As long as the players of FC Barcelona take the Champions League game this evening seriously and play somewhere close to their usual quality then Luis Enrique should be heading back to Spain with all three points in the bag. We need to do that as well or Barca could find themselves in the odd position of being runners up in the UCL group and facing a tougher task in the knockout stage.
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The most successful manager in the history of FC Barcelona will be coming back to his old stomping ground this week, as Pep Guardiola brings his new club Manchester City to the Nou Camp for the first of two back to back group games in the Champions League.
The former boss is under no illusion about the size of the task facing Man City either, as he has described his former club as a machine and even though his new side is packed with talents like David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero, Pep has said that his players should expect to have less possession of the ball.
Barcelona fans are still reeling from the shock La Liga defeat dished out by newly promoted Alaves at the weekend, so Luis Enrique is looking for an instant and emphatic return to form tonight against the Scottish champions Celtic in the first of the Champions League group games.
The main reason for that defeat in post people’s eyes was the manager’s decision to make seven changes and leave key players like Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, Luis Suarez and of course Lionel Messi on the bench and one of the reasons he would have done it was to keep them fresh for tonight.
To be honest, and this is no disrespect to the Arsenal side that will be facing Barcelona tonight, it should not really matter too much if our manager Luis Enrique gets his tactics wrong in north London tonight. It would probably only be a footnote in the annals of football history if Arsene Wenger and his players cdan spring a big surprise and win the first leg of the double-headed Champions League clash.
Luis Enrique and the Barcelona players will be under no illusion that they are through to the semi-finals of the Champions League just yet. But having today´s second leg at the Nou Camp and a 3-1 lead over PSG from the first leg at the Stade de France makes us clear favourites.
PSG need to score at least three times tonight but they do have a couple of key players back in the form of the former Barca striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and midfield maestro Marco Verratti. And we saw from the previous round against Chelsea that the French champions are capable of causing an upset, so we don´t really need the Real Madrid assistant Zinedine Zidane to tell us that PSG could possibly go through, as reported by ESPN.
Of course it will be a concern to Luis Enrique, his players and everyone concerned with FC Barcelona that the team suffered their first defeat of the season last night. And the French champions PSG will be hard to dislodge from the top of the Champions League group after their 3-2 win at the Parc des Princes, but it is by no means a disaster.
The Champions League draw threw up a clash between the top two teams in La Liga, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, which many think will be the tie of the round. And the fact that Diego Simeone’s team play the second leg at their home ground gives them a slight advantage, with the Vicente Calderon being a notoriously hard place to go.
So Barcelona must make the most of the injury that Madrid’s powerful and prolific striker Diego Costa picked up in training yesterday. The Brazilian born forward would have caused Barca a major problem, especially without the unlucky Victor Valdes who is out for the season.
FC Barcelona will be expecting to have to beat Real Sociedad today to retain their place at the top of La Liga, because Real Madrid have the much easier task of a home game against Elche. Barcelona can expect a tough away match, with the Sociedad manager, players and fans seeking revenge for what they see as a very unfair game at the Nou Camp recently.