Barcelona must put last season’s comfortable Champions League win over Manchester City out of their minds when they take on the Premier League side in the last 16 of the latest edition on Tuesday, according to coach Luis Enrique.
Barca had little trouble getting past City at the same stage in 2013-14, winning 2-0 in Manchester and 2-1 in the return at the Nou Camp before falling to La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals. “We must not think about what happened last season but focus on putting on a good performance,” Luis Enrique told a news conference at the Etihad Stadium on Monday. “Tomorrow we will see if the difference between the sides has grown or shrunk, we will see on the pitch,” he added.
“The match will depend on where the spaces are, if we can have the ball. The centre of the pitch will be key.” Barca, the 2009 and 2011 winners, are through to the last 16 of Europe’s elite club competition for the 11th season in a row, while City are appearing there for only the second time. The Catalan giants are looking to bounce back after a surprise 1-0 reverse at home to Malaga in La Liga on Sunday which ended an 11-match winning streak in all competitions and left them four points behind leaders Real Madrid.
“It is good for us to compete three days after a defeat and all the more so in a place like this,” Luis Enrique told reporters. “It is very motivating.” Barca centre back Gerard Pique said he expected a similar match on Tuesday to last season’s first leg in Manchester, when a Lionel Messi penalty and a Dani Alves goal secured a 2-0 win.
“We are two teams who like to attack and have the ball,” Pique told Monday’s news conference. “We will try to exploit the space that opens up when they attack us,” added the Spain international. “It is easier to attack when there is space than when there is not.”
Pique spent four years at Manchester United between 2004 and 2008, making 23 appearances but never facing City. (Writing by Iain Rogers, editing by Justin Palmer)Afghan chief executive backs Taliban peace effort “in coming days”.