Manchester City vs Barcelona: Match preview and predicted line-ups
Manchester City have lost every time they have come up against Barcelona, with this clash set to be the sixth in the past four seasons, but the 4-0 defeat at the Camp Nou was the worst suffered in any of those fixtures, and only the second time there has been more than a one goal margin. Pep Guardiola will face his former side with a record of two defeats and one victory against them, but will take hope from the fact that his sole victory was at home as in the case of Tuesday evening’s clash.
Manchester City put their six game run without a victory to a sharp end with an impressive 4-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion at the weekend, with Pep Guardiola opting for a new look system in doing so. Sergio Aguero also returned to form, scoring a brace after six games without a goal to equal his worst run since joining the club. In the Champions League, defeat to Barcelona and a draw against Celtic means that the Citizens cannot afford any more slip ups if they are to qualify.
Barcelona were expected to demolish Granada on Saturday evening as La Liga’s bottom side traveled to Camp Nou, but it took a scrappy Rafinha strike to ensure a 1-0 victory. The Catalans have won their last five and have won all of their Champions League fixtures to date, so are expected to maintain this run of good form if they are to keep the pressure up on the competition in their domestic league and in Europe.
Manchester City predicted starting XI Barcelona predicted starting XI
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Pep Guardiola is expected to stick with the 3-3-3-1 formation that he trialed with great success at the Hawthornes at the weekend. The only change that he is expected to make to that line-up will see Kevin de Bruyne return to the starting eleven at the expense of Nolito, with the rest of the team expected to stay the same, including Sergio Aguero.
Luis Enrique opted to rest Sergio Busquets at the weekend against Granada, and the only decision for him to make will be who starts in place of Andres Iniesta with Rafinha, Andre Gomes, Denis Suarez and Arda Turan all competing for the spot. Rafinha’s form is likely to give him the edge, but the defensive strength of one of the other options of experience of Turan may see them given the nod.
Suspensions and Injuries
Pep Guardiola will be without first choice goalkeeper and summer signing from Barcelona, Claudio Bravo, as he serves the suspension he picked up when he was sent off in the return fixture at the Camp Nou last time out. Bacary Sagna is out with a hamstring strain, whilst Pablo Zabaleta is a doubt with a foot injury and Fabian Delph continues to be on the verge of a return from a back injury without quite making the squad.
Barcelona are in somewhat of a defensive injury crisis, with Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Jeremy Mathieu all set to miss out due to injuries. Mathieu will also be serving suspension from his sending off in the first fixture of the season between the two sides. The out of favour Aleix Vidal also remains sidelined by muscle problems whilst influential captain Andres Iniesta is unavailable as he recovers from a nasty knee ligament injury.
Manchester City will have to be at their best to take anything from the game, but Barcelona were not their free flowing selves at the weekend and their trip to the Etihad could come at the perfect time for Pep Guardiola. It is hard to tell which way this one will go, so we predict a draw.
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