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City v Barcelona: Team news and tactics

ZABA KEEPY UPPY: Pablo tries to keep the ball up during training.

ZABA KEEPY UPPY: Pablo tries to keep the ball up during training.

How the teams line up and what we can expect...

Is this the biggest match of Pep Guardiola's short time in charge at City? Having dropped points in their last two Champions League games, City need a positive result against Barcelona at the Etihad tonight. 

And Guardiola has picked a string lineup for the occasion. 

Starting XI: Caballero, Zabaleta, Stones, Otamendi, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Gundogan, Silva, Sterling, Aguero, De Bruyne

Subs: Gunn, Nolito, Navas, Clichy, Kompany, Kelechi, Fernando

Zabaleta starts

He suffered a foot injury in the first game between the two sides a fortnight ago – but Pablo Zabaleta has made a swift recovery and takes his place in the back four tonight.

Guardiola suggested yesterday he wouldn’t be fit but having trained with the first team in the afternoon and suffering no adverse reaction to his recent setback, he comes in and replaces Fernando, who operated at right-back for the first time at the weekend against West Brom.

It’s a huge boost to have him available.

John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi have been paired together at centre-half, with Vincent Kompany, who is continuing to recover from a series of muscle injuries in the past two seasons, taking his place on the bench.

Aguero chases more records 

Having missed the game between the two sides at the Camp Nou a fortnight ago, Sergio Aguero starts this evening, much to the delight of the City fans.

Luis Enrique and Ivan Rakitic both praised the Blues striker in their press conferences yesterday, describing him as one of Europe’s finest out-and-out strikers - and his pace and movement is likely to cause the Barcelona defence a headache.

After his two goals at the weekend against West Brom, he now sits sixth on City’s list of all-time leading goalscorers with 149.

Can he bag his 150th against the best side in Europe?

Willy in goal

Claudio Bravo’s red card in the game in Barcelona means he is suspended for this evening’s game, leaving Willy Caballero to deputise.

There’s no harder task in world football than stopping Barcelona’s forwards. Caballero will need to be at his very best.

MSN

Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar…has there ever been a better front three?

It has a bit of everything: skill, trickery, pace, directness and goals.

It’s a pleasure to welcome a side possessing this much quality to the Etihad Stadium on such an important night for the club. 

First Team News

From Cruyff to Pep: Guardiola's turning point

MEETING OF MINDS: Pep Guardiola has studied and built on Johan Cruyff's management style

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, Barcelona and Johan Cruyff have a rich, intertwined history. Ahead of the City v Barca UCL game, discover how the City manager's football philosophy was formed and fired in our long read by Club journalist Rob Pollard...

Pep Guardiola began his time at Barcelona aged 13. Part of the club’s academy structure, he was a ballboy as a 14-year-old when Terry Venalables was in charge at the Camp Nou.

What the Media Says

Aguero & Silva: Blues on right track in Europe

BLUES BROTHERS: Aguero and Silva expect City to mount a challenge in Europe.

On the morning of an important Champions League clash with Barcelona, the positivity of two of City’s most influential operators is a welcome read over your morning coffee.

Both Sergio Aguero and David Silva have spoken to the media ahead of tonight’s fixture with the duo telling various news outlets that the Blues are on the right path for European success.

First Team News

Enrique: Man City will flourish under Guardiola

PRAISE: Luis Enrique is a huge fan of Guardiola

Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has praised the impact Pep Guardiola has had at City since taking over in July – and insists the best is yet to come.

Barcelona manager Luis Enrique believes Guardiola has had impact on City already