Sergio Aguero has fired a warning at Barcelona, insisting his Manchester City team are not the same team that crumbled at the hands of the Catalan giants last season.
The two sides meet in the Champions League last 16 for the second successive term, and Aguero fully expects the two games to be exciting encounters.
City's path to the knock-out stages was a dramatic one and Aguero is keen for his team to build on famous wins against Bayern Munich and Roma when they take on Luis Enrique's Barcelona.
After the opening four games of the group stage City found themselves in danger of falling at the first hurdle for the third time in four Champions League seasons.
However, an Aguero hat-trick inspired a 3-2 win against Bayern Munich, before goals from Samir Nasri and Pablo Zabaleta secured progression with a 2-0 win in Rome.
Aguero believes the two results are proof of City's ever-growing standing in European competition and will act as inspiration for the Barca clashes.
With the first leg taking place at the Etihad Stadium tonight, Aguero insisted his teammates were confident of progressing.
He told MCFC.co.uk: "We’re confident we’ll do well – when many thought we were down and out in this competition, we defeated Bayern and then Roma in Italy.
"That shows we are growing as a European force and we can do it again.”
Last time out
When the two sides met last year there was a clear gulf in quality, with Barca running out convincing 4-1 winners over two legs.
Aguero admitted the difference in quality, but says things will be different this time round, saying: "Barca made it difficult for us last time because they kept the ball so well and that’s one of their main strengths and that made it difficult for us to dominate the game.
"We wanted to attack them more but we weren’t able to reach the final third of the pitch as often as we wanted to.
"This is a new game and we’re are not the same as we were last season and they aren’t, either. Both of teams have had reinforcements that have improved the squad so we’ll have to see what kind of game it is, but one thing I think I can say with confidence is that they are both going to be great games.”
With the likes of FC Basel, Monaco and Schalke still in the competition, City could be forgiven for feeling hard done by after drawing Barca for the second year in a row. Aguero, however, insists he's relishing the clash with Barca and claimed there are no easy draws at this stage of the competition.
"I said it last year and I’ll say it again - it’s always good to face off against the best and at this stage of the Champions League, there are only tough rivals," he said.
"I didn’t think ‘not Barca again’ when the draw was made but it’s a big coincidence, isn’t it?"
The two-legged clash will see Aguero again meet up with great friend Lionel Messi, who is Godfather to the City striker's son Benjamin.
Despite the clear bond between the two diminutive attackers, Aguero claims not to have spoken to Messi about the match-up this year, insisting their friendship will disappear during the course of the two games.
“We had that conversation last year so there’s no need to do it again," he said.
“It’s clear that friendship has no place in the field. We are both focused in giving our team the best until the whistle blows and that’s the way it should be.”
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