City Banking On Euro Miracle

Joe Hart. Image courtesy of ibtimes.co.uk
Joe Hart pulled off a wonder save to deny Messi from the spot. Image courtesy of ibtimes.co.uk


Barcelona v Manchester City


Camp Nou, Barcelona

Thursday March 19 –   5:45am (AEST)

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Manchester City have it all to do in the second-leg of their UCL knockout tie against Barcelona on Thursday (AEST).

It was a case of deja vu in last month’s first-leg failure at the Etihad. Just like when these sides clashed at the same stage of the tournament last season, Barcelona travelled to Manchester, nabbed two away goals and in turn took full command of the knockout tie. It could have been worse for the English champions too, however a late Sergio Aguero goal and some Joe Hart heroics ensured the Sky Blues remain a slim chance to progress into the quarter-finals. City possess the talent and class to overturn the aggregate score line, but if they put in a similar performance that saw them lose 1-0 to Burnley on the weekend, they can kiss the Champions League dreams goodbye. Manuel Pelligrini has a full-strength squad at his disposal, apart from defender Gabriel Clichy who is unavailable due to suspension.      

While manager Luis Enrique would have been content leaving Manchester with a 2-1 win, it could so easily have been wrapped up in the final minutes of that clash. When defender Pablo Zabaleta bundled Lionel Messi over in the box in the 93rd minute, the Argentinian had the chance to score a third from the spot and put the tie well out of reach for City. However, the four-time Ballon d’Or winner saw his penalty saved by Hart and couldn’t guide the follow up into a gaping open goal. That moment could come back to haunt the Barcelona striker, who is in incredible form domestically. Messi has scored nine goals in Barca’s past five La Liga matches, including two hat-tricks against Levante and Rayo Vallecano.

Barcelona are short-priced favourites to send City crashing out of the tournament, and the history books aren’t good reading if you’re a Sky Blues fan. The last time the Catalans failed to progress after winning the away first-leg of a UEFA competition tie was in 1984, coincidently against City’s cross-town rivals Manchester United.

 

 

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