David Villa believes his former side Barcelona will face a tough task when they face Manchester City in the Champions League last 16.
The two sides go head-to-head for the second year in a row at this stage, and City will be looking for revenge after the 4-1 aggregate defeat to Barcelona last season.
Villa, who scored 41 goals for Barcelona between 2010 and 2013, believes the tie will be a lot closer this time around after City struggled to cope with Barcelona’s dominance on the ball last season. The former Spain international told Manchester City’s official website: “I think it is a very close tie.”
Villa called the two sides “two of the best clubs in the world”. City are new to Europe’s top table, appearing for the first time in the Champions League in 2011, while opponents Barcelona are steeped in history, having won the European Cup four times.
If the English champions are to progress past Barca, it would be the first time they have been to the quarter-finals of the Champions League. That is a feat that the club’s board will be hoping for soon.
City’s owners have invested heavily in their squad in recent seasons, paying the price under the Financial Fair Play rules, in order to compete with Europe’s big clubs. City may have the financial clout to compete in Europe but their results on the pitch have been disappointing.
Manuel Pellegrini paid around £28million for striker Wilfried Bony in the January transfer market and the City boss will be hoping the Ivorian, fresh from the Africa Cup of Nations triumph, can spearhead the attack to European success.
The first leg of the last-16 tie is to be played at the Etihad Stadium on February 24 with the return leg at the Camp Nou on March 18.
At the time of writing, Barcelona were in the region of 21/20 to beat City. That suggest City have their work cut out in a similar scenario to their hopes of retaining their Premier League crown (7/1). It will be worth keeping an eye on for betting news and tips with blue square.
Lionel Messi got a goal in each of the games last season and the Argentinian has 37 goals in 33 games so far this season.
But Pellegrini will hope his new signing Bony can score the goals to take his side through, with the striker is 3.00 to score his first Champions League goal for City next week.