City’s biggest test yet comes against Barca in Champions League
So, the draw has been made for the Champions League last 16. It is clear to everyone who has been paying attention that should Manchester City beat Barcelona it will significantly raise their status in Europe, and dramatically shorten their odds to win the competition.
At the quarter-final stage, there are no bad teams left in the tournament. Currently, Manuel Pellegrini’s side are fifth favourites with Coral at 14/1 to lift Europe’s elite trophy. Bayern Munich, last season’s winners Real Madrid, Barcelona and Chelsea are ahead of them in the betting, with their Premier League rivals available at half the price (7/1) City are offered at.
This match is without a doubt the most important in City’s history. All their hard work so far has led to this moment, and is a testament to how far they have come in the last five years. This is a repeat of the last 16 from earlier this year in a tie that Pellegrini’s men were humbled 4-1 over two legs.
However, Barca have wobbled this term. PSG recorded a 3-2 victory over the Catalan kings in the group stage, and City, who are arguably at the same level in their perceived pursuit of dominance as the French champions, will label this as ‘must win’.
They need Sergio Aguero back to stand any chance of qualifying. And yet, without him, City pulled off what could be construed as a ‘Christmas miracle’ by beating Roma away to progress from their group.
With the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez set to line up against them, their defence will also need to be on top form to stand any chance of making the quarter finals.
Beat Barca and it will restore their confidence to go all the way. Chelsea managed it in 2012, against heavy odds and went on to lift the trophy. It’s not impossible, though Pellegrini must instil the spirit and togetherness to get the job done.