Vincent Kompany: Bring on Barcelona

Manchester City 5 Newcastle United 0: THE prospect of facing mighty Barcelona - Messi, Neymar, Suarez et al - will presumably offer Manchester City more concern than this perfunctory five-goal thrashing of Newcastle but so schizophrenic are the mood swings at the Etihad Stadium these days that captain Vincent Kompany is relishing the prospect.

Vincent Kompany: Bring on Barcelona

A disastrous January, which featured one league victory and a home FA Cup exit to Middlesbrough, has made way for a month in which Kompany’s side has cut Chelsea’s lead at the top of the table to five points and scored nine goals in their last two victories.

This latest win had been preceded by a 4-1 victory at Stoke who, to hear Kompany explain it, are a team more to be feared than City’s next opponents, at the Etihad in the Champions League last 16 first leg tie tomorrow.

“Fear? We don’t fear them,” said Kompany of the Catalan side who knocked City out of the Champions League comfortably 12 months ago. “You don’t go in at this level fearing strikers. We want to play against them. It’s the fourth time in a year now. There’s nothing new to worry us, it’s a case of having the whole team at a very high level.

“They’re a special team with special players, of course. I think their ability is not about hurting you all game - you can have tougher games when you go to Stoke City. It's about the fact they can decide a game within a second. They have more players than anyone else in the world who can finish games with a touch of magic.

“But I’ve come into football to play those games. The moment I’m feeling reluctant to play in these games, then I’m not in the right place. This is what I want.”

Whether Stoke are indeed tougher opponents than Barcelona, one fact is undeniable - the Catalan giants will offer City a sterner examination than did John Carver’s Newcastle who conceded a penalty inside the opening 30 seconds and went steadily downhill thereafter.

Sergio Aguero converted that spot kick, Samir Nasri made it two and man of the match Edin Dzeko scored his first league goal since late September before David Silva added two more in the second half - all this with new £28 million striker Wilfried Bony reduced to a 30-minute cameo coming off the bench.

“We’ve been showing signs of improvement in the last few weeks and that's the way we have to carry on now. Everyone is focused again,” said Kompany of his team’s improved form.

“Our team has been proving our determination in recent years. That’s one thing when you look back on this team in the future you will never be able to say we did not have determination.

“We’ve always come back. We’re putting in a fight again for the Premier League - you saw that today. And we’ll put in a fight for the Champions League too. The history of this club tells you that in the past six years we always keep progressing. It’s only a matter of time.”

A matter of time, and money, of course. Given City’s dazzling array of attacking talent, Manuel Pellegrini’s side should be a match for Barcelona even if the City manager was all too aware of the fact that Tuesday’s opponents will have put the Newcastle performance firmly in perspective.

“I don’t think the other team will be thinking about what we did today,” said Pellegrini. “But for our team it is important to arrive at the game against Barcelona at a good level.

“If you just think about Lionel Messi you will have more problems. Yes, he’s pretty good, but if you mark Messi with three or four players he might not touch the ball but then you have Suarez, you have Neymar, Iniesta, Xavi - you have a lot of other players to worry about. Let’s see their team and then see what we can do about Messi.

“Again we have the chance to continue in the Champions League. They may be one of the better teams left in the competition but we have a lot of confidence.”

MAN CITY (4-1-3-2): Hart 7; Zabaleta 7, Kompany 8, Mangala 6, Kolarov 6; Fernandinho 7; Nasri 8 (Lampard 70, 7), Toure 6, Silva 8 (Navas 59, 7); Dzeko 9, Aguero 8 (Bony 59, 7).

Subs (not used): Caballero, Demichelis, Clichy, Fernando, Lampard.

NEWCASTLE (4-1-4-1): Krul 6; Janmaat 6 (Taylor 70, 5), Williamson 5, Coloccini 4, Haidara 6; Anita 4 (Abeid 46, 6); Gouffran 5 (Obertan 86), Colback 5, Sissoko 4, Perez 6; Cisse 5.

Subs (not used): Ameobi, Riviere, Armstrong, Woodman.

Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside) 8.

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