r Saturday’s win against Newcastle, City manager Roberto Mancini insisted his side were ready to be compared to Barcelona. City A.M. assesses the evidence from last night and beyond.
City top the Premier League and, like Barcelona, remain unbeaten domestically. The Catalans, however, trail Real Madrid by three points as a result of having dropped six points on the road. City’s European struggles resurfaced last night in Italy, however, while Barca are the undisputed kings of the Continent and booked their place in the last 16 long before tonight’s clash with AC Milan.
The passing style for which Barca are so famed is engrained in the club’s DNA. No matter the opponent or situation, the Catalans refuse to compromise on their ethos. An influx of attacking talent over the summer has seen City transformed from dour pragmatists into the Premier League’s great entertainers, although they found it hard to break down a determined Napoli backline when it mattered.
City have international cover in every position, and erstwhile star man Carlos Tevez has been exiled with no adverse impact. So short are Barca for defensive cover, however, that midfielders Sergio Busquets and Javier Mascherano are asked to deputise at centre-half.
WHO’S THROUGH? | QUALIFIERS
Real Madrid ensured they would qualify as Group D winners by thrashing Dinamo Zagreb 6-2. Bayern Munich secured top spot in Group A by beating whipping boys Villarreal, while 2010 Champions League winners Inter Milan did likewise in Group B with a draw at Trabzonspor. Holders and favourites Barcelona and AC Milan qualified from Group H before the final two rounds of fixtures.