Why a Manchester City red card looks likely in Barcelona clash

Manchester City have made a habit of getting players sent off against Barcelona and match official Gianluca Rocchi is unlikely to buck that trend.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side face a season-defining clash with Barcelona in the Camp Nou later, but any Manchester City fans hoping for an easy ride from the referee could be left sorely disappointed.

The Sky Blues have an abysmal disciplinary record in games played against the Catalans, with a City player sent off in each of their previous three Champions League meetings with Barca.

And that worrying trend could well continue when they take on Luis Enrique’s team later, particularly with Gianluca Rocchi in charge of proceedings.

A 41-year-old Italian match official who boasts a wealth of experience in both Serie A and European competition, Rocchi’s record should nevertheless be a cause for concern among those of the City persuasion.

Something of a reactionary match official, the Italian has established a reputation for brandishing cards aplenty in his homeland and that can only spell bad news for the Sky Blues.

Astonishingly, Rocchi has sent off players in nine of his last 11 outings in all competitions as a referee, with the Italian racking up a red card in both of the two games he had taken charge of in Serie A already this month.

He’s also sent off four players across his four outings as a match official for UEFA this season.

Rocchi issued a red card to Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny during the Gunners 4-1 home victory over Galatassaray back in the group phase.

More worrying though is the red card he gave to Apoel Nicosia defender Joao Guilherme during their clash with City’s upcoming opponents Barcelona in the group stages.

Though the Catalans eventually found themselves a man light after Rafinha received a second yellow card, the referee appeared all too happy to “protect” Barcelona from their underdog opponents on the night.

But while this last point remains a source of contention, few can argue that his prolific run of red cards both domestically and in Europe should be of serious concern to the Sky Blues.

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