Barcelona v Manchester City: the key battles

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Highlights of all the UEFA Champions League matches so far

Here are five key matches set to define Barcelona's UEFA Champions League clash against Manchester City.

1) Pep Guardiola v Jose Enrique

Who knows the Barcelona philosophy better than the man who perfected it? A product of Barcelona’s famous La Masia youth academy, Pep Guardiola captained the club as a player, before going on to manage the club to 14 trophies in four years from 2008-2012.

The only other time Pep has faced Barcelona was in 2015 when his Bayern Munich side was knocked out of the Champions League semi-final. Don't be fooled by Pep's pleasantries exchanged ahead of this match, the 45 year-old will be itching for redemption.

When Guardiola was promoted to manage Barcelona's first team in 2008, it was Luis Enrique who replaced him at the helm of Barcelona B, he now has the chance to get one up on his former mentor.

If Enrique loses, it will only highlight Guardiola’s superiority, with City having never previously defeated Catalan club in the Champions League.

2) Claudio Bravo v Marc Ter Stegen

With the both sides boasting plenty of firepower up front, Ter Stegen and Claudio Bravo will need to be at the top of their game for Barcelona and Manchester City respectively.

Claudio Bravo, who left Barcelona for Manchester City in the off season will be hoping he has a stormer in goals after struggling to hold down his place as first choice keeper ahead of Barcelona's current keeper Ter Stagen. 

3) Sergio Aguero v Javier Mascherano

Undoubtedly City’s focal point in attack, Sergio Aguero’s form will dictate how City fares at the Camp Nou. Despite copping criticism for his recent struggles from the penalty spot, he has been at his clinical best from open play.

On his day, Aguero is one of the best strikers in the world and Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano will have his hands full containing the 28 year-old. 

Aguero will have his own defensive responsibility against Mascherano, leading a high press and trying to make life uncomfortable for Barcelona, which enjoys playing out from the back.

4) Lionel Messi v Fernandinho

As far as defensive assignments go, it doesn’t get any bigger than this for Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho, who will have to contain (or at least try to contain) Lionel Messi.

Fernandinho plays a crucial role in Pep Guardiola's side, sitting and screening the back four, which gives the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva free attacking reign.

The 31 year-old will have to hold his own in midfield and close down Messi when he inevitably drifts inside, while disrupting Barcelona’s intricate passing in midfield.

Lionel Messi needs no introduction, we all know what the four-time Ballon d’Or winner is capable of, but he may be lacking match fitness as he makes his first appearance since injuring his groin against Atletico Madrid on 22 September. 

5) Luis Suarez v Vincent Kompany

City will be eying the return of captain Vincent Kompany, who missed the last seven matches with a groin injury.

Pep Guardiola summed up Kompany’s importance to the side ahead of the clash with Barcelona, saying "I need him, we need him."

If fit, there’s no question the Belgian defender will start and bring much-needed steel to City’s back four.

Unfortunately for Kompany, he'll have Luis Suarez to contend, who has bagged nine goals in 11 matches this season.

Switch off for one second, and Suarez can stick the ball can be in the back of the net. He only needs half a chance and when you add in the fact Barcelona has scored in its last 17 Champions League games at home, Kompany will need to bring his A-game.