Barcelona players Lionel Messi
and Cesc Fabregas celebrate a goal against Real Sociedad, 12 February. Reuters
Manchester City crossed that first hurdle of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League this season rather well, even managing to beat the seemingly unbeatable Bayern Munich in the group stages.
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for an 8.45 pm CET (1.15 am IST Wednesday morning) start with live coverage on Ten Action and Ten HD in India. The match can also be watched through live streaming online HERE. Catch the action in the US HERE, while Australia viewers can live stream the match HERE. Viewers in the UK can catch the action on ITV, with the live streaming option HERE or HERE. The game can be live streamed in the Middle East and North Africa HERE, while the rest of Africa viewers can use the link HERE. Viewers in Canada can catch the action live online HERE, while Latin America viewers can live stream the game HERE.
The next, pretty significant hurdle, comes in the shape of been-there-and-done-that-plenty-of-times Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League.
The last time City faced a thoroughbred opponent in the Champions League at the Etihad, it did not go so well, with Bayern outclassing Manuel Pellegrini's men in all departments.
However, this is a City side that have grown considerably since that defeat, and one that holds a superlative record at home, where they host Barca for the first leg.
"It's a good test for us," Pellegrini said. "We have played well so far this season and it is important we continue this way until the end of the campaign.
"The most important things is that we are the same team we are every week in the Premier League -- the same style and intensity but we have to consider Barcelona's strengths, too.
"I'm sure our fans will enjoy this game. I think our supporters are enjoying this season and it is important we play in a style they enjoy watching, too."
It is a game against two teams that are a joy to watch going forward, and therefore promises a we-score-and-you-score 90 minutes of enthralling action. "We are very focused on this game," former Barcelona midfielder and current City favourite Yaya Toure said. "We have to be 100 percent to beat Barcelona but if we want to be the best team in the world, we have to beat and be able to compete with teams like this."
Barcelona left the Champions League last season on a rather sour note, with eventual champions Bayern Munich absolutely mauling them 7-0 on aggregate in the semifinals. There will be an added determination to show the rest of Europe that they are far from a spent force, and City could be the first in line to bear the brunt.
"Perhaps teams don't fear us as much because we have not won this competition for two years," former Manchester United defender Gerard Pique said. "However they [Manchester City] still respect us as we're a team full of players who have won the World Cup and Champions League. We can still be the best, and this is a great chance to show the world that we have top players that can win this game."
This is probably City's biggest ever European match, with the Blue Half of Manchester coming up against the Spanish giants for the first time in a competitive fixture. Outlast Barcelona, and Pellegrini's claims of City now being the best club in Manchester might just hold some credence.
Team news: Manchester City: Sergio Aguero is not fit enough to be included in the squad, while James Milner misses out through suspension. Pellegrini, though, has received a big boost in the mould of Fernandinho. "Aguero is not in the squad but we will see if we can have him back for Stoke City on Saturday," Pellegrini said. "Fernandinho has a chance to play. He is in the squad and trained without any problems today [Monday]."
Barcelona: Neymar made a sparkling return to the Barcelona lineup, scoring against Rayo Vallecano. But manager Gerardo Martino insisted he will not risk the Brazilian, if he thinks the forward cannot make it from the start. Xavi is expected to be available to after missing the La Liga clash at the weekend.
Key men: Manchester City: Yaya Toure will be keen to make an impression against his former side. Expect those trademark bursts from midfield time and again.
Barcelona: Cannot look beyond Lionel Messi, who scored a brace in La Liga on Saturday. If the Argentine is in the mood, then City could be in for some serious pain.
Expected lineups: Manchester City: Joe Hart; Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany, Martin Demichelis, Aleksandr Kolarov; Yaya Toure, Fernandinho; Samir Nasri, Edin Dzeko, David Silva; Alvaro Negredo.
Barcelona: Victor Valdes; Daniel Alves, Gerard Pique, Javier Mascherano; Jordi Alba; Xavi, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta; Alexis Sanchez, Lionel Messi, Pedro Rodriguez.
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