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Man City to edge Champions League first leg Barca battle

Barcelona haven’t won any of their last five visits to England, while Manchester City are unbeaten in all four home games with Spanish opposition.

City host Spanish giants Barca on February 18th in arguably the standout Champions League last 16 tie. The two sides have never before faced each other in a competitive match, but the Catalans will hold the advantage after being by far the most experienced in the tournament out of the two.

Coral make the defending La Liga champions slight favourites to win the first leg – despite playing away – with odds of 6/4. City, meanwhile, have been priced at 7/4. Back Gerardo Martino’s men to win both legs at 11/4, or the Sky Blues at 14/1.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side have been in fantastic form at home this season, but the recent 1-0 league defeat against Chelsea at the Etihad as well as the 3-1 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League group stages will give Barca hope.

The Spanish league leaders enjoyed a fantastic result at the weekend, with a resounding 6-0 victory over Rayo Vallecano, which saw Lionel Messi bag a brace and incidentally move him to joint-third place in the all-time Primera Division scoring charts.

Four-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi has arguably had a below-standard season so far, compared to his unbelievable stats in recent years, having scored 24 in 27 games in all competitions.

However, Messi was out for spell of nearly two months due to injury before Christmas, but went eight league games without a goal. Five in his last three have certainly shown that he is back to form and you can back him at 6/5 to score anytime in this fixture, or 6/1 to get two or more.

City have been free-scorers at home this season, but with the news that leading marksman Sergio Aguero is definitely out with injury, they will be relying on Alvaro Negredo. The Spaniard has been a great buy and has notched up 24 goals in 38 matches in all competitions since joining from Sevilla.

Negredo is just one goal behind Messi in the Champions League scoring charts this term (with five), and you can back the former at 6/5 to score at anytime.

Coral have given odds of 28/1 for Negredo to finish as the competition’s top scorer, while Messi is priced at 9/2. They both trail Cristiano Ronaldo (1/2), however, who is on nine goals.

Yaya Toure faces his former club, and there are interesting odds of 20/1 that the occasion will be too much for Ivorian and he’ll get sent off.

This fixture has goals written all over it, but back the Premier League side to just edge this one. It’s 10/1 for a 2-1 home victory, while odds of 25/1 say the scoreline will be 3-2 to City.

Barca are the odds-on favourites out of this match to qualify for the quarter finals at 1/2, while 13/8 says there will be a City surprise.