Manchester City eyeing first win at Barcelona in Champions League

Pep Guardiola oversees Manchest City trainingPep Guardiola returns to Camp Nou with another new team Wednesday when Manchester City visits Barcelona for a marquee matchup in Champions League group play. Guardiola made 263 appearances for Barcelona in his playing career and managed the club from 2008-2012 before helming Bayern Munich for three seasons, and he has wasted no time inflicting his attacking flair on England’s top domestic league.

Under Guardiola, Manchester City is tied atop the Premier League, posting 19 goals scored and only eight allowed in eight games. Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling have nine of the squad’s tallies combined, and Aguero is leading the way in Champions League play with three goals in two games. Guardiola will need Aguero and Sterling at their best against Barcelona, which has outscored Manchester City 7-2 in four Champions League meetings over the last two years.

Led by Luis Enrique, Barcelona isn’t dominating its domestic league table, but the squad is in firm control of Group C after defeating Celtic and Monchengladbach by a combined score of 9-1. Everything to do with Barcelona runs through Lionel Messi, who scored a hat trick against Celtic but missed the Monchengladbach match due to a groin injury that sidelined him for three weeks. Messi should be fit to start after coming off the bench and scoring in his return last Saturday.

Guardiola has yet to find an answer for Messi, who recorded two goals and an assist the last time he faced a Guardiola-led team. Barcelona striker Luis Suarez should also prove a handful after scoring six times in seven La Liga contests and twice in Champions League. If Messi and Suarez find their way behind Manchester City’s defense, it will be up to goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to thwart his former teammates. Bravo made 70 appearances for Barcelona before signing with Manchester City in the summer.

A win at Camp Nou would be a powerful statement early in Guardiola’s Manchester City tenure, and the result of Wednesday’s match will go a long way to determining who exits the group stage with the top seed. Barcelona will visit Manchester City on November 1.