Brazilian international playmaker Fernandinho has claimed that Manchester City had Barcelona worried at one point in the Champions League last-16 first leg.
Unfortunately for the Brazilian and his team Barcelona claimed a 2-0 win against them at the Etihad Stadium, after the Citizens were reduced to ten men.
City face a tough trip to the Nou Camp on Wednesday for the second leg of the tie. However, City midfielder Fernandinho believes his side ‘rattled’ their Spanish opponents in the first leg.
The former-Shakhtar midfielder told the Guardian: “We had them worried,”
“We managed to put them under pressure and there were situations in which the Barcelona guys didn’t feel confident to try and use their passing game.
“They were rattling the ball to where their noses were pointing. We rattled them.”
The two goal deficit will be a difficult one to overturn, especially at the Nou Camp. The Catalan giants on home soil dominate most teams they play against. City face a major challenge in getting a result in Catalonia.
Tata Martino’s team do not have many weaknesses, but when teams put pressure on them, then opposition teams have had success. Of course Barca were the kings of pressure football under former-boss Pep Guardiola.
Barcelona have been criticised for their style of play this season, because they are not pressing as much as they have done in past years. However, in recent games Martino has tried to implement that style of play again.
At times it has worked, but at times it has not. The Argentinian is not universally popular amongst the Barcelona fans, but the Catalan giants are still in the thick of the race for La Liga and the Champions League.
However, that is not good enough for the Nou Camp faithful. Style and philosophy is everything at Barcelona. If the Catalans do not play in the style expected of them then the head coach comes under pressure himself.
If City can play a high-tempo, Barcelona-esque style at the Nou Camp they could really cause the Spanish champions problems
Manchester City were very much in the first leg, but the sending-off of City centre-back Martin Demichelis changed the game completely. For all the criticism of Barca this season, they still have the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta who are very good with the ball.
It was a tough ask for City to defeat Barca with eleven men, it was made even more difficult by going down to ten men. Barcelona are one of the worse sides in Europe to play against with a man disadvantage.
One factor that could be major in the second leg is the return of City’s star striker Sergio Aguero. The Argentinian international striker made his return from injury last weekend in the Capital One Cup final.
Aguero looked lively and will now be hoping to stay fit in an attempt to help City claim more silverware this season, after helping City to victory in that Capital One Cup final over Sunderland. The striker’s pace and power would have come in very handy in the first leg against Barcelona, especially when the Citizens were reduced to ten men.
If City are to gain a victory and unlikely passage into the quarter-finals of the Champions League, then they will need their star striker to produce a good performance at the Nou Camp. Aguero will know the opponents well, having playing for Atletico Madrid for five years in La Liga.
City will have to be positive to claim anything in Spain and it is good that Fernandinho is obviously confident in his side’s ability to claim a victory against the Spanish giants. The Citizens will approach the clash in a positive manner.
However, there are not many teams that have gone to the Nou Camp and claimed a three goal win in recent years; only European champions Bayern Munich last season have achieved such a feat at the Nou Camp.
Manchester City face an uphill struggle to qualify for the last eight of the Champions League, no matter how much their players think they rattled their Spanish opponents in the first leg. Whether they qualify for the quarter-finals or not Manchester City have to produce a big performance at the Nou Camp.
A win at Barcelona could help the Citizens momentum and aide Manuel Pellegrini’s team in the race for the Premier League title.
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