FC Barcelona moved into the top slot on goal difference at the weekend after beating bottom of the La Liga Rayo Vallecano by 6 goals to nil. Something tells me this campaign will go down to the wire with three tops clubs eying the Spanish League title.
Rayo certainly got slapped about by a Barcelona side out to silence its critics. Man City didn’t fare too badly either by beating Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea by 2 goals to nil in the FA Cup. These two “dress rehearsals” set both clubs up for Tuesday’s showdown in Manchester in the first leg of their last 16 Champions League clash.
According to Sam Wallace from The Independent, he says that “No English club has been better equipped to beat this Barcelona side first time than Manchester City”.
We will have to wait till tomorrow night to see if he is right but judging by the way Man City beat Chelsea at the weekend, Barcelona will find themselves in a dog fight with Pellegrini’s men.
Wallace talks about the psychological barrier that surrounds Barcelona and that Manchester united never overcome it the last time they met at Wembley, when they went down to the Catalan giants rather too easily. This is the first step to overcome if City are to take out Barça over two legs.
In the same season, 2011, Arsenal FC proved they learned the lesson against the Catalans and beat them 2-1 at the Emirates stadium. they might even have prevailed in the tie if Van Persie wasn’t sent off for shooting after the whistle – a very soft sending off indeed.
The following year, Chelsea did take Barcelona all the way under Roberto Di Matteo and managed a 2-2 draw to go through to the final with just 10 men. The question now is this; what will Man City make of this new Barcelona that is under the control of Gerardo Martino?
If City wants to make history and aspire to be the best, then now is the time to step up to the mark. By beating Barcelona, they will show that they have reached a certain standard in European football, the gold standard, if you like.
Barcelona have the ability to beat teams before they walk out of the tunnel, rather like Manchester United under the control of Fergie. The colour of the shirts, the badge along with the reputation, proved too much for lots of teams. This is like Barcelona, they have all the above ingredients and it will be no mean feat if City turn them over tomorrow.