The Champions League, the elite club football competition, always produces some huge matches right from the group stages due to the number of top teams battling it out for the title. Likewise, one can expect a great battle as Spanish giants Barcelona hosts Manchester City in a huge game at Camp Nou on Wednesday.
Barcelona and Manchester City are expected to progress into the next round of the competition, but it is victory in such matches which will give them huge confidence to deliver later in the knockout stages. Barcelona come into this clash with six points from their last two matches, while City were held by Celtic in their last encounter.
This match is going to be extra special for Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, who managed Barcelona for some glorious years in the past. Barcelona coach Luis Enrique was full praise for Guardiola, and described him as the best, but understands that the match is not about them but the players.
"Pep really is a good friend. I think he's the best coach in the world. I love his attacking mentality. But this is not a match between the coaches. The players are the ones who'll decide victory and defeat," UEFA's official website quoted Enrique as saying.
There are a host of players in both the teams, which will add huge value to the match. If Barcelona have players like Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar and Iniesta, City have Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan.
Barcelona always look a formidable team with Messi as he can work with his magic to produce goals and assists. Enrique is pleased with Messi, who will start against City.
"It's always good news for us to be able to say that Leo Messi is back. He makes chances, between the lines and when he's out wide. The more he is involved, the better Barcelona play," Enrique said.
Barcelona have always been a strong team at home, and Guardiola will be aware of that. Manchester City, after dropping points against Celtic, will be determined to snatch three crucial points against Barcelona, which will even help them go top of the table. For this to happen, they need their striker Aguero to be in top form.
If the likes of Bruyne and Aguero can get their act together, Barcelona defenders Gerard Pique and Mascherano need to be on top of their game to stop the opposition. Guardiola is aware of the offencive threat from Barcelona, which can create havoc for the visitors.
"This is a good test for us, against the best. But the fact we drew [against Celtic] means we are obliged to win back some points. I'm pleased Messi is fit. He's the best. What makes Barcelona's strikers special is that they require very few chances in order to score a goal," Guardiola said.
With both teams in full strength barring one or two injuries, Enrique and Guardiola have a good squad to choose from, and the quality on display should be top class.
Where to watch live
Barcelona vs Manchester City is scheduled to kick off at 12:15 a.m. IST (7:45 p.m. BST, 2:45 p.m. EST).
Where to watch live
India: TV: Ten 2. Live streaming: ten sports live
UK: TV: BT Sport 2. Live streaming: BT Sport live
USA: TV: Fox Sports 1 USA. Live streaming: Fox Sports Go
Spain: TV: Movistar+
Thailand, Indonesia: TV: BeIN Sports 1