Joe Hart will return in goal to replace Costel Pantilimon, whilst Martin Demichelis and Aleks Kolarov are expected to join Pablo Zabaleta and Vincent Kompany in the back four. I’d prefer to see Joleon Lescott and Gael Clichy retain their places after we looked so solid during the victory over Chelsea, but Manuel Pellegrini favours Demichelis’s reading of the game and Champions League experiences, whilst Kolarov’s threatening delivery into the box creates chances. On the flip side, however, is his shaky defending which Dani Alves will no doubt relish exploiting.
Fernandinho will surely play, even if selecting him after his lengthy injury lay-off will be a gamble, but his energetic qualities are necessary if we are to upset Barcelona’s rhythm. Javi Garcia was much improved at the weekend and I’d be tempted to start him alongside the Brazilian, with Yaya Touré pushed forward into his more advanced role, but I suspect Pellegrini will include an extra attacking option, likely to be Samir Nasri, behind Alvaro Negredo.
Here is the side Pellegrini could select:
Referee: Jonas Eriksson.
Prediction: MAN CITY 2 – 2 Barcelona – It’s a mightily difficult task to predict the outcome of this encounter. Both sides are awash with thrilling attacking talents and there are likely to be plenty of chances created. Should Barcelona manage to get themselves on the scoresheet, they will be delighted with the benefit away goals bring, but from a City perspective, restricting the Spaniards is essential. I’m predicting goals from Alvaro Negredo, Samir Nasri and a brace from Lionel Messi.