Barcelona and Man City combined XI: Which star forward misses out?
Jamie Clark | 1 November 2016
Barcelona and Man City combined XI
Barcelona battle Manchester City at the Eithad after battering them at the Nou Camp in Champions League action yet again, and that got Coral’s football experts thinking.
Who would make it into a combined XI? There isn’t room for the galaxy of stars that play for the Catalonia club and Premier League leaderts, especially in attack. That means a controversial omission.
Luis Enrique’s visitors are odds-on 6/4 for victory, while hosts City are big 9/5 outsiders for victory and a draw is 5/2. Read on as we reveal who makes it into our combined XI…
Goalkeeper: Marc-Andre ter Stegen
Claudio Bravo has played for both between the sticks, but the Chile custodian is banned and has left a lot to be desired at Man City so far. With Joe Hart loaned out to Torino and Barca summer signing Jasper Cillessen injured, it’s Germany goalie Ter Stegen who gets the nod.
Right back: Pablo Zabaleta
Long-serving Man City right back Zabaleta once played for Espanyol, Barcelona’s local rivals. Since 2008, however, he’s plied his trade at the Etihad and made 50 European appearances for the Sky Blues.
This position is something of a problem for Barca, with utility man Sergi Roberto filling in there with Aleix Vidal failing to live up to expectations.
Centre back: Gerard Pique
With Man City captain Vincent Kompany back fit after injury, ball-playing defender John Stones prone to giving the ball away and Javier Mascherano’s legs ageing, Pique remains in his prime.
There’s little hesitation about selecting the Barcelona man at centre back, but he won’t feature at the Etihad after being sidelined. Read more about whether Man City can exploit the absence of Pique and others in the Barca backline.
Centre back: Nicolas Otamendi
All of our chosen back four have experience of Spanish football, and Otamendi earned his reputation with Valencia. French duo Jeremy Mathieu and Samuel Umtiti are also left-footers and bring their own qualities, but both lack the Argentine’s physicality.
Left back: Jordi Alba
If right back is Barca’s problem position, then the other flank of defence is a worry for Man City. Aleksandar Kolarov’s attacking instincts leave them open down this side, while Gael Clichy has operated as part of a three-man central defence at times this term.
Alba has made left back his own since returning to the Nou Camp from Valencia, however, and is undisputed first-choice for club and country. He’s got exactly the sort of engine to get up and down the pitch that Pep Guardiola is looking to bring in at the Etihad. A pity he misses out here.
Midfield: Kevin De Bruyne
Guardiola waxed lyrical about De Bruyne earlier this season, heralding only Lionel Messi as better than the Belgian. That penalty miss against Everton last time out shows he’s only human, but 18 goals and 20 assists in his first 50 games for Man City is some record.
When it comes to selecting midfielders for this combined XI, 2/1 anytime scorer chance De Bruyne simply offers more than most of his club teammates and Barcelona opponents that include Arda Turan, Denis Suarez, Andre Gomes and Rafinha Alcantara in similar areas.
Midfield: Ivan Rakitic
Croatia international Rakitic is one of many players to have followed the well-trodden path from Sevilla to Barca after eye-catching exploits in Andalusia. Think Dani Alves and Robert Prosinecki.
From a deeper-lying position, Rakitic provides that little bit extra over Sergio Busquets and Fernandinho, though is run close by the in-form Ilkay Gundogan.
Midfield: David Silva
Here’s a stat for you; Silva has more international goals for Spain (28) than Barca contemporaries Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta combined (25). The silky Spaniard is just sumptuous on the ball and proved a joy to watch for Man City.
Born on the Canary Islands, creative influence Silva is in that diminutive playmaking mould that brought his country such sustained success between 2007 and 2013. Like Xavi and Iniesta, he’s passed 100 caps for Spain.
Forward: Lionel Messi
Nobody has scored more goals for either Argentina or Barcelona than the magician that is Messi. Need we say more?
With over 500 senior goals for club and country, including nine for the Catalan giants this term, he has also netted against Man City before alongside one of our other striking selections…
Forward: Sergio Aguero
Should Messi’s Argentina national teammate and Champions League opponent Aguero hit a hat-trick in the Nou Camp, then he will rack up 150 goals for Man City. Since signing from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2011, his strike rate for the Etihad outfit is roughly two-thirds.
Trebles are almost on order for Aguero in this competition with one in the play-offs and another in an earlier group game already under his belt. Those account for six of his 13 goals in all competitions for the Etihad outfit.
Aguero is joined by Messi in a Champions League matchday special of 11/2 for both to score anytime in Manchester. Please note punters, you can stake up to a maximum of €/£20 on this bet.
Forward: Luis Suarez
How many players can say they won the Golden Boot in three different European leagues? Uruguay marksman Suarez is certainly one of them. He was Eredivisie top scorer at Ajax earlier in his career before doing likewise in the Premier League and then again last term in La Liga.
Despite only being eligible to play for Barca for two years following his World Cup biting ban, Suarez is scarily closing in on 100 goals for the Catalan giants.
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