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Dreadful defending decimates Man City in Barcelona Mixed XI

| 23.02.2015

For the second season on the spin, Manchester City must try and overcome the mighty Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League, having finished second in their group behind Bayern Munich.

At 23/10, City are a fine price for anyone who fancies them, but the makeup of our mixed eleven suggests you’re better off siding with the visitors’ 6/5 odds.

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Joe Hart’s shutout in the 5-0 win over Newcastle was the England number one’s first clean sheet for eight games, while Barca’s Champions League goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen has collected six in his last nine Los Blaugrana appearances, making the young German a relatively easy choice.

It doesn’t get much better from there for Manuel Pellegrini’s side, with Argentine stalwart Pablo Zabaleta the only Etihad defender in the backline.

A run of two wins, and just one clean sheet, from City’s last seven outings isn’t good reading, and they last kept the opposition at bay prior to the mauling of the Geordies 11 games previously, in a 3-0 Premier League win at home to Crystal Palace back in mid-December.

The visitors have also been somewhat generous in defence of late, shipping six goals in their past eight matches, but the 1-0 loss at home to Malaga last time out was the first game Luis Enrique’s side didn’t win in 12.

With that in mind, there’s no case for breaking up Jeremy Mathieu and Gerard Pique’s partnership in favour of Vincent Kompany or Eliaquim Mangala, who has yet to live up to his reported £30m-plus price tag.

Barca regular Jordi Alba edges it at left-back ahead of Gael Clichy, who is still sharing the position with Aleksandar Kolarov at the Etihad.

Ex-Blaugrana favourite Yaya Toure is tasked with aiding former teammate Sergio Busquets in deep midfield, while providing a link between attack and defence, although the presence of Andres Iniesta slightly further forward should ensure plenty of creative spark.

It was a toss-up between Sergio Aguero and Luis Suarez in between shoo-ins Lionel Messi and Neymar, with the Citizens’ goal machine just about getting the nod due to the Uruguayan’s stuttering start to life at Camp Nou.

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

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Alex Fortune