Barcelona are favourites for Man City clash, but have flaws, says Guillem Balague
Last Updated: 18/10/16 8:31am
Guillem Balague looks ahead to Manchester City's trip to Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday evening, and believes the La Liga champions sometimes struggle for control in games.
The Sky Sports' Spanish football expert says that while Luis Enrique's Barcelona have more tactical variations this season, they could get caught out against bigger sides.
Barcelona go into the game on the back of a 4-0 win over Deportivo, but their form had been up and down previously, and though Balague says they are favourites at the Nou Camp, their struggle for control could be telling.
"With Luis Enrique's Barcelona recently, there are certainly more tactical alternatives, more counter attacks, more direct football, more versatility tactically perhaps," Balague said.
"But at the same time they do struggle with control of the game at times, which against big sides could be really important. And there is no doubt that they depend totally on the three big guys.
"Not a bad thing to depend on, as they almost always deliver, but you would expect a team like Barcelona to show even more layers, especially with the ball.
"I think Barcelona arrive at the game with the confidence of having almost everybody fit. Alba and Sergi Roberto will be in the team, which means they have the best back four.
"Javier Mascherano will play instead of Samuel Umtiti, who is not 100 per cent, but Mascherano loves playing against Kun Aguero.
"Fitness-wise, Lionel Messi returning is important too. Twelve years after his first senior Barca appearance, he's just as important as he has always been."
Manchester City have also been in indifferent form of late, taking one point out of a possible six in the Premier League having won all six games previously.
Balague believes Pep Guardiola is still lacking some of the players he needs to truly make City his own, particularly at full-back, and that his first season in the Premier League will not be as smooth as first thought.
"Pep is still in the process of making City the team he wants," Balague said. "He doesn't have the players he needs to do that, especially in the full-back positions and also upfront, in the striker position. And without Kevin De Bruyne, the team suffers, as we've seen recently.
"Just generally, despite the fact everybody has put in a hard shift without the ball, this is a team that will have ups and downs throughout the season because the squad is not the one Pep Guardiola requires to play the football he wants.
"For Barcelona it is a good time to play City, while Pep's side improve, and they will improve. At the moment, Barcelona are favourites to make an impact on this game. I'm looking forward to it…"