Good old Jose Mourinho is at it again; throwing out some more choice sound bites before Barcelona arrive to test Manchester City’s Champions League metal, by labelling Gerardo Martino’s current crop the ‘worst in years’.
In all probability this latest acidic splurge from the ‘spiky one’ is aimed at undermining any potential triumph for Manchester City in the tie – where the Citizens are the 8/5 outsiders to qualify at the Catalan’s expense.
There is always the possibility that there is some ill-feeling leftover from his Real Madrid days thrown into the mix too, but nonetheless this is a desperate claim given the evidence.
Barcelona may not have won the Champions League for a few years, but they’ve still managed to pick up successive La Liga titles in the meantime, while they are currently top and 1/1 favourites to make it a hat-trick.
There is even a case to be me made that the current Barca assembly is in fact the best they’ve produced since embarrassing Manchester United in the 2011 final.
From the XI which started that final at Wembley, nine of those players still remain at the Camp Nou, with six of those playing from the first whistle in Barca’s preceding 6-0 demolition of Rayo Vallecano ahead of their Etihad date.
They were goalkeeper Victor Valdes, scorers Lionel Messi and Pedro, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta and Dani Alves.
While it can be argued Xavi may have passed his pinnacle, Iniesta is still the right side of 30 and at 26 Pedro and Messi could well be hitting their peak.
Added to this, Jordi Alba is an obvious upgrade on Eric Abidal at left-back and in the offensive positions the additions of Neymar , Alexis Sanchez and Christian Tello make them even stronger still.
The wool has not been pulled on this one.
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