In an interview with The Sun, Man City number one Joe Hart was bullish about tonight’s match. “The tie is not over. We’ll remember what we’ve done this season and what we are capable of. A positive performance is key. We need to go out there and show we can really play against the likes of Barcelona. We’ve already shown what we are capable of by winning in the group stage away at Bayern Munich. It’s tough but it’s not impossible.” More below.
Manchester City must win at Camp Nou in order to progress to the next stage of the Champions League, which would be historic as no team ever has come back from a 2-0 home defeat in the first leg. History isn’t on the Citizens side either, but history is not something high on the agenda at Eastlands or, the Etihad. FC Barcelona have not lost in a playoff match at home against an English side for seven years, the last time being Liverpool’s 2007 2-1 victory. English clubs have managed draws in recent campaigns (0-0 Manchester United 2007/8, 0-0 Chelsea 2008/9, 2-2 Chelsea 2011/12), but that won’t be enough for City.
Manchester City assistant manager Rubén Cousillas spoke yesterday ahead of the tonight’s Champions League clash against the Catalans in Barcelona, and claims that the new boys in Manchester will have to put a “complete” performance in order to turn the tie around in their favour. He admitted though that the team, who lost against Barça at the Etihad 2-0 thanks to goals from Messi and Alves, must take risks if they’re willing to reach the Champions League quarter finals. More below.
“Football is made out of nights like this. If anything should give you belief, then it should be that day against QPR.” This is how Vincent Kompany opened his pre-match press conference, hoping to draw on the emotions of May 13th 2012, the final day drama that saw Manchester City claim the Premier League crown. Well, despite how woeful FC Barcelona were on the weekend, they’re still no QPR Mr. Kompany. In his opinion, “it’s all about that first goal. If we get a lead, then the dynamics of the game will change. In my opinion, nothing is better than chasing a lost cause but the motivation is there and the belief is there.” More from the City captain below.
Despite coming heavily under fire since his team’s 1-0 loss to Real Valladolid over the weekend, Gerardo Martino was calm and assured in his pre-match press conference for the Champions League game against Manchester City. Barcelona welcome the Citizens to Camp Nou following a 2-0 victory in the first leg, but Martino urged the team not to become complacent despite their lead. Read on after the jump for more from the Barcelona manager.
There is still plenty to play for. Nary a culé out there will say all is lost. Yes, Bayern Munich still looms large despite drawing Tuesday to Arsenal. Yes, eternal rivals Real Madrid appear to be on an upswing that could very easily annihilate the Catalans’ chances of a fifth La Liga title in six years should they slip up any further. Yes, the Copa del Rey final against Real will also be a nervy test, but at least Barça go into the return leg of the Champions League Round of 16 with a two-goal advantage over Manchester City FC.
“In no case should we have in our heads that we already have a good result,” FC Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino said ahead of Wednesday evening’s clash at the Camp Nou.
So much for thinking positive.
FC Barcelona central defender Javier Mascherano (29) spoke with the media this afternoon ahead of tomorrow’s game against Manchester City, eager to respond to the overwhelming criticism surrounding the team. “We’re not dead,” said the Argentinean defender as he insisted that the team is still aiming for the treble. Continue reading for more from Mascherano’s press conference.
FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has told the BBC that although the club had done nothing wrong in the Neymar Jr transfer, it has nonetheless been an embarrassing affair. The article gives a brief background to the unfolding drama, saying that ‘the club were formally accused of tax fraud in February, when a judge in Spain had ruled there was enough evidence to continue investigations into the transfer.’
Regarding the €13 million that Barça willingly paid in taxes as a ‘voluntary contribution’, Bartomeu said, “we paid because of prudence, because there is a possible different interpretation. So we want to be prudent. We don’t want to take any risks. Barça is a very well known brand name in the world and we have to take care of the club and doing this is prudent [for the] situation to keep the good image of our club. We don’t agree with the judge, of course. For us, this is an absurd and unfair situation because we did everything correctly in signing Neymar to FC Barcelona.”
After almost two years of nagging pain in his left knee, FC Barcelona forward player Isaac Cuenca (22) underwent surgery on May 31, 2012. He was then loaned to Ajax Amsterdam and played some minutes in early 2013. Now, in the last third of the current season, despite new problems including a torn hamstring, Cuenca believes that he is a completely new player. The forward who debuted in the dream team of Pep Guardiola is ready to prove that he has the talent and the capacity to join the first team. He recently spoke with Barcelona based daily Sport to share his dream of rebuilding his football career. We present a translation of this interesting interview after the jump.
ALEXIS: “YOU LOSE ONE DAY AND IT’S LIKE SOMEONE DIED.”
Mourner: “No one died…
“…but things are dying.”
INTENSITY / AMBITION / PRESSURE / HUNGER / PRIDE
Cartoon by Caye
In an interview with Manchester City’s web department, Manchester City’s coach, Manuel Pellegrini (60), said that he believes the Champions League tie against FC Barcelona is by no means over, as difficult as it may be. “I won with Villarreal at the Camp Nou, I tied there with Malaga,” said the Chilean manager. Manchester City recently lost to Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup quarterfinals, ending their hopes of a then-possible quadruple, while the Catalan club has also lost to Real Valladolid in La Liga after a disappointing performance. Continue reading for more from Pellegrini.
Spanish football columnist Sid Lowe has produced a wonderful article/interview with FC Barcelona’s best goalkeeper of all time, Víctor Valdés. Valdés is leaving in the summer, and for that, Barça will be a weaker side. But he’s been there a long time, been criminally under appreciated and has spoken several times about the immense pressure he has always felt between the blaugrana sticks. In this excellent Sid Lowe piece, we are afforded wonderful insight into Valdés’ thoughts and feelings.
FC Barcelona’s aspiring defender Marc Bartra sat for an interview with Catalan daily Ara, in which he underlined that despite poor results in last few weeks, the team works hard and is very concentrated. “I wish you could see the intensity of our training session, it’s spectacular, you can’t compare.” Speaking about the current squad and team rotation, Bartra underlined that “this season, with Martino we are 20 players with possibility of being in starting 11, you can’t acomodate everyone, we all 20 are in the game. There are games when I sit and wait on the bench in otheres I’m in starting 11, and we don’t know that until final hour before game.”
The UEFA assigned referee for Wednesday’s encounter versus Manchester City is Frenchman Stephane Lannoy. He has been a UEFA referee since 2006 and has overseen 59 European club games, 19 of those in the Champions League. Lannoy is quite experienced having worked his way up from the 2008 Olympics to being part of the latest two major international tournaments in 2010 and 2012.
Lannoy has refereed three Barça matches previously, and the Spanish club were victorious each time (3-1, Stuttgart 2007; 2-0, Copenhagen 2010; 1-0, Celtic 2013). He also oversaw Manchester City’s 2-0 win against Bayern Munich in 2011.
March 11, 2014
March 10, 2014