Manchester City predicted XI v Barcelona

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Manuel Pellegrini will tonight have to make the most important team selection of his Manchester City career when he sends his side out to face Barcelona in the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie.

City trail 2-1 from the first leg and know they must score at least twice if they are to stand any chance of reaching the quarter finals stage for the first time in their history.

While the need to find the net twice will force Pellegrini to send his side out to attack he must also be wary of the threat from Barcelona's illustrious forward line, with Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez capable of breaking down the most solid of defences.

Toure boost

The City boss will be boosted by the return of Yaya Toure who has so often been such a dominant force in central midfield.

Toure has missed City's last three Champions League matches following a group stage red card against CSKA Moscow and will be keen to make amends for his self-enflicted absence when he faces up against his former team.

The powerful midfielder is one of just two men in Pellegrini's squad to have won the Champions League, and his big game experience will be key to City's chances of progression.


With goals a necessity for the Citizens, perhaps Pellegrini's biggest decision will be whether to deploy two strikers or one.

The City boss persisted with a 4-4-2 throughout the group stage and stuck to his guns for the home leg against Barca, partnering Sergio Augero and Edin Dzeko.

It was Aguero who got City's goal in the 2-1 defeat last time out and his place in the team is all but certain, unlike Dzeko's.

The Bosnian striker has scored just six times in an injury hit campaign, but his chances are boosted by the fact Wilfried Bony has yet to open his City account following a January switch from Swansea.

Midfield dominance

In order to overcome Barca, City are likely to have to control the midfield and that task has been made easier by the absence of Sergio Busquets who has been forced out with an ankle injury.

With Toure available again the Ivorian will likely be partnered by Fernando in an attempt to shackle the creativity of the likes of Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic and the evergreen Xavi.

Out wide, David Silva's form this season has made him almost undroppable, while James Milner's work rate and energy could see him start on the right in an attempt to pin back the marauding Jordi Alba.

Defensive issues

While the focus may be on City's need for goals, they will need to ensure they're solid at the back, and that has been a major issue this season.

City have struggled for consistency at the back and the usually reliable Vincent Kompany has come under criticism for recent performances, ultimately being dropped by Pellegrini after a poor display against Liverpool.

The left back slot will be given to Aleksandar Kolarov following Gael Clichy's red card in the first leg, while Pablo Zabaleta will likely start on the right ahead of Bacary Sagna.

Predicted line-up

Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov; Milner, Toure, Fernando, Silva; Dzeko, Aguero.

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