It promises to be another tough night for Pellegrini’s men
In the grand scheme of things, Lionel Messi’s penalty miss in the last minute at the Etihad two weeks ago was probably no more than a temporary reprieve for Manchester City as it would be a shock of seismic proportions should the English side turn a one-goal deficit on its head at the Nou Camp.
Premier League teams have a spectacularly bad record in Catalunya. Barcelona have lost just once at home to an English side in 28 matches and the current domestic champions are in no state to improve that abysmal record.
Joe Hart kept his team in it at the Etihad but couldn’t prevent City slipping to a third defeat in four matches at struggling Burnley on Saturday.
They can more or less wave goodbye to their title now and will have to be watchful that they don’t get swallowed up by the chasing pack, which has closed noticeably over the last few weeks.
It’s difficult to nail down what is exactly going wrong at City. The signing of Wilfiried Bony should have given them the impetus to challenge Chelsea and make a decent fist of a last eight place in the Champions League but the Ivorian has yet to find the net since his big-money move from Swansea and has been mostly warming the bench since returning from the Africa Cup Of Nations.
That tournament also took its toll of Yaya Toure but the latter did miss the first leg against Barca through suspension and is now available, though Gael Clichy is suspended.
You do get worried when you read comments like that of David Silva, in which he says that City have nothing to lose in the Nou Camp. It gives the impression that the players have more or less given up the tie and that could result in a very uncomfortable night if the likes of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar sense that their opponents won’t be up for the night.
The one saving grace is that Luis Enriquez’ team have a potentially pivotal El Classico at the weekend so might not be playing with the choke fully out and will also probably be without Martin Montoya and Sergio Busquets.
Barca are hardly worth backing at 4/11 but we have them priced up to score exactly two goals at 47/20. City have had a player sent off in their last three matches against Barcelona and there are a few with short fuses in their camp. Pellegrini’s side are 17/5 to end up a man short again.
The match kicks off at 7.45pm on Wednesday, March 18 at the Nou Camp.