Barca boss Martino hails Man City as “one of the greatest teams in the world”
Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino believes Manchester City are one of the strongest teams in the world, but the Argentinean shrugged off suggestion that the Eastlands were like a “mini-Barcelona”.
Martino, also known as Tata, admits Spanish supporters will be devastated to see Barcelona exit from the Champions League at the hands of Manchester City. Martino also suggested that Barcelona had his side had the toughest time in all matches of the last-16 stage of the Champions League.
Due to Manchester City’s shining Spanish players, Manuel Pellegrini’s side has often been likened to Barcelona. Martino shrugged off such claims, but admitted that Manchester City had morphed into one of the “greatest teams in the world”.
“I don’t think City are a mini Barcelona or a mini any team. I think they are one of the greatest teams in the world,” Martino said. “They have great Spanish players like [Jesus] Navas, who plays very vertically, [David] Silva who knows when to pass and when to cross, but it is not only Spanish players. They have great players from all over the world like [Yaya] Toure and Fernandinho.”
Barcelona have seen great success in the Champions League since 2006. The Catalan giants won the tournament in 2006, followed by wins in 2009 and 2011. Barcelona have recorded phenomenal success in the Champions League. The Spanish outfit has reached at least the semifinal stage of the tournament since 2006.
However, a sight slump in form has been noticed in their performance during the past couple of years, where they have been kicked out by Bayern Munich and Chelsea. According to many pundits there is a strong chance Barcelona might not make it to the semifinals this season.
“Yes, for the last six seasons Barcelona has made it to the semi-finals and the fans are used to it. It will be difficult to understand if we don’t go through but it is the tightest tie of all,” Martino told reporters ahead of his side’s trip to Etihad Stadium for the tie against Manchester City on Tuesday.
Martino’s main concern will be to keep Manchester City’s strong attack at bay. The Argentinean tactician is well-aware of that fact, but is lining up a strong attack to keep Manchester City’s midfield and defense busy. The biggest question for Martino will be the inclusion of Neymar. The Brazilian forward has just recently recovered from ankle injury, but has had little practice with the team.
“What is important for us is to have him healthy,” Martino added. “He played 30 minutes against Rayo [Vallecano, who Barcelona beat 6-0 on Saturday]. We will decide [on Tuesday] whether he will start or come on later.”