Man City face uphill task in Barcelona

18 March, 2015

Manchester City face an uphill task as they face off against Barcelona in the second leg of the last-16 of the Champions League this evening (March 18th).

Manuel Pellegrini's men are looking to overturn a 2-1 deficit from the first leg where a Luis Suarez-inspired Barcelona cruised to victory. The task at the Nou Camp could have been made much difficult had Joe Hart not saved a last-minute Lionel Messi at the Etihad Stadium in late February.

City will be boosted by the return of talismanic midfielder Yaya Toure who has not featured in the past three European matches after being sent off against CSKA Moscow. However, they will be without left-back Gael Clichy who was dismissed for two bookable offences in the first leg against Barcelona. As for the Catalans, midfielder Sergio Busquets has been ruled out through injury.

Pellegrini will be looking for a response from his team who lost so meekly against relegation-threatened Burnley at the weekend. The 1-0 loss at Turf Moor put them further behind leaders Chelsea and has put the Chilean's future as manager into doubt. However, Pellegrini was in defiant mood in his pre-match press conference.

He told reporters: "I don't think my seat is in danger. We're second in the table, still strong and are going to fight."

His sentiments were echoed by Toure: "I think football is like that. Last year was brilliant, everyone was saying Manchester City are a top team in Europe, but all of a sudden we have some problems and we're the worst team in the world. We can deal with that."

City head to the Nou Camp knowing they will need to score twice to give them a hope of qualifying for the quarter-finals. The club has never made it to the last-eight of the competition in their history but will draw on inspiration of the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool who have won at the home of the former European champions in recent years.

Barcelona are currently on a five-game winning streak in all competitions. They cruised through their last La Liga fixture thanks to two goals from Messi. Their last outing at home saw them thrash Rayo Vallecano 6-1. City will be hoping that the Catalan giants will have one eye on the huge El Clasico game against Real Madrid on Sunday (March 22nd).

Manager Luis Enrique insisted Barcelona will be fully focused on tonight's game and said: "There is only one game for us, which is the one we're playing tomorrow. I don't care about the rest, I'm not interested."

Man City looking for back-to-back wins at Burnley

13 March, 2015

Manchester City are looking for back-to-back Premier League wins as they travel to Burnley on Saturday (March 14th) evening.
The Sky Blues suffered somewhat of a blip in recent weeks with consecutive defeats to Barcelona in the Champions League and Liverpool in the league. It has meant their domestic and European campaigns both hang in the balance. A routine win over Leicester City earlier in the month was much needed as they enter the business end of the season.
They take on a Burnley side who are battling relegation and are currently three points away from safety. City face a run of fixtures in the league which sees them pitted against sides in the bottom half; following Burnley they play West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace before the Manchester derby on April 12th.
City boss Manuel Pellegrini will be earmarking these fixtures to help make up ground on leaders Chelsea. However, he will be wary of the threat posed by Sean Dyche's Burnley and will know that the Clarets will not be an easy touch.
Pellegrini and City witnessed the resilience of Burnley shortly after Christmas when Dyche's overturned a two-goal deficit to claim a 2-2 draw at the Etihad. Another slip-up of this kind could see City kiss goodbye to their hopes of retaining the Premier League crown, especially with Chelsea now dumped out of the Champions League.
The main question for the Chilean is whether to rest key players for the Burnley clash with the second leg of the Champions League last-16 tie against Barcelona looming large. The champions head to Catalonia on Wednesday with a 2-1 deficit to overturn and Pellegrini could see this as a huge opportunity to progress to the quarter-finals for the first time in the club's history.
City have a clean bill of health going into the Burnley game and it will be interesting to see whether Pellegrini keeps captain Vincent Kompany on the bench following a series of high-profile errors in recent games.
The Sky Blues have a strong record at Turf Moor and have not lost there since 1974. Their last visit in April 2010 saw Roberto Mancini's City blow away Burnley in a ruthless first half display.
The visitors were 3-0 up within seven minutes thanks to goals from Emmanuel Adebayor, Craig Bellamy and Carlos Tevez. Patrick Vieira made it 4-0 after 20 minutes with Adebayor claiming a second and City's fifth on the stroke of half time. A further goal from Kompany and then a consolation from then Burnley frontman Steven Fletcher saw the game end 6-1 to City.

Man City looking for back-to-back wins at Burnley

13 March, 2015

Manchester City are looking for back-to-back Premier League wins as they travel to Burnley on Saturday (March 14th) evening.

The Sky Blues suffered somewhat of a blip in recent weeks with consecutive defeats to Barcelona in the Champions League and Liverpool in the league. It has meant their domestic and European campaigns both hang in the balance. A routine win over Leicester City earlier in the month was much needed as they enter the business end of the season.

They take on a Burnley side who are battling relegation and are currently three points away from safety. City face a run of fixtures in the league which sees them pitted against sides in the bottom half; following Burnley they play West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace before the Manchester derby on April 12th.

City boss Manuel Pellegrini will be earmarking these fixtures to help make up ground on leaders Chelsea. However, he will be wary of the threat posed by Sean Dyche's Burnley and will know that the Clarets will not be an easy touch.

Pellegrini and City witnessed the resilience of Burnley shortly after Christmas when Dyche's overturned a two-goal deficit to claim a 2-2 draw at the Etihad. Another slip-up of this kind could see City kiss goodbye to their hopes of retaining the Premier League crown, especially with Chelsea now dumped out of the Champions League.

The main question for the Chilean is whether to rest key players for the Burnley clash with the second leg of the Champions League last-16 tie against Barcelona looming large. The champions head to Catalonia on Wednesday with a 2-1 deficit to overturn and Pellegrini could see this as a huge opportunity to progress to the quarter-finals for the first time in the club's history.

City have a clean bill of health going into the Burnley game and it will be interesting to see whether Pellegrini keeps captain Vincent Kompany on the bench following a series of high-profile errors in recent games.

The Sky Blues have a strong record at Turf Moor and have not lost there since 1974. Their last visit in April 2010 saw Roberto Mancini's City blow away Burnley in a ruthless first half display.

The visitors were 3-0 up within seven minutes thanks to goals from Emmanuel Adebayor, Craig Bellamy and Carlos Tevez. Patrick Vieira made it 4-0 after 20 minutes with Adebayor claiming a second and City's fifth on the stroke of half time. A further goal from Kompany and then a consolation from then Burnley frontman Steven Fletcher saw the game end 6-1 to City.

5 games to shape Man City's season

9 March, 2015

Five points behind leaders Chelsea and 2-1 down to Barcelona in the Champions League, Manchester City's quest for silverware this season could be fruitless.

Patchy form, underperforming stars and the relentlessness of rivals has seen the defending champions slip and they need to step up if they are to look back on 2014/15 with pride. However, this is a club that do not do things the easy way.

Remember they trailed Liverpool with six games remaining last season and won the title on the last day. Manager Manuel Pellegrini knows it is a difficult task but one that his side are more than capable of achieving. They will need a little luck along the way but it certainly is possible.

Here are the five games that could shape their season.

Barcelona (A) - March 18th

City were given a footballing masterclass when Barcelona arrived at the Etihad Stadium in late February. Two goals from former Liverpool man Luis Suarez gave the Catalans a commanding 2-0 lead before half time. With Lionel Messi pulling the strings, City had little response to former European champions.

However, a goal from Sergio Aguero and a late penalty save from Messi by Joe Hart has given City hope. They travel to the Nou Camp knowing they will need to score at least twice to reach the quarter finals. It is a return to a venue which saw them eliminated so meekly at the same stage last season.

Pellegrini will want a much better response this time around and will take inspiration from the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool who have been successful at the Nou Camp in recent years. Barcelona are currently on a four-match winning run but recently suffered a shock 1-0 home defeat to Malaga.

Manchester United (A) - April 12th

Manchester derbies are always special affairs but this April showdown could go a long way to deciding the title. With Chelsea facing Queens Park Rangers earlier in the day, City will know how much is riding on a victory over their closest rivals.

The reverse fixture was an extremely tepid encounter with City breezing through 1-0 against a hugely disappointing United side. This time around Louis van Gaal will have the Red Devils charged up. Despite not playing scintillating football, United are in good form and will pose a stern test for their title-challenging neighbours.

City will be buoyed by their recent good form against United. The Sky Blues have won the last four meetings in the league and have not tasted defeat since a last minute free-kick from Robin van Persie gave United a 3-2 victory at the Etihad in December 2012. City have not lost at Old Trafford since February 2011, winning the last three.

Maintaining this hoodoo will be integral for their title chances.

Aston Villa (H) - April 25th

One of City's issues this year has been failing to beat the so-called 'lesser' sides at home. Draws against Burnley and Hull not to mention a defeat to Stoke have been hugely damaging so it is important they claim three points against Aston Villa.

It is a poignant moment in the season, Chelsea are facing Arsenal at the Emirates on the same day after facing Man United a week earlier. By contrast City have West Ham and Villa at home, two games which Pellegrini will be highlighting as winnable. Victory against these two and any form of slip-up by Chelsea and City will be back within striking distance.

Villa will be no pushovers and have a relegation fight on their hands, not to mention being reinvigorated by new manager Tim Sherwood.

Tottenham Hotspur (A) - May 2nd

A trip to White Hart Lane will be a stern test of City's title credentials. A painful 3-1 defeat here in 2013 effectively handed the title to Man United and City will be desperate to ensure that lightning does not strike twice.

With Chelsea playing Crystal Palace at home, it is key that City do not slip up. Tottenham will be chasing a Champions League spot and in Harry Kane they have a striker in the form of his life. However, White Hart Lane does provide some happy memories for the travelling City contingent.

In two of the last three visits, City have scored five and a repeat would go some way to ramping up the pressure on Jose Mourinho's Chelsea.

Swansea City (A) - May 16th

City's final away trip of the season could not be trickier. Swansea have a habit of threatening to derail a team's title challenge. Man United came unstuck at the Liberty Stadium earlier in the season when they lost 2-1 and City will be fools to take this game lightly. City themselves lost 1-0 in 2012 as they went for their first Premier League crown.

With Gary Monk's side comfortably safe from relegation, the Swansea players could see the game as a dead rubber but it could prove pivotal for City.

Chelsea face a difficult away trip to West Bromwich Albion, who will be scrapping against relegation, on the same weekend. Should City manage to win and the Blues slip up, they could go into the final game against Southampton with their fate in their own hands.

If successful, City could become only the third side to successfully defend their title in the Premier League era.

Manchester City promotional competition: WIN a signed shirt!

26 February, 2015

WIN A SIGNED SHIRT

 

Enter the competition now by booking an Official Travel Package to any of the Barclays Premier League matches and be in with a chance to win this ultimate fan prize!
Closing date for entries is Friday 08 April 2015 midnight (GMT).

 

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Manchester City's Champions League history

24 February, 2015

Manchester City competing in the Champions League seems a pretty common sight nowadays.

The likes of Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure and David Silva pulled on the sky blue jersey and pitted their wits against the best Europe has to offer seems like the norm. However, this has been far from the case as prior to 2011, City had not featured in the elite competition since being knocked out of the European Cup by Fenerbahce in 1968.

City made their debut in the Champions League in 2011 after a third-place finished in the 2010/11 season. So, as they gear up for a last-16 showdown with Spanish giants Barcelona, we look back at City's foray in Europe's elite football competition.

2011/12 season

Fresh from an FA Cup victory, their first trophy in 35 years, City entered their first-ever Champions League campaign full of confidence. Signings such as Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy had given Roberto Mancini's men genuine title aspirations as well as making an impression in Europe.

Dealt a group of Bayern Munich, Napoli and Villarreal it provided City with an opportunity to make a mark on the competition. However, it started in a somewhat disappointing fashion with a 1-1 draw at home to the Italians and a 2-0 defeat to Bayern in the Allianz Arena.

The game in Bavaria will forever be remembered for the spat between Mancini and striker Carlos Tevez. With City trailing 2-0, substitute Tevez appeared to refuse Mancini's request to warm-up. The incident prompted the Italian manager to claim the striker was "out" of his team for the foreseeable future.

A crunch game at home to Villarreal was won thanks to a 93rd goal from Aguero, while a 3-0 victory in Spain gave City a hope of qualification. However, a damaging defeat to Napoli in Naples left the team with an uphill task. Despite a 2-0 win over Bayern, Napoli had won in Villarreal to send City out.

Their European campaign ended with an aggregate defeat to Sporting Lisbon in the last-16 of the Europa League.

2012/13 season

City entered the 2012/13 Champions League campaign as Premier League champions but hugely underperformed in Europe. Drawn against tough opposition such as Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax, things simply went from bad to worse in a disastrous campaign.

A narrow 3-2 defeat to Jose Mourinho's Real at the Bernabeu set the tone for City's group stage. Despite being 2-1 ahead with five minutes remaining, goals from Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo gave Real the win.

A man of the match performance from goalkeeper Joe Hart was needed to keep Dortmund to just 1-0 ahead at the Etihad and a penalty from Mario Balotelli gave City a hugely undeserved point. Jurgen Klopp's men were the surprise package of the group, topping the group undefeated on 14 points. They would go on to lose to Bayern Munich in the final.

For City, the back-to-back games against Ajax were meant to get their campaign back on track but a 3-1 defeat in Amsterdam and a 2-2 draw at the Etihad effectively put them out. A 1-1 stalemate against Real confirmed it and a 1-0 defeat in Dortmund rounded off a thoroughly miserable campaign.

2013/14 season

Chilean Manuel Pellegrini was in the City hot seat for the 2013/14 Champions League campaign. The group pitted City against Bayern once again as well as the Czech Republic's Viktoria Plzen and Russia's CSKA Moscow.

It was a much better performance from City this time round as they breezed through the group with one defeat to table toppers Bayern at the Etihad. However, they could have topped Group D had Pellegrini's maths been a bit better.

In the final game they found themselves 2-0 down at the Allianz but goals from David Silva, Aleksander Kolarov and James Milner had turned the game around with half an hour to go. What Pellegrini seemed to not realise was that a 4-2 victory would give them top spot and he opted against putting sub Sergio Aguero on in favour of defensive midfielder Jack Rodwell.

The decision they may have regretted once City drew Barcelona in the last-16. A 2-0 win in Manchester and a 2-1 victory at the Nou Camp, while all the goals coming from Lionel Messi and Dani Alves gave Barcelona a 4-1 aggregate win over a fairly meek City side.

Man City renew old rivalries against Barcelona

24 February, 2015

Manchester City welcome Barcelona to the Etihad Stadium tonight (February 24th) aiming to banish the memories of last season's Champions League exit.
The Catalans brushed aside City in the last-16 last February with a comfortable 4-1 aggregate win over the English champions. The Sky Blues are yet to make the quarter finals of the Champions League in three attempts while their opponents are looking to make an eighth-straight last-eight.
Barcelona's visit to the Etihad sees the return of Luis Suarez who has not played on English soil since swapping Liverpool for Catalonia in the summer. The Uruguayan is part of a formidable front three alongside Brazilian Neymar and, of course, Barca's talisman Lionel Messi. Barcelona boss Luis Enrique is only without long-term absentees Douglas and Thomas Vermaelen.
For City manager Manuel Pellegrini, he needs to find a way through the former European champions without Yaya Toure. The Ivorian is still suspended after being dismissed during the group stage defeat against CSKA Moscow. He is able to call on the services of James Milner who has recovered from injury while new signing Wilfried Bony could make his first start for the club.
City's record in the Champions League is disappointing. Their first two campaigns ended in elimination in the group stages while last season they were outplayed by Barcelona both home and away. However, striker Sergio Aguero believes that they have a good a chance as any to progress.
Speaking to the club's official website, Aguero said: "This is a new game and we're not the same as we were last season and they aren't, either.
"Both teams have had reinforcements that have improved the squad so we'll have to see what kind of game it is, but one thing I think I can say with confidence is that they are both going to be great games."
Prior to a shock 1-0 home defeat to Malaga on Saturday, Barcelona had been in formidable form winning their past 11 games. City themselves have picked up from their recent blip and demolished Newcastle 5-0 at the weekend. Pellegrini will be wanting to continue this level of performance into the Champions League game.
City's record against Spanish opponents is pretty poor with only three wins in 11 matches. The club's recent duals against Iberian teams has seen them lose and draw with Real Madrid while beat Villarreal home and away.

Man City renew old rivalries against Barcelona

24 February, 2015

Manchester City welcome Barcelona to the Etihad Stadium tonight (February 24th) aiming to banish the memories of last season's Champions League exit.

The Catalans brushed aside City in the last-16 last February with a comfortable 4-1 aggregate win over the English champions. The Sky Blues are yet to make the quarter finals of the Champions League in three attempts while their opponents are looking to make an eighth-straight last-eight.

Barcelona's visit to the Etihad sees the return of Luis Suarez who has not played on English soil since swapping Liverpool for Catalonia in the summer. The Uruguayan is part of a formidable front three alongside Brazilian Neymar and, of course, Barca's talisman Lionel Messi. Barcelona boss Luis Enrique is only without long-term absentees Douglas and Thomas Vermaelen.

For City manager Manuel Pellegrini, he needs to find a way through the former European champions without Yaya Toure. The Ivorian is still suspended after being dismissed during the group stage defeat against CSKA Moscow. He is able to call on the services of James Milner who has recovered from injury while new signing Wilfried Bony could make his first start for the club.

City's record in the Champions League is disappointing. Their first two campaigns ended in elimination in the group stages while last season they were outplayed by Barcelona both home and away. However, striker Sergio Aguero believes that they have a good a chance as any to progress.

Speaking to the club's official website, Aguero said: "This is a new game and we're not the same as we were last season and they aren't, either.

"Both teams have had reinforcements that have improved the squad so we'll have to see what kind of game it is, but one thing I think I can say with confidence is that they are both going to be great games."

Prior to a shock 1-0 home defeat to Malaga on Saturday, Barcelona had been in formidable form winning their past 11 games. City themselves have picked up from their recent blip and demolished Newcastle 5-0 at the weekend. Pellegrini will be wanting to continue this level of performance into the Champions League game.

City's record against Spanish opponents is pretty poor with only three wins in 11 matches. The club's recent duals against Iberian teams has seen them lose and draw with Real Madrid while beat Villarreal home and away.

Man City out for revenge against Newcastle

20 February, 2015

Friday, February 20, 2015

Manchester City return to Premier League action on Saturday (February 21st) with revenge on the mind.
Manuel Pellegrini's men welcome Newcastle to the Etihad Stadium where they will be looking to avenge their Capital One Cup exit earlier in the season. City were unceremoniously dumped out of the League Cup by Alan Pardew's side in October thanks to goals from Rolando Aarons and Moussa Sissoko.
The victory was Newcastle's first at the Etihad in 12 attempts but when the sides meet on Saturday much will have changed. For the visitors, Pardew's reign came to an end in January when he swapped Tyneside for south London to take over at Crystal Palace. He has been replaced by former assistant John Carver, who has been given the job until the end of the season.
For City, their stuttering league form has seen them fall seven points behind leaders Chelsea. They were humiliated in the FA Cup when Championship side Middlesbrough came away with a 2-0 victory but they managed to qualify for the knockout phase of the Champions League and face Barcelona in the coming days.
It will be interesting to see whether Pellegrini decides to rest key players ahead of the first leg showdown with the Catalan giants, especially considering the way City were knocked out by the former European champions last year.
City will be boosted by the return of midfielder Yaya Toure who recently lifted the African Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast. Pellegrini will also finally be able to call upon the services of new signing Wilfried Bony, who has also been representing the Ivorians in Equatorial Guinea. This combined with a clean bill of health means Pellegrini will have a full strength squad to choose from.
The reigning champions looked to back to their best in their last outing as they breezed past a stubborn Stoke City side at the Britannia Stadium. Two goals from Sergio Aguero and one each from James Milner and Samir Nasri gave City a comfortable 4-1 victory.
If City are to close the gap on Chelsea they need to arrest their poor home form. The Sky Blues have not won at the Etihad in the league since New Year's Day when they only edged past Sunderland 3-2. Since then they have squeezed past Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup  and lost to Arsenal and Middlesbrough. Only a last-minute Milner free-kick prevented another defeat in the league to Hull.
A further slip up on Saturday could prove hugely costly for City's title aspirations.

Man City out for revenge against Newcastle

20 February, 2015

Manchester City return to Premier League action on Saturday (February 21st) with revenge on the mind.

Manuel Pellegrini's men welcome Newcastle to the Etihad Stadium where they will be looking to avenge their Capital One Cup exit earlier in the season. City were unceremoniously dumped out of the League Cup by Alan Pardew's side in October thanks to goals from Rolando Aarons and Moussa Sissoko.

The victory was Newcastle's first at the Etihad in 12 attempts but when the sides meet on Saturday much will have changed. For the visitors, Pardew's reign came to an end in January when he swapped Tyneside for south London to take over at Crystal Palace. He has been replaced by former assistant John Carver, who has been given the job until the end of the season.

For City, their stuttering league form has seen them fall seven points behind leaders Chelsea. They were humiliated in the FA Cup when Championship side Middlesbrough came away with a 2-0 victory but they managed to qualify for the knockout phase of the Champions League and face Barcelona in the coming days.

It will be interesting to see whether Pellegrini decides to rest key players ahead of the first leg showdown with the Catalan giants, especially considering the way City were knocked out by the former European champions last year.

City will be boosted by the return of midfielder Yaya Toure who recently lifted the African Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast. Pellegrini will also finally be able to call upon the services of new signing Wilfried Bony, who has also been representing the Ivorians in Equatorial Guinea. This combined with a clean bill of health means Pellegrini will have a full strength squad to choose from.

The reigning champions looked to back to their best in their last outing as they breezed past a stubborn Stoke City side at the Britannia Stadium. Two goals from Sergio Aguero and one each from James Milner and Samir Nasri gave City a comfortable 4-1 victory.

If City are to close the gap on Chelsea they need to arrest their poor home form. The Sky Blues have not won at the Etihad in the league since New Year's Day when they only edged past Sunderland 3-2. Since then they have squeezed past Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup  and lost to Arsenal and Middlesbrough. Only a last-minute Milner free-kick prevented another defeat in the league to Hull.

A further slip up on Saturday could prove hugely costly for City's title aspirations.

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