By Alex Demarco

All eyes will be on the Camp Nou tonight as Pep Guardiola will be hoping his Manchester City side can get the better of former employers Barcelona.

The ex-Bayern Munich manager spent four glorious years in Catalonia between 2008 and 2012.

In this time Guardiola won a staggering 14 trophies, including two Champions Leagues and was widely praised for the attractive, possession-based football his team played, known as tiki-taka.

Even though he might know the secrets to the reigning Spanish champions’ success, actually stopping them is another matter altogether – especially now that Lionel Messi has regained fitness.

The current Ballon d’Or holder scored within minutes on his return on Saturday, in a comfortable 4-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna.

Luis Enrique’s men have scored fifteen goals in their last five games, but a recent 4-3 defeat away to Celta Vigo suggests that their defence is not as water-tight as it once was.

City have stuttered in the last few weeks, winning just two of their last five games in all competitions.

Their recent thrilling 3-3 draw away to Celtic in Group C leaves them two points behind tonight’s opponents, opening the door for their Scottish rivals and Borussia Monchengladbach to close in on them.

Enrique has practically a full squad to choose from after confirming that Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto have been training with the team and are available for selection.

Goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen is the only senior player unavailable through injury, meaning that Marc-Andre ter Stegen will start between the sticks for the hosts.

His opposite number, Claudio Bravo, swapped Barcelona for Manchester at the end of August and will be hoping to deny his ex-teammates Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, amongst others.

Captain Vincent Kompany made his return from injury in the closing stages at the weekend, but Bacary Sagna and Fabian Delph do not form part of Guardiola’s 18-man squad due to injury.

These two sides have met four times before, all in the space of the past three years, with Barcelona coming out victorious on all four occasions.

Tonight’s encounter does not only give City the chance to overtake their opponents in the group but also allows us to gauge the progress they have made under their new manager.

Potential Barcelona Starting XI (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Alba, Mascherano, Pique, Sergi Roberto; Busquets, Iniesta, Rakitic; Messi, Neymar, Suarez

Potential Manchester City Starting XI (4-5-1): Bravo; Zabaleta, Stones, Otamendi, Clichy; Fernandinho, Gundogan, Sterling, De Bruyne, Silva; Aguero


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here