Barcelona boss Gerardo Martino has assured that whilst Man City are a very good side, they won’t enjoy facing the Catalans either.
The Champions League second round phase has thrown up some cracking fixtures. Bayern Munich against Arsenal, Drogba’s return to Stamford Bridge but without doubt the standout fixture is Manchester City’s first ever second round Champions League clash against recent winners Barcelona.
The 2006, 2009 and 2011 champions still have the core of a side labeled ‘one of the best club sides ever’ and Manchester City will not have faced the relentless pressure Barcelona possess. It’s a great match-up, but one that would have been more fitting for a later date in the competition.
The newspapers in Barcelona have been somewhat fearful of Pellegrini’s Manchester City side, with one newspaper simply reading ‘El City, NO’
However, Gerardo Martino is looking forward to the challenge and especially facing a fellow South American.
"It's true that City is a very big opponent with excellent players, I imagine that they won't have liked being drawn against Barça either"
"The objective is to get to February on good form. An opponent can be one thing in December and another in February. For us it's important to get to the round of 16 on good form,"
Tata Martino also had some encouraging words to say about his fellow South American coach.
"I followed Bielsa closely and I was always interested in Pellegrini's career, both in Europe and in South America. He is one of the best coaches in the world. I'm delighted to be facing him."
Despite the initial excitement, the ties don’t take place until February 18 and the return leg in Barcelona on March 12. Plenty of football stands between now and those dates and in football things can change very quickly. For the neutrals, we can only hope that both Lionel Messi and his Argentine colleague Sergio Aguero have fully recovered from their injuries and are going into the tie fully fit.
Who will come out on top in this eagerly anticipated encounter?
image: © jeroen_bennink