napoli has lost con­sec­u­tive Se­rie A matches for the first time un­der sec­ond-year coach Mau­r­izio Sarri and has to over­come a lengthy in­jury lay­off for Arka­diusz Mi­lik, the Poland for­ward who scored seven goals in his first eight matches with the south­ern club.

Manolo Gab­bia­dini, Mi­lik's re­place­ment, did not im­press in a 31 de­feat to Roma at the week­end, which ended Napoli's 22-match un­beaten streak at home.

Early ad­vance­ment would pro­vide a mea­sure of re­venge for Napoli after the club be­came the first team with 12 points to be elim­i­nated from the cur­rent group-stage for­mat in 2013-14.

While Napoli has a per­fect six points and Be­sik­tas two, Dy­namo and Ben­fica have only one each.

GROUP C Man City got off to a great start un­der Guardi­ola, win­ning 10 straight, but it's en­dur­ing a three­game win­less streak that has added some pres­sure on the newly signed coach.

"Of course the con­fi­dence and mood is much bet­ter when you win," Guardi­ola said after the team's 1-1 draw with Ever­ton, when Kevin De Bruyne and Ser­gio Aguero had spot kicks saved.

City has four points, two less than Barcelona, which won both of its games and is on a 12-match win­ning streak at home in the Cham­pi­ons League.

Luis En­rique's Barcelona is un­beaten in 17 home games in the Eu­ro­pean com­pe­ti­tion.

In the other group match, Celtic hosts Borus­sia Moenchenglad­bach to try to im­prove on its fourgame un­beaten run at home in Europe.

GROUP D After a three-match win­less run, Carlo Ancelotti's meth­ods are al­ready be­ing ques­tioned.

The new Bay­ern coach was praised at the start of the sea­son for his re­laxed ap­proach, after Guardi­ola's more rigid, de­taildriven style. Now, the feel­ing is that play­ers may be los­ing their drive and de­ter­mi­na­tion un­der Ancelotti.

Club boss Karl-Heinz Rum­menigge felt obliged to slam the team's "un­ac­cept­able" per­for­mance in a 2-2 draw with 10-man Ein­tra­cht Frank­furt in the Bun­desliga on Satur­day. The me­dia quickly sug­gested that some of Guardi­ola's dis­ci­pline might be in or­der.

Bay­ern, which will be with­out Franck Ribery when it hosts PSV Eind­hoven on Wed­nes­day, has won 13 con­sec­u­tive home matches — a Cham­pi­ons League record. PSV, how­ever, is un­de­feated in 22 away matches in all com­pe­ti­tions.

The Ger­man side has three points, three less than group leader Atletico Madrid, which plays at Ros­tov.

FC Barcelona's Jeremy Mathieu, Ger­ard Pique, Ney­mar, and Lionel Messi at­tend a train­ing ses­sion yes­ter­day

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malta

© PressReader. All rights reserved.