City among world’s best, says Martino

Gerardo Martino claims Manchester City are no clone of his Barcelona side — but simply one of the best teams in the world.

Barca have arrived in Manchester ahead of the first leg of their eagerly-anticipated Champions League last-16 tie against the Premier League outfit.

Quadruple-chasing City have earned widespread plaudits for their attractive, attacking football under Manuel Pellegrini this season, a lot of which has earned comparisons with the great Barcelona sides of recent years.

Martino would not be drawn on that matter last night, warning that City are just a fine side in their own right.

The Argentinian said: “I don’t think City are a mini-Barcelona or a mini any team.

“I think they are one of the greatest teams in the world.

“They have great Spanish players like (Jesus) Navas and (David) Silva, but it is not only Spanish players.

“They have great players from all over the world like (Yaya) Toure, (Sergio) Aguero and Fernandinho.”

For a team that has grown used to success in recent times, with three Champions League wins since 2006, elimination at this stage would be unthinkable for Barcelona.

Martino is well aware how badly defeat would be received but he feels the task could hardly be much tougher.

He said: “For the last six seasons Barcelona have made it to the semi-finals and the fans are used to that.

“It will be difficult to understand if we don’t go through but it is the tightest tie of all.”

With City having been devastating in attack on occasions this season, Martino’s plan to combat them is relatively simple — keep hold of the ball.

He said: “The thing to do for us is to keep possession. The team with less possession of the ball will suffer most.”

Barcelona’s former Manchester United defender Gerard Pique is also well aware of the danger City pose.

City’s top scorer Aguero is out injured but with Alvaro Negredo, Pique’s Spain international team-mate, set to start, the front line remains fearsome.

Pique said: “Negredo is an exceptional player, he has had an amazing season but it is not only him, it is Yaya, Silva and Navas, they can all score goals and we have to be very aware of set-pieces and defend them well.”


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