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City ready for Barca battle

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini does not believe facing Barcelona is the fearsome prospect it once was.

Last Updated: 16/12/13 at 21:33 Post Comment

Manchester City insist they are confident of beating Barcelona after being pitted against the Catalan side in an eye-catching Champions League draw that will also see Arsenal take on the holders Bayern Munich.

The other two English sides had, on the face of it, easier draws for the first knockout round with Jose Mourinho's Chelsea facing their former striker Didier Drogba's Galatasaray, while David Moyes' Manchester United take on Greek champions Olympiacos.

City may have paid a steep price for failing to top their group but in the build-up to the draw at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, were the one team that Barcelona had been keen to avoid - the local sports daily El Mundo Deportivo's front page had stated simply "El City, No!"

City boss Manuel Pellegrini does not believe facing Barcelona is the fearsome prospect it once was.

He said: "I think they will be very concerned also. Barcelona is not the team it was two years ago.

"I think it is a beautiful game with two very good teams."

Arsenal beat Bayern 2-0 in Munich at the same stage last season but went out on away goals - the German side having won 3-1 at the Emirates.

Gunners winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain said: "We managed to get a good result away at Bayern last season so that brings back good memories. If you're going to do well in the competition you've got to beat the best teams."

Arsenal now have German international playmaker Mesut Ozil in their ranks and Bayern defender Jerome Boateng admitted: "They're the toughest opponents we could have had. They'll be totally up for it after what happened last year. Both matches will be very intense."

Drogba said he was relishing his match against Chelsea, having scored the equaliser and then the winning penalty against Bayern Munich to win the competition in 2012.

"What a draw... I'm the luckiest man in this competition," he said on his official Instagram account. "In both games I'll be playing home! See you in few months."

Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata said it would be a fond reunion for all concerned.

He told the official Chelsea website: "Didier was a legend here. I guess that he would be very excited about coming back. He did a lot of great things for this club and scored a lot of very important goals. In fact, he scored probably the most important goals in the history of this club."

In other matches, Real Madrid face German opposition in the form of Schalke 04, last year's runners up Borussia Dortmund take on Zenit St Petersburg, AC Milan will play in-form Spanish side Atletico Madrid while Bayer Leverkusen face big-spending Paris Saint-Germain.

John Alexander, Manchester United's club secretary, said the Premier League champions' straightforward draw highlighted how important it had been to win their group.

He told uefa.com: "If you look at the ties Arsenal and City got, that shows why you have got to win the group. Whoever came out of the pot would have been a good one to draw. United are a big club in Greece so we will have a good following over there."


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Chelsea's John Obi Mikel has attempted to play down the significance of Drogba's return to Stamford Bridge.

He said: "We shouldn't get carried away about him coming back; he is a player that was here for eight years, he won major trophies, he's a big player with a big personality.

"Obviously he had to move on but Chelsea continue, we have to win games, he's coming here with his new club, Galatasaray, who we want to beat, so we shouldn't get carried away about him coming back, we want to win the game."

Mikel added on Chelsea's website: "They are a great team. Didier, Wesley (Sneijder), they have a good team and obviously they have Roberto Mancini who is trying to implement his philosophy and change the way they play.

"It will be tough but it's a game we're looking forward to. It will be good to meet old rivals, who you have played against in the past, as well as old team-mates."

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G

ood lord that's got me unnecessarily excited. Damn you Storey. Cut to Liverpool being crushed under the wheels of Sparky's Stoke Machine and Firmino brought off the bench to no effect. It's the hope that kills you.

suarez_blind
Roberto Firmino: Steel To Complement The Silk

N

o Schweini? Have to admit that I did a little sex wee when we signed him and I can't wait to see him in action!!!

spence
F365's Top Ten Players We Can't Wait To Watch

I

think he'll do quite well. My only reservation would be Kagawa, who had similar stats to Firmino in the bundesliga before he came, but time will tell.

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Roberto Firmino: Steel To Complement The Silk

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