Pellegrini: We’re in a better position to beat Barca
MANCHESTER City manager Manuel Pellegrini believes his team are in a better position to beat Barcelona than they were a year ago.
City take on the Catalan giants in the last 16 of the Champions League for a second season in succession.
The Premier League winners were beaten 4-1 on aggregate 12 months ago but, as they prepare for the opening leg of their latest contest at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday, Pellegrini is positive.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Pellegrini said: “I think that last year was different to this year.
“We arrived at this stage of the Champions League after playing 19 games in two months, and I don’t think it was our best moment.
“But I hope this year we will do it after not playing so many games. I think that our team is in a good moment, although we also recognise we are going to be playing against a very strong team.”City’s progress to the knockout stages this season – for only the second time – was far from straightforward.They collected just two points from their opening four group games and needed dramatic back-to-back wins over Bayern Munich and Roma to pull through against the odds.
Pellegrini hopes that experience will stand his team in good stead as they look to go further in the competition.
The Chilean, who has previously reached the last eight with Villarreal and Malaga, said: “We never thought we were out. We always had the trust to continue to fight to the end. When there is mathematically a chance, this team will always try to do it.
“We didn’t play well, especially here at home against Roma and CSKA Moscow, but our team demonstrated the personality and quality to qualify against Bayern and Roma.
“I think all those things are experience to try to improve this year in the Champions League.”
City won their last two group games without their key midfielder Yaya Toure, who was suspended after his sending off against CSKA Moscow in November.
The Ivoirien will again be missing this week as he completes his three-match ban but Pellegrini is confident his team will cope, even though Toure was badly missed domestically during the recent African Nations Cup.
Pellegrini said: “About Yaya, I always have the same answer. I always prefer to play with Yaya, he is a very important player and I think we play better with Yaya.
“But we can play without Yaya also, because we played without him against Roma and Bayern Munich, and I think we have a good squad to replace him.”
New signing Wilfried Bony will be in contention for his full City debut while midfielder James Milner has been passed fit after missing Saturday’s defeat of Newcastle with a knee problem.
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