Champions League Picks: Barcelona vs Manchester City
All good teams go through their rough patches. What is troubling for Man City is that their rough patch coincides with some fairly big fixtures. Wednesday they have to visit the Camp Nou and face group C leaders Barcelona. Winless now in 3 games, if they lose midweek Man City will be 5 points behind Luis Enrique's men.
Barcelona vs Man City odds on William Hill
After Barcelona had their own rough patch early in the season, this last 2 weeks went perfectly. Not only did everyone who left on International duty return fully fit, but they got to wrap Lionel Messi in cotton so he could be ready for this game.
Barcelona vs Manchester City Prediction
Pep is trying to build Barcelona 2.0 at Man City. This Wednesday he faces the original version.
BET BARCELONA @-175 AT WILLIAM HILL. There are certain things that Manchester City are not built to do. One of them is defending for long periods. However, that is precisely the task that they face when they come up against a fully fit Barcelona side. Manchester City have shown a tendency to concede goals even when their opponents have 1/3 of the ball. When they met Tottenham two weeks ago, they were ripped to shreds by a team that presses intelligently and passes precisely. A few days earlier Celtic FC drew them in a 3-3 slugfest in Celtic; the same Celtic that Barcelona dusted 7-0.
Rather than adapt to the different challenges that Celtic and Tottenham posed, Pep kept his tactics the same. Perhaps that's the right approach at home, but you can't expect to have the majority of possession against Barcelona, not in their arena. It just doesn't happen. He has a great team that can grow into something unique. But Barcelona are the unique entity already; a team with a high football IQ accompanied by 3 of the world's best players.
Historically, the blueprint to beat Barcelona is to have the will power to defend for a full 90 minutes and not get discouraged even if you can't touch the ball for what can be minutes at a time. Does that sound like Man City?
Even if Pep changed him team and style to defend for the majority of the match what previous evidence is there to suggest that this could work?
Pep's last visit to the Camp Nou...
Was with Bayern Munich in the Champions League Semifinal in May of 2015. After keeping them off the scoreboard for the first 75 minutes, Barcelona wore down the Bayern back line and exploded for 3 late goals. The craziest thing about that game was that Pep decided to man mark the front three of Messi, Suarez and Neymar. The back line of Boateng, Benatia and Rafinha were literally shadowing MSN for the majority of the first half, until it became clear that this was suicidal.
But Pep understood the desperation of the situation even if he didn't have the pieces to address the problem. It is a reality that he will realize once again in a few days. His Bayern Munich side were a lot better equipped to deal with this threat than his current Man City side is. Other than Vincent Kompany who just returned from injury, you can't label any of their defenders world class. The likes of Aguero, David Silva, and Fernandinho have all had to face Barcelona in the Champions League and never had a chance.
Now Claudio Bravo gets to see life from the other side as well. Man City's one ace up their sleeve may be that no player will know the shooting tendencies of Barcelona better than their ex net minder. But even that doesn't appear to be enough.
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