With two epic tussles against Barcelona looming on the horizon, we look at what the Blues may have learned from playing the Catalans four times in the past three seasons.

One thing seems certain - these two matches will be the focus of the football world in the coming weeks...

Measured approach?

This is the first time City will have played Barca in the group stage of the Champions League so the urgency to take something out of the first meeting is not quite the same.

This is also the first time the opening gambit has been played at the Nou Camp, a venue City have only ever previously visited needing something of a miracle to overturn a first leg home defeat.

In a group stage game against Barcelona, a point would be an excellent result and if the Blues then pulled off a similar result at the Etihad, the chances of progressing through to the Round of 16 would dramatically improve.

                        CAMP FIRE: Silva will be at the heart of City's tactical plan
CAMP FIRE: Silva will be at the heart of City's tactical plan

City have lost all four meetings with Barcelona in the Champions League and two more losses in the group stages would leave the Blues needing to beat Celtic and Borussia Monchengladbach in the games that remain.

In short, City can take a patient approach to both games as the overall group results will determine the two sides that move forward in the competition, not the two games against the La Liga giants.

Keeping the ball

One thing any team playing Barca cannot allow is to needlessly give possession away so the Blues will need to play the Catalans at their own game by keeping the ball for as long as possible and then winning it back as quickly as possible when possession is lost.

It should be a fascinating battle with nobody knowing how Barca, Lionel Messi and company operate better than Pep Guardiola – but knowing is one thing, stopping them is something entirely different.

Meeting earlier than ever before could help?

City’s previous games against Barcelona have all come in February and March and by that point in the campaign, the Blues had played quite a few more games than the Catalans who enjoy a winter break..

This time, City have played 12 games – exactly the same as Barcelona – so legs and minds will be fresher – and that could help the Blues’ cause.

WATCH: City v Barcelona: Match highlights

Taking chances

City will create opportunities against Barca and the key, of course, is taking them.

In the four matches between the sides, goals have been at a premium with only nine scored in total and only two of those were scored by City.

If Lionel Messi, Neymar or Luis Suarez get half a chance, you can bet the ball will end up in the back of the net because they are prolific goal-poachers – the Blues need to have their shooting boots on for both games and take the opportunities when they come.

In fact, City have never taken the lead against Barcelona so it would be interesting to see how the game develops if it happens if Sergio or somebody else can grab an early goal.

WATCH: Barca v City: Match highlights

Defend calmly, counter-attack effectively

Barca love nothing better than to play intricate passes in and around the opposition penalty box and it would be easy to dive in and lose patience for any defender.

Giving needless free-kicks away on the edge of the area could prove costly with so many of the Barca players capable of something special from dead-ball situations.

                        OUCH! Suarez doubles Barca's lead in February 2015
OUCH! Suarez doubles Barca's lead in February 2015

The truth is, the Catalans may have made a slightly shaky start to their La Liga season – by their lofty standards – but they are only two points off the top and have been scoring freely with 23 goals in their last six games almost an average of four goals per match.

But City have been scoring plenty of goals, too -and if the Blues can hit Barca on the counter-attack, it could be an interesting night.


Knowing the best way to approach playing Barca has been an issue for many managers around Europe and City have been found wanting somewhat in past meetings.

That’s why these games will be so fascinating – Pep will no doubt have a very specific game-plan in mind and if the Catalan giants have an Achilles heel, he will know all about it.