Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka says it was no surprise to see Saturday’s opponents Manchester City beat Barcelona in the Champions League.
Pep Guardiola’s side came from a goal down to record a 3-1 win over the Spanish champions on Tuesday and go some way to avenging their 4-0 defeat at Camp Nou last month.
The Premier League leaders host Boro on Saturday looking to build on last weekend’s 4-0 victory over West Brom, which ended a run of three games without a win in the top flight.
Karanka believes Guardiola is beginning to prove his mettle in England but, despite admitting that City pose a daunting task, he is taking some confidence from their 0-0 draw with Arsenal two weeks ago.
“Bournemouth was an important game [a 2-0 win last Saturday] and our performance was good. We have recovered our consistency on the pitch,” he told a media conference.
“The atmosphere is different and the players are more confident. But we have to keep going – we know how tough this league is.
“We’ve been working three years to play this kind of game against Manchester City. We’re really looking forward to it.
“Pep Guardiola is showing how good he is and his team is. But we have to think about how well we played at Arsenal and what we can do.
“The way City played against Barcelona wasn’t a surprise to me – they have amazing players. It is a mistake to think it will be easy. But if we play in our style we will have our chances.”
Boro have been boosted by the news that top scorer Cristhian Stuani and midfielder Maarten de Roon are available after they missed the 2-0 win over Bournemouth last week, while Daniel Ayala could return from an ankle problem.
“Marten de Roon and Cristhian Stuani – both of them are ready,” said Karanka.
“The only one who I think could miss out is Dani Ayala. The doctor told me he could be ready but we will wait and see.”