Manchester City v Barcelona: Luis Enrique Wants Rresponse to Malaga Loss

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OMNISPORT

Barcelona will seek to exorcise the demons of Saturday's "painful" home defeat by overcoming Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League.

Luis Enrique's side were lacklustre in a 1-0 La Liga loss to Malaga, which handed the initiative firmly to rivals Real Madrid in the domestic title race.

But the Catalan club still harbour hopes of completing a treble this season, with European aspirations taking centre stage on Tuesday as Barca head to the home of the English champions.

And assuaging the hurt of the weekend's setback is top of coach Luis Enrique's priorities.

"Defeats are painful whenever they occur and are difficult to overcome, but we have a great challenge [against Manchester City]," he said.

"I hope this [performance against Malaga] was an accident, but we will see in the coming weeks."

The result ended a run of 11 consecutive victories for Barca, who are on the brink of reaching the Copa del Rey final after their 3-1 first-leg triumph over Villarreal.

Barca overcame City at the same stage of last season's Champions League, a 4-1 aggregate success set up by a 2-0 win at the Etihad Stadium, with Manuel Pellegrini's side having a man sent off in both fixtures.

The hosts head into the match having rediscovered their form and scoring touch, with the last two Premier League games yielding six points and nine goals.

Saturday's 5-0 hammering of Newcastle United was City's first triumph at home since New Year's Day and came on the same day leaders Chelsea dropped points against Burnley.

With his side's title chances having received a boost, Pellegrini's focus will now fall on helping City reach the quarter-finals for the first time.


PLAYERS TO WATCH

The Chilean may have to make do without James Milner, who missed the Newcastle match with a knee injury, while Yaya Toure will not be able to face his former club as he concludes a suspension following his dismissal against CSKA Moscow.

A 21-man Barca squad will make the trip to Manchester, with the one cause for concern being defender Jordi Alba, who trained alone on Sunday following a knock.

One man among the visiting contingent who may have more to prove than the rest is Dani Alves, whose failure to deal with a straightforward long ball allowed Juanmi to net Malaga's winner at Camp Nou.

The Brazilian will have fond memories of facing City, though, having netted in both legs last season.

The return leg will take place in Barcelona on March 18 - just four days before El Clasico.


MATCH CENTER

  • This is only the second time Manchester City and Barcelona will meet in European competition. The first was exactly at the same stage last season when the Catalans beat Manuel Pellegrini 4-1 on aggregate, which included a 2-0 win at the Etihad.
  • Manchester City have reached the knockout stages of the Champions League for the second season running. They have never made it past the last 16 though.
  • Manchester City have won their last two Champions League games (v Bayern Munich and Roma) after failing to win any of their previous six.
  • Manchester City have only kept one clean sheet in 13 home Champions League games (2-0 v Bayern Munich, December 2011).
  • Barcelona have made it to the knockout stages of the Champions League for the 11th consecutive campaign. They have always made it at least to the quarter finals in the last seven seasons.
  • Barcelona have won their last four Champions League games, only Real Madrid are currently on a longer run (9 wins).
  • In the last seven Champions League knockout encounters with English clubs, Barcelona have prevailed six times, the only exception being the semi-final against Chelsea in 2011/12 when they lost 3-2 on aggregate.
  • Barcelona have only won one of their last seven away games in the knockout stages of the Champions League (D2 L4), it was against Manchester City in February 2014.
  • Barcelona have dominated possession in each of their last 92 Champions League games. The last time they had the ball less than their opponent was in December 2006 against Werder Bremen (43%).
  • 14 of Barcelona's 15 goals in the Champions League this season have been scored from open play.
  • Barcelona have completed 90% of their passes, the highest ratio in the Champions League this season.
  • Sergio Aguero has scored 10 goals in his last nine Champions League games.
  • Lionel Messi has scored (8) or assisted (2) 10 of Barcelona's 15 goals in the Champions League this season. Top scorer in the history of the competition (75 goals), he's netted in each of his last five games. He’s never managed it six games running.

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