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Barca and Manchester City prepare for vital Champions League return leg

English.news.cn   2014-03-11 17:08:41

MADRID, March 11 (Xinhua) -- Both FC Barcelona and Manchester City will be looking to put crisis talk behind them when the pair go head to head in the Camp Nou Stadium on Wednesday night for a place in the last eight of the Champions League.

Barca look to hold all of the aces after their 2-0 win in Manchester three weeks ago. Under normal circumstances Tata Martino's men would be considered clear favorites to qualify for the quarter finals.

However, Barcelona's 1-0 defeat in Valladolid on Saturday, and above all the manner of the defeat, which saw the Spanish champions outplayed and outfought by a side which has been occupying one of the relegation places, has set alarm bells ringing.

The Barca press are talking of an institutional and sporting crisis and there is very much an 'end of an era' feel about the club, even more so with the imminent departure of veteran players, Carles Puyol and Victor Valdes at the end of the season.

Forward Alexis Sanchez has tried to put a brave face on things with a press conference in which he stated: "It's just one game. We need to turn the page but I think we're relaxed. We're under pressure to win matches."

"We're all Barcelona through and through, and pulling in the same direction. People are acting as if somebody had died."

Alexis may be banging the drum, but it is obvious that Barca need to find the efficient form they produced in Manchester, rather than the flat displays which have typified their league matches since then and seen them beaten by both Valladolid and Real Sociedad.

Manchester City travel to Spain with their own problems after being knocked out of the FA Cup by second division Wigan Athletic on Sunday, as Chelsea moved nine points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League, all be it after playing three more games.

Coach Manuel Pellegrini was criticized for his conservative tactics in the first leg, but will recover striker, Kun Aguero for the return and Aguero is likely to partner the in-form Alvaro Negredo, who was left isolated in attack in the first match. Meanwhile Martin Demichelis, who was sent off in the first leg is suspended and will be replaced by Jolean Lescott.

"We must react. We still have a chance and we will try to play a very good game and we will see what happens against Barcelona," said Pellegrini after the Wigan defeat, in which he highlighted that the weekend setback could spark the reaction that is needed in the Camp Nou.

"Winning always gives you confidence but maybe a game like this can bring a reaction from the team. It could be positive," he said.

Wednesday promises to be a far more open game than the tactical battle in Manchester and if Barcelona are physically below their best there is a chance that Manchester City can make them suffer. One thing that is certain however, is that when the final whistle blows, one of the two sides will officially be in crisis.

Editor: Shen Qing
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