Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta says ‘It will be difficult to overcome Manchester City’ in Champions League

Barcelona midfielder has been on the bench for four of the last eight matches, but he is a big-game player who is expected to start against Manchester City, reports Andy Mitten.

Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta said his teammates are not getting carried away after their earlier win over City. Albert Gea / Reuters
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Barcelona // Andres Iniesta shook his head when he was asked if his team would be satisfied with two draws in their home games against Manchester City on Wednesday night and on Sunday to Real Madrid.

The journalist asking the question in a packed media auditorium was making the point that two draws would be enough to see Barcelona progress to the Uefa Champions League quarter-final and maintain their lead at the top of the Primera Liga.

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“We play to win,” said the Barcelona midfielder. “Tonight and on Sunday. We will have to go out there and play in a very comprehensive manner.

“We need to have lots of ball possession so they suffer, so they have to follow the ball.

“Last year we were more or less in this situation” he said referring to his team beating City in Manchester before the return leg at Camp Nou. “We need to find those moments to be dangerous, we need to find our superior skills whenever possible. It is about minimising their potential.

“If we do not achieve these objectives, Manchester City can achieve their own objectives. We have to control what is going on at every different moment.”

A combination of flu, a calf injury and tactical decisions has meant that Iniesta, 30, has started just 13 of Barca’s 27 league games this season.

He has also been on the bench for four of the last eight matches, but he is a big-game player who is expected to start in a midfield trio which will be missing the injured Sergio Busquets. Javier Mascherano is likely to fill in for Busquets, with Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic or Xavi ahead of him.

Barca were excellent in the 2-1 victory in the first leg in Manchester two weeks ago, but Iniesta is not getting carried away.

“We had a good result in the first leg but this is the Champions League,” he said. “Manchester City have great players that are capable of turning the situation upside down.

“We have to focus on the match and do what we did in the first leg. Manchester City are a team that wants to be in the next round. We need to keep that clear in our minds.”

Asked why City have underachieved in the Champions League, Iniesta was diplomatic. “I’m not inside the camp to know exactly what is going on,” he said, “but it seems that they have a very good team, playing at a high level with top players in all positions.

“It will be difficult to overcome Manchester City. They are a very sound team.”

Barca knocked City out at the same stage last season and go into the match, which is expected to attract a crowd of over 80,000, as favourites.

Barca also have reached the Copa del Rey final, but Iniesta played down talk of a treble. “We don’t meet and talk about winning the treble. We know individually how we feel and what chances we have.

“We know we have a good chance to fight for every title until the end, but that’s no guarantee and we can’t get distracted thinking about that.”

But he knows his side are in their best form of the season at exactly the right time.

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