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City v Barcelona: Connections and player links

The return of the UEFA Champions League is on the horizon and excitement is building for what promises to be another epic clash with FC Barcelona.

There are plenty of obvious connections between the two clubs, including players who have represented both sides like Yaya Toure, but we’ve dug a little deeper to find some more compelling links between the clubs.

Where will the tie be won and lost? See if our list of connections and historical precedents help you to decide.

Can Lionel Messi do it in England?

In short, yes…

Lionel Messi was arguably the difference between City and Barcelona when the sides met in February 2014, forcing the challenge from Martin Demichelis which won a penalty and saw the home team reduced to ten men.

He also scored a stunning goal at Wembley in the Champions League final against Manchester United in 2011.

However, to play devil's advocate, the free-scoring Argentine hasn’t quite had it all his own way when swapping Cataluña for English soil.

The four-time Ballon D’or winner has played in England on ten occasions and, in those appearances, his record reads: played 10, won 4, lost 4, drawn 2, scored 2, assisted 2.

Will Frank Lampard’s experience tell?

No City player has faced Barcelona in the Champions League on more occasions than Frank Lampard.

The former England international was on target three times for Chelsea in ten appearances against them and has mixed memories of these encounters.

Lampard’s Chelsea overcame the four-time winners in the 2004/05 round of 16 and in the semi-finals of 2011/12 but he was on the losing side in the 2008/09 semi-finals and the first knockout round in 2005/06.

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Messi: “Aguero is a born winner”

Sergio Aguero scored five times for Atletico Madrid in ten La Liga appearances against Barcelona – no wonder his international teammate Lionel Messi describes him as a “born winner”.

In Kun’s “Born to Rise” autobiography, Messi penned the foreword and recalled his first encounter with the striker who would go on to become his best friend.

“What can I say about Sergio back then...?” Messi scribed.

“That he was a real character, a really sound guy, capable of listening and then saying exactly the right thing to let you know he was there for you or, with perfect delivery, to make you burst out laughing.

“I know all about the respect he has for his roots and for his family. And about all the energy and effort that has gone into him accomplishing so much.”

Pellegrini’s score to settle

City boss Manuel Pellegrini spent nine seasons in La Liga, leading Villarreal, Real Madrid and Malaga with distinction.

During that period, the Chilean masterminded four victories over the Catalan giants, although he failed to pick up a point in the two “clasicos” during his tenure at Real Madrid.

His overall record from La Liga matches against Barcelona reads P22, W4, D4, L14.

That said, Manuel has an incredible record in the Champions League, defying expectations to guide Villarreal into the semi-finals of the competition in his second season (2005/06) and then taking unfancied Malaga to the quarters in 2012/13 where they were unfortunate to lose to eventual finalists Dortmund.

The Espanyol connection

Pablo Zabaleta is a City player who is hardly new to viewing FC Barcelona as a rival.

The Argentine full-back featured in four Barcelona derbies during his three-year spell at Espanyol but was never on the winning side.

He lost two of the four games and drew the others.

He was sent off in the Camp Nou in the second leg last season, so no-one will have more motivation to be on the winning side this time around than Pablo.

FIFA World Cup 2014

Any more wrongs to right? There’s a few from last summer’s World Cup in Brazil.

FC Barcelona’s marquee summer signing Luis Suarez put two goals past Joe Hart in Uruguay’s 2-1 win over England.

David Silva faced Barca ‘keeper Claudio Bravo when his Spain side (which also featured Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets and Iniesta) had their elimination sealed by a 2-0 defeat to Chile in the final group game.

Who ended Bravo’s World Cup adventure? Fernandinho’s Brazil.

We'll have more build-up to City v Barcelona right here on the official site every day until the sides meet a week on Tuesday.

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