Negredo confident ahead of Barcelona clash
Published 15/02/2014 | 14:17
Striker Alvaro Negredo is confident Manchester City have the game to ruffle Barcelona when their Champions League challenge resumes next week.
City are preparing for one of the biggest nights in their history as, after reaching the knockout stages of Europe's elite competition for the first time, the mighty Catalans visit the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.
Yet while the tie is undoubtedly another landmark in the continuing development of the Premier League club, Negredo is clear it does not have to end there.
City have earned many plaudits for their attacking verve this season and Spain international Negredo believes they can trouble the four-time champions.
Negredo said: "We like to have the ball, we have a good repertoire - we've got fast men down the wing, people in midfield who can give the right touch and the wingers like to come infield too. We've got resources, haven't we?
"I think one of the things that is going to be important in this game is who has got the ball.
"It's clear that it is very difficult to take the ball off Barcelona, but when they don't have the ball, they suffer.
"Another thing is that we are not usually a team that gives the ball away easily. That could discourage them too."
Barcelona's level widely perceived to have dipped since their two most recent Champions League wins of 2009 and 2011, when the brilliant trio of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi were at the height of their powers.
Messi himself has endured an injury-disrupted season and is still bidding to get to his best.
Yet Barca remain in a three-way battle for La Liga title, are still among the favourites for the Champions League and are through to the Copa del Rey final.
And with City having produced some devastating performances this season, Negredo is anticipating a ferocious clash, whether or not Messi is on song.
The 28-year-old said on Catalunya Radio: "The way I see it, they have a surplus of talent.
"Without doubt, Messi is Messi, the best player in the world, and they've got him.
"In this case he has been injured but neither have you seen the worst Barcelona in the world.
"Maybe it's a Barcelona that is not working so much now at a high level, or that doesn't perform the attacking part quite as well without Leo.
"But Leo is Leo. If Leo's not there, there will be another player. It's bad news if he's not there."
City manager Manuel Pellegrini is also surprised by some of the negative coverage of Barcelona in recent weeks.
Whether or not they have passed their peak, Pellegrini feels they remain a formidable side.
The Chilean, who guided Malaga to the quarter-finals last season having previously taken Villarreal to the last four, said: "Any coach would love to have the roster that Barca has.
"Barca have 12 wonderful players. Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Neymar, Cesc (Fabregas), Pedro, they are full of great players.
"They have been leading the Primera Liga standings, they are alive in the Champions League and they are in the final of the Copa del Rey."
Pellegrini has no doubt of the credentials of Gerardo Martino, who took charge at the Nou Camp last summer.
He said: "I think he is a great coach. He took over Barca at a difficult time, when the club had won many trophies. He is having a great season.
"He has enough experience to assume the pressure but so far he has done a good job."