Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Pellegrini takes jab ... at United
by Ridge Mahoney, February 17th, 2014 7:04PM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

MOST READ
TAGS:  uefa champions league

MOST COMMENTED

[UCL PREVIEW: Man City-Barcelona]To the victor go the quips. In between a 2-0 FA Cup defeat of Chelsea and a monumental Champions League game against Barcelona, Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrinichanged course to take a swipe at his team’s bitterest rival.

“If we only consider this season, there is just one club in Manchester and it's ours but you cannot forget what United has done in the previous years,” said Pellegrini on Monday of the defending Premier League champion, which is mired in the middle of the standings. “We are aiming to keep growing by winning trophies -- not just national but international trophies. We are fighting for four titles this year.”

City plays Sunderland in the Capital Cup (League Cup) final March 2, has been matched with Wigan in the FA Cup quarterfinals, and is a point behind leader Chelsea in the Premier League. Thus, there’s plenty on its plate heading into Tuesday's home leg in the round of 16 (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1), which marks its first appearance in the knockout phase after falling out in the group phase the past two seasons.

It won five of its six group games, yet a 3-1 home loss to Bayern served as reminder of where City stands among the Euro hierarchy until proven otherwise. It has played torrid soccer since that defeat: 25 wins, three ties, and three losses, 94 goals scored, and 31 conceded. (However, two of those losses came in league play to Chelsea, which resumes its own Champions League campaign next week against Turkish club Galatasaray.)

The scoring ranks have grown recently with the emergence of Montenegrin Steven Jovetic, a $36 million summer signing from Fiorentina who has been struggling with injuries and illness. He netted his first City goal last month in a 5-1 Premier League rout of Tottenham and connected again for the winner against Chelsea as City reversed a 1-0 defeat in league play 12 days prior.

Jovetic started against Chelsea paired up top with Edin Dzeko, and gave away in the 61st minute for Sami Nasri, who himself was returning from a five-week absence due to a hamstring injury. Six minutes after entering, Nasri tucked away a return feed from David Silva to ice the victory, and his return to health brightens City’s hopes with top scorer Sergio Aguero sidelined by a bad hamstring and midfielder James Milner suspended.

Like City, Barcelona is locked in a tight three-way race for the league lead. A 6-0 demolition of Rayo Vallecano Saturday knotted it with Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid atop La Liga. All three teams have 60 points, 16 more than fourth-place Athletic Bilbao. In UCL play, Barca topped Group H head of AC Milan, Ajax and Celtic, scoring 16 goals and conceding five while compiling a 4-1-1 record.

Barca is riding a streak of six consecutive UCL semifinal appearances, yet last year’s 7-0 aggregate humiliation by eventual champion Bayern Munich and its tight La Liga battle this season have confirmed it no longer stands head and shoulders above all others. Still, Barca is Barca, and facing Lionel Messiand Neymar and the rest of its star-studded roster will stretch City as no other team can.

City midfielder Yaya Toure’s move between the clubs in 2010 and Pellegrini’s coaching stints in Spain with Villarreal, Real Madrid and Malaga add to the matchup’s intrigue.

“It is a good test,” Pellegrini said. “It is important. I don't think it is the most important thing because we are just in the round of 16. We can beat Barcelona and maybe in the next round you can have defeat. This club is trying to develop those areas.”

In his pregame press conference, Barcelona head coach Gerardo Martino emphasized possession as a key factor. He also sees qualities common to both teams. City features four Spanish players on its roster in addition to former Barca employee Toure.

“We don't have to prioritize either scoring or not conceding,” Martino said. “Obviously, we want to maintain possession, which is what we like and what benefits us, and if that leads to us scoring a goal then all the better. City are very similar to us. They are maybe a bit more direct but they are very good at keeping possession. I think the team with less time on the ball is the team that is going to suffer the most.”



Neymar had missed about a month with an ankle injury before returning with a goal in the rout of Rayo Vallecano but may not start against Manchester City. Xavi (calf) did not play last weekend and Jonathan dos Santos continues his long recovery from a knee injury.

The second leg is March 12 at Camp Nou.


No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
What They're Saying: Banc of California chief executive Steven Sugarman    
"We have a lot of relationships with the ownership group. We're probably zero or one degree ...
CCL: Vancouver takes charge in MLS battle    
The Vancouver Whitecaps, losers of their last four MLS games, took command of Group C in ...
MLS Countdown: Sounders activate Torres    
Nearly a year after suffering a torn ACL in just his fourth MLS appearance, Panamanian defender ...
U.S. Abroad: Yedlin arrives back in northeast England    
DeAndre Yedlin arrived in Newcastle Tuesday night as Newcastle United looked to conclude a deal for ...
What They're Saying: Sigi Schmid    
"Once a team gets confidence, medium-sized things become little things and little things disappear. When you're ...
Chicago Magic's Sabbi signs with Spain's Las Palmas    
Emmanuel Sabbi, an 18-year-old Chicago Magic PSG forward who has been a regular with the U.S. ...
U.S. Abroad: U-20s flee college for pros    
The exodus of college or college-bound players to Europe continues as two U.S. under-20 national team ...
Video Pick: Christian Pulisic scores in friendly    
In Borussia Dortmund's final friendly before the 2016-17 Bundesliga season kickoff this weekend, 17-year-old American Christian ...
Video Pick: Top 10 long-distance Messi goals    
After Lionel Messi opened his 2016-17 La Liga account with two long-range goals in Barcelona's 6-2 ...
CCL: Three MLS clubs in action this week    
The slumping Vancouver Whitecaps have a chance to put themselves in a position to take command ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives