Verdict: Home Win
Best Odds: 8/15
Pep Guardiola is in for an emotional return home on Wednesday night as his Manchester City prepare to face Barcelona with a huge pressure on their shoulders. Only a victory will suffice for the Premier League outfit as a defeat would provide Celtic or Borussia Monchengladbach with a fighting chance.
The Catalans went off to a flying start in the UEFA Champions League this season with back-to-back wins over Celtic and Borussia Monchengladbach and are well aware that another three points against Manchester City would push them further towards securing the place in the knockouts. Having been surprised to a 4-3 defeat at Celta Vigo, Barcelona worked hard to show the loss was just a one-time slip-up as they bounced back with a compelling 4-0 victory over Deportivo La Coruna last time out which would have been a timely morale boost for Luis Enrique’s men ahead of Manchester City’s visit. Spanish champions were delighted to welcome Leo Messi back in the fold during the weekend as the Argentine responded with a goal against Deportivo to show that a spell on the sidelines did not affect his flying form. Arguably the best footballer in the world completed the notorious MSN trident which is expected to lead the line against Manchester City on Wednesday night.
Luis Enrique opted to rest his key players against Deportivo, meaning that Andres Iniesta and Javier Mascherano will be recalled to the line-up together with Leo Messi.
The Catalans will however have to do without summer signing Jasper Cillessen who is out with ankle injury, while Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto are suffering from muscle problems.
The dramatic 3-3 draw at Celtic marked the beginning of a three-match winless spell for the Citizens, who ended up losing their first game of the season just before the international break. Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham inflicted a frustrating 2-0 blow to Manchester City, thus putting an end to their six-match winning run in the Premier League. Guardiola’s men failed to get back to winning ways on the retun to club action last weekend as Ronald Koeman’s Everton forced Citizens to settle for a 1-1 draw at the Etihad and Manchester City are travelling to Spain anxious and nervous due to their most recent slump. Pep Guardiola is dreading his return to Camp Nou which can be a pivotal moment for Manchester City. The Spaniard is without a doubt in for an emotional welcome back with the club he won everything there was to be won with. Still, Pep could go from hero to villain in just 90 minutes’ time if his out-of-form men manage to surprise the Catalans.
Captain Vincent Kompany is still nursing his injury together with Bacary Sagna, who is ruled out with a hamstring strain.
Fabian Delph’s muscular injury has limited his influence to only two games so far in the season, with England international still unable to help his team. Yaya Toure’s struggles to break in the first team are well-documented.
Key Aspects to Consider
- Man City are winless in their last three games across all competitions
- Citizens failed to keep a clean sheet in last 5 matches
- Barcelona scored 15 goals over their last four fixtures
- The Catalans won their last four meetings with Man City
- Citizens last won at Camp Nou in a friendly game back in 2009
Three points are of paramount importance for both sides, who are looking to find their way into the knockout stage of Europe’s elite competition. Barcelona are fairly confident of their chances against out of sorts Manchester City, who are struggling to find their footing in last three matches and we are prone to believe that the Citizens will struggle to get anything out of their encounter with the free-scoring, high-flying Catalans.
Verdict: Home Win
Best Odds: 8/15
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