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Preview: Manchester City v Barcelona

David Ramos

This is a familiar place to be as a Man City fan. Underdogs, behind by 2 goals, and not much hope of pulling off a win. Fact of the matter is that it puts a lot less pressure on our players. If we lose tonight, then that's what was expected. City fans aren't going to lose their minds over it. Sure there will be more ink spilled about Pellegrini as a coach, and about our defense, but that'll happen anyways.

This is probably the best time to meet up with Barcelona, as they have lost 2 of their last 3 matches, one of which against lowly Valladolid. The indestructible Lionel Messi seems mortal for the first time, as he is battling some unknown condition which has left him a little off his game. Neymar doesn't seem as though he is fully on his game right now either. Puyol is leaving at the end of the season, and without him the defense is always more suspect.

That being said, reports of Barcelona being in a free-fall decline have been greatly exaggerated. They have only allowed 2 or more goals 5 times this season, and have won 3 of those 5. They are still a dominant team full of world-class players.

When City play against most teams in the Premier League, we can usually win as long as we get 3 players to have great games. As long as no one is playing terribly, that's usually enough to get three points. Against Barcelona, we need to have more players than that step up. At a minimum, we'll need Aguero, Silva, Nasri, Yaya, Fernandinho, and Kompany to play their best. If one of that group doesn't play well, then I don't see us advancing.

Philosophical point: The mere fact that we are trying to figure out how to beat Barcelona in the Champion's League is an amazing thing. They've won 4 titles, and been runners up 3 more times. This is the furthest we've ever been in the competition. We have world-class players of our own, and they're good players as well as good guys. There's not a person on the team I don't like (although I probably wouldn't choose to hang out with Kolarov. Too scary).

It's an amazing time to be a Man City fan, so if we win, then awesome. If not, we'll give it another go next season. This isn't the kind of club where we fire people for not winning the Champion's League.

Projected lineup: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Yaya, Nasri, Silva, Aguero, Negredo.

Projected scoreline (realistically): City 2 - Barcelona 2

Projected scoreline (optimistically): City 3 - Barcelona 1