When Manchester City step onto the turf at the Etihad Stadium for today’s match against Barcelona it will mark the first time the Citizens have ever played a Round of 16 contest in the Champions League.
For City midfielder David Silva, winning the match would represent a landmark victory for the club.
“It will be difficult, but beating Barcelona would be like a coming of age for Man City, very important for our confidence and international recognition,” Silva told the Manchester Evening News.
“It is a pity that we are without Sergio Aguero and possibly Fernandinho, who is very important for us in midfield. Sometimes we get a bit broken in midfield, there is too much separation between lines when we go forward, and are susceptible to the counter attack.”
While Aguero has been deemed out for the match and Edin Dzeko remains hampered by an ankle injury, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic are likely to start up top. Since scoring in the 5-1 rout of Tottenham on January 29th, Jovetic has started the 0-0 league draw with Norwich and the 2-0 win over Chelsea in last weekend’s FA Cup. The Montenegrin international scored and was fantastic against the Blues, proving that his early season injury issues are well behind him.
Fernandinho will be a late fitness test after taking part in training at the Etihad Stadium on Monday morning. The Brazilian has been suffering with a muscle injury since the end of January.
Of equal importance to Fernandinho is City’s center-back pairing. With Matija Nastasic’s knee injury, Vincent Kompany will pair with either Joleon Lescott or Martin Demichelis. Lescott, who fell out of favor earlier in the season, had a terrific return to the starting XI in Sunday’s win over Chelsea and looks the favorite to get the call against Barcelona.
No matter what the lineup permutation, for Silva the winning prescription remains the same: “The key is to keep up the pressure for 90 minutes, to avoid silly mistakes and take advantage of the chances.”