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Three lessons Man City must learn for Barcelona second leg

| 19.02.2014

Lionel Messi and Dani Alves grabbed the goals that make Barcelona heavy favourites to progress at Manchester City’s expense in the Champions League, but there were certainly positives for Manuel Pellegrini to take in defeat.

With City 9/2 to win the second leg, just what are the lessons the Chilean can learn ahead of the Spanish trip?

Pick the best ball-playing centre back

Before being dismissed, Martin Demichelis was performing admirably in his defensive duties. However surprising that was, he still managed to let his side down when the ball was at his feet.

With Barcelona keeping the ball on a string, it was vital City kept hold of it when they finally had a turn. More often than not the pony-tailed Argentine was guilty of a loose pass that gifted Barcelona possession. So, with Demichelis banned Pellegrini must time Matija Nastasic’s return from injury perfectly for the second-leg.

The Serb has a pass success rate of over 90 percent for the Citizens and will help keep the ball far better than Joleon Lescott, who was also wasteful in Demichelis’ absence.

Stick to the original plan

Up until the sending off, Vincent Kompany and co were more than holding their own. Pairing Aleksandar Kolarov and Gael Clichy on the left was scuppering Alves’ advances and, although they were seeing much less of the ball, were matching Barca shot-for-shot (nine each).

So, while it may be tempting to change things up and look to attack more in search of goals, there’s just cause for Pellegrini to keep the plan exactly the same, with a longer contest of 11 v 11 likely to reap rewards.

Swap Jesus Navas for James Milner

Spanish winger Navas didn’t have a bad game on the right, but with City set up to keep Barcelona in front of them, then spring attacks on the counter, there’s nobody else you’d really want to do that other than Milner.

Pivotal in City’s win over Bayern Munich in the group stage, Milner’s combination of tenacity and efficient skill has seen the Citizens lose just two of the 15 games the former Villa man has started.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.