With Tuesday night being one of the most eagerly anticipated nights for football in the calendar year so far, Malaga were able to assist their old manager in dampening Barcelona’s spirit. The southern Spain club defeated the Catalan’s to undo their 11 game winning streak. Now Manuel Pellegrini’s new club are hoping to taking their winning form into the tie and advance into the Quarter finals of the Champions League.
Saturday afternoon’s defeat to Malaga meant that the Spanish giants missed out on the chance to move to the top of La Liga. The result may affect their chances of domestic success in the long run as the Madrid club’s continue to grow stronger.
In a stark contrast to the afternoon in Catalonia, Manchester City were dominant against a Toon Army who have been struggling since the start of the campaign. Newcastle United were under threats minutes into the game and Barcelona would have been taking notes on the dominance of the host’s. Trouncing the North East club 5-0, it was a remarkable victory considering that the final score was reached with 35 minutes left to play.
Yaya Toure has been prolific since coming back into the side. Without the former Barca star in the side, the club has struggled to win against mediocre sides. His inclusion after a successful AFCON campaign has helped stabilise the club into the best side in the Premier League. The club is in a fantastic position with limited injuries and new signing Wilfried Bony will be looking to score his first goals. The £28m transfer to City adds to the strike force after the departure of Jovetic from the Champions League squad. Financial Fair Play has clearly drained the side as they can only have 21 players for the tournament.
James Milner is the Blues only doubt for Tuesday’s game after a knee injury that ruled him out of the club’s tie against Newcastle United over the weekend. Both clubs have no real injury threats to worry about which will make for an extremely competitive tie. With Kompany, Aguero, Silva and Toure fully fit, City could cause real problems to the Spaniards with such a creative midfield.
Pellegrini’s side will be sure to take their positive morale into the match after a turnaround cured the club’s January blues. It is still debatable whether the club has the depth to put up a strong Premier League title defence. With the characters in the side’s dressing form and desire for success in Europe, they will be pushing Barcelona to the best of their ability.