Aguero’s re­turn: Man City star back for Barcelona re­match

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

There’s no way Pep Guardi­ola will be leav­ing out Ser­gio Aguero this time.

Aguero started on the bench for Man­ches­ter City’s 4-0 hum­bling at Barcelona in the last round of Cham­pi­ons League matches, leav­ing many to ques­tion the sense in Guardi­ola omit­ting pos­si­bly his best player for such a big match against his old club.

Guardi­ola did it for tac­ti­cal rea­sons, us­ing play­maker Kevin De Bruyne in a with­drawn striker role to give City an ex­tra body in mid­field. Even if the tac­tic worked well at first - the game only re­ally changed af­ter City had goal­keeper Clau­dio Bravo sent off af­ter 53 min­utes with the score at 1-0 - Guardi­ola was widely crit­i­cised.

For the re­turn match at City to­day, Aguero will be back in City’s team.

“But I’m not go­ing to tell you in which po­si­tion he’s go­ing to play,” Guardi­ola said, jok­ingly.

Aguero gave a re­minder of his fin­ish­ing abil­ity with two ex­cel­lently taken goals in a 4-0 win over West Bromwich Al­bion in the Premier League on Satur­day. That ended a six-game run with­out scor­ing for Aguero - although he was a sub­sti­tute in three of them - and ended City’s six-game win­less run.

It’s good tim­ing with Barcelona and its su­per­star strike force of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Ney­mar head­ing to Eti­had Sta­dium on nine points from a pos­si­ble nine in Group C. Only a draw is needed to se­cure the Span­ish side’s 13th straight par­tic­i­pa­tion in the knock­out stage.

City is in sec­ond place, five points be­hind Barcelona and one ahead of Borus­sia Moenchenglad­bach.

Messi has scored back-to-back hat tricks in the Cham­pi­ons League, against City and Celtic, to lead the com­pe­ti­tion with six goals de­spite miss­ing a match be­cause of in­jury.


Paris Saint-Ger­main and Ar­se­nal are tied on seven points and can both qual­ify with two group games to spare - if one wins and the other does not lose on Tues­day.

PSG trav­els to Basel and will be count­ing on Edin­son Ca­vani adding to his haul of seven goals in the last six games. The Uruguay striker has 14 goals in all com­pe­ti­tions - the most in Europe along with Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

PSG was flat­tered by the 3-0 win­ning mar­gin over Basel two weeks ago, while Ar­se­nal went even bet­ter with a 6-0 home vic­tory at Lu­do­gorets.


It’s not go­ing well for Napoli. Mau­r­izio Sarri’s side has lost four of its past six matches, in­clud­ing a 3-2 de­feat at home to Be­sik­tas in the Cham­pi­ons League.

Napoli still leads the group on six points, one more than Be­sik­tas and two above Ben­fica, which hosts Dynamo Kiev.


Moenchenglad­bach isn’t just look­ing for a home win over Celtic to­day. The Ger­man side will also be hop­ing that Barcelona takes points off Man City so it can climb to sec­ond place and have a real chance of ad­vanc­ing at the ex­pense of City.

With games to come against Barca and at City, Celtic real­is­ti­cally needs to beat Moenchenglad­bach to stand a chance of a third-place fin­ish and qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the Europa League.


Bay­ern Mu­nich’s early-sea­son wob­ble looks be­hind the team be­fore to­day’s trip to PSV Eind­hoven. A run of three win­less games was a con­cern be­fore Carlo Ancelotti’s side beat PSV 4-1 in Mu­nich, and it has had three more wins since.

In­deed, Ancelotti has sug­gested the dip in form may help avoid com­pla­cency for play­ers who are so used to win­ning. Bay­ern will qual­ify for the last 16 with a win, pro­vided group leader Atletico Madrid also avoids los­ing to win­less Ros­tov at home.

Atletico is one of only three sides with a 100 per cent record in the com­pe­ti­tion so far - along with Barcelona and Le­ices­ter - with Yan­nick Car­rasco grab­bing the goals in 1-0 wins over Bay­ern and Ros­tov. The Bel­gium winger also struck twice in Atletico’s 4-2 win over Malaga in La Liga on Satur­day.

Any­thing other than Atletico and Bay­ern’s early pro­gres­sion over sides with only a point each would be a sur­prise.

Photo: AP

Man­ches­ter City’s Ser­gio Aguero is ex­pected to face Barca to­day

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