Yaya Toure in emotional reunion with former teammates
Jesus Navas has warned Barcelona that Manchester City are “full of confidence” ahead of their Champions League last-16 tie today. In the other match of the day, Bayer Leverkusen will be home to Paris Saint Germain (PSG).
Manuel Pellegrini’s side head into the clash having knocked Chelsea out of the FA Cup, but the winger is keen not to underestimate the Spanish champions.
“I reckon they won’t be happy having to come here,” Navas told United Kingdomâ€™s The Guardian. “They will find we are a really difficult team to play against and to beat. We are playing very well, creating chances scoring a lot of goals.
“We are full of confidence. The one thing we must do is play with high pressure and high tempo because they have some top-quality players.
“Maybe they don’t play as well as three or four years ago, but that is normal – the rivals study the way you play and find a tactic to counteract your strengths. The cycles in football don’t last forever.
“It is very, very difficult to keep playing with that kind of style year in and year out. But, that said, they are top of La Liga and they are in the final of the Copa Del Rey. It is always difficult to face Barcelona, they always have top-quality players.
“We have been training hard and hopefully by preparing for this match well we can go through to the next round.”
Meanwhile, Ivorian midfielder, Yaya Toure, is looking forward to taking on his former club in the Last 16 first leg at the Etihad Stadium today.
Toure enjoyed a successful spell with the Catalans before joining City in 2010 and he admits that playing against his old team will be a tough challenge.
â€œItâ€™s difficult because I donâ€™t really want to play Barcelona,â€ he told UEFA.com. â€œItâ€™s a club I have a lot of respect for, a club which taught me a lot and where I have many friends who helped me.
However, the 30-year old is hopeful that his current side will go even further in the competition this season having crashed out of the group stages in the last two editions.
â€œThe first two campaigns were difficult, but now everything is going well,â€ said Toure.
â€œWe have a manager who has a very good vision of how we should play. He understands football and teaches us a lot.
â€œIt will be a great match and we have a great desire to show our fans and everyone else that City are on the right track.â€
Sadly, City Coach, Manuel Pellegrini, has ruled out Sergio Aguero who is not fully recovered from a hamstring injury from the clash tonight.
The 25-year-old Argentina forward, who has scored six times in five Champions League matches this season, pulled his hamstring after scoring in City’s 5-1 win at Tottenham Hotspur on January 29 and has missed the last three matches.
“Aguero did not train today (yesterday) and is not on the squad list for the big match against Barcelona, he will not be fit,” Pellegrini told reporters at the Etihad Stadium yesterday.
“We will see if he can be fit for Saturday but that is also difficult.”
There was good news for City, however, as Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho has recovered from a thigh injury and will be in the squad against Barcelona after also missing the last three games.
Also, City will be boosted by the return of midfielder Samir Nasri, who scored the second goal during Saturday’s FA Cup 2-0 win over Chelsea.
Barcelona who on the other hand has not faltered before the semi-final stage in its last six appearances in the competition will look to maintain its record by getting a positive result away from home.
Fullback Dani Alves is aware that the Catalans will be up against strong opponents, but insists that they will play for nothing less than a win at the Etihad this night.
â€œWe know we have a big test coming up against Manchester City â€“ and we expect two very tough games,â€ said Alves.
â€œThey have very good international players in every position â€“ and we will need to play well if we are to progress in a competition that means so much to everybody at Barcelona.
â€œThey are not easy to beat in Manchester â€“ but not one Barcelona player will be thinking about getting a draw. We will play to win.â€
Gerardo Martino’s side will also be expecting Neymar Junior to make an impact during the game after coming off the bench to score during the 6-0 La Liga win over Rayo Vallecano.
The second leg will be played at the Camp Nou on March 12.