Breaking Down the Danger of Manchester City to Barcelona in the Champions League

Rik Sharma@@riksharma_Featured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2014

Breaking Down the Danger of Manchester City to Barcelona in the Champions League

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    Top form: Man City dispatched Chelsea at the weekend.
    Top form: Man City dispatched Chelsea at the weekend.Associated Press

    Perhaps on the flight over to Manchester Tata Martino will scrap the in-flight entertainment and make his players watch clips of their opponents.

    Manuel Pellegrini's side are dangerous - this is the one team that Barcelona wanted to avoid when the draw was made.

    In a clash as big as this, nothing will be left to chance.

    Each department of City's team will be scrutinised, with possible areas to capitalise on and ones to watch out for highlighted too.

    This is what might be in the briefing for the Blaugrana stars.

The Last Line of Defence

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    Joe Hart has regained his place in the team.
    Joe Hart has regained his place in the team.Jon Super/Associated Press

    Barcelona know that this is not an area of strength for Manchester City.

    Joe Hart has been solid in his last few outings, but earlier in the season made a string of surprising errors.

    Costel Pantilimon started against Chelsea in the FA Cup at the weekend, but despite keeping a clean sheet is likely to be replaced by the England man.

    The brief for Lionel Messi and Co will be to pepper his goal and try to force an error.

    Barcelona’s forwards are quick and lithe, so if Hart spills the ball they will be ready to pounce.

Barca Will Be Wary of City's Attack-Minded Defenders

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    Danger: Vincent Kompany (left).
    Danger: Vincent Kompany (left).Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    The left-back position is the best place for Barcelona to hit City, but they should be aware of both Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov's offensive threat.

    Kolarov was rested this weekend and is the more likely to start. He has a cannon of a left foot and can be dangerous from long-range and set pieces.

    Conceding free-kicks in dangerous areas is not sensible at the best of times, but with this guy around it's extremely ill-advised.

    If Pellegrini opts for Clichy, then his pace on the break is a danger - even if the Frenchman's crossing leaves something to be desired.

    Both Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott are dangerous from corners and, if on form, could prove a difficult wall for Barcelona to circumvent at the other end.

A Midfield with Both Power and Poise

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    Hustle and bustle: Yaya Toure is not a man to be trifled with.
    Hustle and bustle: Yaya Toure is not a man to be trifled with.Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    This is the area in which Man City are strongest, even with Fernandinho out injured.

    Yaya Toure is a powerhouse and Barcelona will know all about him from his time at Camp Nou.

    Some argue that they’ve never really replaced him.

    He will be too strong for Xavi and Andres Iniesta to deal with, so Sergio Busquets will have to step up to the mark.

    Busquets is a superb defensive midfielder and is one of the few in the world who could contain Toure.

    But the danger is that if too much attention is placed on the Ivorian, City’s other attacking midfielders will be able to roam free.

    David Silva is one of the best creative midfielders in the world, extremely clever and incisive with his passing.

    Samir Nasri, who has just returned from injury, may not start, but if he does, he and Silva will be looking to buzz round Busquets and draw Barcelona’s centre-backs out of position.

    Jesus Navas is likely to start on the right and his pace could terrify Jordi Alba, should Barcelona’s left-back venture too far up the field.

    Barcelona may be able to pressure Javi Garcia into errors, but he played well against Chelsea at the weekend.

No Aguero but Still Plenty of Options

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    Walking tall: Negredo is a pillar of power for City
    Walking tall: Negredo is a pillar of power for CityJon Super/Associated Press

    Sergio Aguero is unlikely to make the game, as per the Manchester Evening News, which is the greatest news Barcelona could have received ahead of the tie.

    Playing in his stead is likely to be Alvaro Negredo, who was rested against Chelsea this weekend.

    The man known as “The Beast” is a formidable striker, powerful but not lacking finesse.

    He is likely to be dealt with by veteran centre-back Carles Puyol, while Gerard Pique either takes care of the swifter Stevan Jovetic, or, if City flood the midfield, deal with the most central attacking midfielder from Pellegrini’s team.

    Jovetic is a clever player and, having been out of action for quite some time, it’s not clear exactly which functions he’ll be fulfilling for City – meaning Barcelona might find it difficult to plan for him and track his movement.

The Man with the Masterplan

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    Head to head: It's Martino against Manuel
    Head to head: It's Martino against ManuelGetty Images/Getty Images

    Manuel Pellegrini knows all about Barcelona from his time in Madrid and then Malaga.

    Tata Martino seems to have given up on trying to make changes to Barcelona’s style, so he’ll be well prepared for what is to come.

    As we saw in the group stage when City beat Bayern Munich 3-2, his side will not simply roll over for their more illustrious opponents.

    The recent matches against Chelsea show that Pellegrini learns from his mistakes too, so any areas which Barcelona capitalise on in the first leg, will be looked at and plugged in the second.