Barcelona v Manchester City special
Manchester City travel to Barcelona tonight looking to overturn a two-goal deficit and we have all angles covered for the big match.
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Like Arsenal last night in Munich, Manchester City travel to a European heavyweight looking to overturn a 2-0 deficit. City's mission, though, is perhaps not quite as impossible as the Gunners'. While Bayern have crushed all opposition in recent times, Barcelona's own form is far patchier. They have lost two of their three Primera Liga matches since beating City and are now third in the division, four points off Real Madrid's pace. City, meanwhile, know all about improbable home defeats after the weekend's FA Cup exit at the hands of Wigan. It's definitely not ideal preparation, but it does show that football remains a funny old game. Barcelona do not quite have the swagger of old, and City, while stuttering slightly themselves, have enviable firepower. If the visitors - who won all three of their away games in the group stages (including at Bayern Munich) - score first then the Nou Camp could become a nervy place. It's still a long shot, though. Only three times in eight years have Barca lost at home by a scoreline that would even force extra-time.
Man City defender Martin Demichelis is suspended after being sent off during the first leg when conceding a penalty. Joleon Lescott is the likely replacement for the Argentinian as fellow centre-back Matija Nastasic (knee) is out. Striker Stevan Jovetic (hamstring) has also not travelled with the squad. Andres Iniesta is Barcelona's only major doubt after he missed the defeat to Valladolid due to personal reasons.
After a goalless first half, the turning point came in the 54th minute when Martin Demichelis was sent off for a foul inside the box on Lionel Messi, who promptly struck from the penalty spot. City battled bravely with 10 men but Barcelona's domination of possession was rewarded late on thanks to a goal from Daniel Alves.
Players to watch
Barcelona - Lionel Messi
An obvious choice, perhaps. But the Argentine genius is the hub of Barca's play. He has been hampered by injury and illness this season, with a growing feeling that he has not been at his best during 2013/14 so far. That he has still scored 22 goals in 24 games - eight in his last seven - points to his genius.
Manchester City - Sergio Aguero
Messi's international team-mate had been in stupendous form before a hamstring injury during the 5-1 win at Tottenham in January. Before that setback, he had scored 25 goals in his last 21 games. He failed to find the net in only three of those. His absence was keenly felt in the blue half of Manchester. After scoring 24 in six games before the win at Spurs, City scored only four times in the five games he missed. Aguero has failed to find the net in two games since returning from injury; if City are to spring one of the all-time great Champions League shocks, they surely need their star striker back at his pre-injury best.
Do you remember?
The defensive midfielder spent four seasons in the Premier League with West Ham and Liverpool although he only played five times for the Hammers during a brief spell before his move to Anfield from in January 2007. It didn't take long for the Argentina international, who was unusually contracted to Media Sports Investments until signing a permanent contract at Liverpool in 2008, to become a key member of the Reds line-up as he helped them reach the Champions League final, which they ultimately lost 2-1 against AC Milan. Liverpool fans had to wait over a year after his arrival to witness his first goal for the club when he blasted home a cracker against Reading and that was to be his last in the Premier League - although it was his deflected strike which led to a goal in a derby victory over Everton in November 2009. Known for his feisty attitude and tough tackling, Mascherano was very much a crowd favourite until his departure to Barcelona for around 24 million euros in August 2010.
A product of Barcelona's youth set-up, Gerard Pique undoubtedly made his name as one of Spain's finest defenders after rejoining the Catalan giants in 2008 from Manchester United, where he struggled to make a breakthrough in nearly four years at Old Trafford. Pique made his Red Devils debut from the subs bench in a League Cup clash back in October 2004 but it wasn't until March 2006 when he was handed his first start in a Premier League match against West Ham. The following season was spent on loan at Real Zaragoza but he returned to United for the 2007/08 campaign during which he managed just 12 appearences in all competitions prior to his sale back to Barcelona.
Barcelona are 1/2 favourites with Sky Bet to claim victory tonight and just 1/50 to progress to the next round while Man City can be backed at 9/2 and 14/1 respectively. The draw after 90 minutes tonight is 18/5.
Sky Bet's PRICE BOOSTS include Cesc Fabregas to score first (8/1 from 7/1), Yaya Toure to score first (12/1 from 11/1), Barcelona to win 2-0 (9/1 from 15/2) and Manchester City to win 2-1 (18/1 from 16/1). The biggest priced scorecast boost is Edin Dzeko to score first in a 1-1 draw which is now 80/1.
We also have Andy Schooler's betting tips for the night's Champions League action to check out too.