Daily Debate: Can City best Barca?

With Manchester City due to face Barcelona tonight in the Champions League, two TEAMtalk writers debate whether City have enough to beat Barca.

Last Updated: 19/02/14 at 06:49 Post Comment

Former team-mates Yaya Toure and Lionel Messi go head-to-head tonight

Former team-mates Yaya Toure and Lionel Messi go head-to-head tonight

In Daily Debate, two TEAMtalk writers give their views on a hot topic and then invite readers to decide who has put forward the best argument.

You can vote for your winner using the story comment facility at the bottom of the article, or by declaring your support on Twitter.

Can Manchester City overcome Barcelona in the Champions League?

Making the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time, Manchester City have Barcelona between themselves and another historic milestone for the club.

But, despite their impressive performances domestically, are City good enough to surpass the four-time winners of the competition?

James Dixon and Matt Stead have their say...

James Dixon (@JDixon_88) - YES

There is no question Manchester City are facing a huge challenge to reach the last eight of the Champions League for the first time, against a true juggernaut of world football. However, City have taken enormous steps this season and have shown they are more than capable of holding their own with Europe's elite.

City's last game in Europe saw them stage a memorable comeback against the continent's best side, Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena, thus proving their pedigree.

Key to the Blues success in overcoming the Catalan giants will be their goalscoring threat which has been unstoppable in the Premier League and in Europe's top competition, seeing them net 18 times already in the current campaign.

On top of City's lethal eye for goals, the way Manuel Pellegrini has constructed his side makes them the perfect foil for Barca.

The Spanish giants' recent failures in the Champions League against Chelsea and Bayern have seen them go out to powerful, pacey teams capable of counter attacking.

With the likes of Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure, Fernandinho and Alvaro Negredo City have the destructive power to compliment the pace and the guile of Jesus Navas, David Silva and Samir Nasri.

However, what is more likely to determine the two legs is which Barcelona side turn up.

The days of the all-conquering Barca under Pep Guardiola have gone, with Jose Mourinho notably saying: "this is the worst Barcelona of many, many years."

Furthermore, this Champions League Stats piece alludes to Barcelona's poor record in England, specifically the barren run the talismanic Lionel Messi has endured on these shores.

Having recently made his comeback from injury, Messi is still to look his very best and that can't be downplayed given his instrumental role in the side.

The Argentine has played on English soil nine times, managing only one goal and two assists in 807 minutes of playing time. And Barca themselves have won only one of their last eight games in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

City certainly have a difficult double header against the La Liga leaders, but Barcelona are a different animal these days and there may not be a better time to play them and continue to the club's run into the Champions League history books.

State your support for James using the story comment facility below or by tweeting the hashtag #TTCity to @TEAMtalk.

Matt Stead (@MattStead91) - NO

Can Manchester City beat Barcelona? Of course they can; anything can happen in football. Will Manchester City beat Barcelona? Simply put, no.

Barcelona's supposed fall from grace has been highlighted for the past year or so now, coinciding with the meteoric rise of an imposing Bayern Munich side. Gerardo Martino has come in for much criticism since taking up the post as manager, stars such as Xavi and Iniesta are 'past it', and Lionel Messi doesn't perform in England.

Now restore some perspective. Barcelona are top of La Liga - scoring the most and conceding the second least goals in the process - and are comfortably in the final of the Copa del Rey. They're just as brilliant as ever.

What's more, they have the experience at this stage and much, much further, something that Manchester City lack in abundance.

While the stats suggest that Barca could struggle - especially at the Etihad against a free-scoring City - Martino has built on the work ethic and defensive capabilities of the Catalan side.

The 17 goals they have conceded in La Liga this season is an improvement on 27 at this stage last season, and 18 the season before, pointing towards a more impenetrable backline. With Sergio Aguero sidelined too, City will struggle to breach Victor Valdes' goal both home and away.

Indeed, City could play into Barcelona's hands, if Manuel Pellegrini is to be believed. City's defensive frailties this season are all too well-documented, and with Lionel Messi returning to his quite startling form and the Barca side fresh from Martino's squad rotation, I can't see anything but a routine Barca victory over two legs.

In almost every analysis of the game I have seen, it's about "how do Manchester City beat Barcelona?", or "Can City stop Lionel Messi?" There's a reason it's not the other way around. It's not a case of Barcelona having to prove whether they're capable of beating City because, man for man, they're just better.

The onus is on City to stop the Spanish champions, but they have neither the nous nor the players to do so.

Martino might not be far wrong when he insists that it is "the tightest tie of all", but as long as his players perform as well as they can - and recent form suggests they will - City are facing yet more European disappointment.

State your support for Matt using the story comment facility below or by tweeting the hashtag #TTBarca to @TEAMtalk.

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