Gerardo Martino says it’ll be a failure if his side do not knock Manchester City out
Barcelona head coach believes City are “one of the greatest teams in the world”
Neymar during a training session at the Etihad Stadium. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Gerardo Martino said it would be a failure if his side did not knock Manchester City out of the Champions League, though the Barcelona head coach believes they are “one of the greatest teams in the world”.
“For the last six seasons Barcelona have made it to the semis and the fans are used to it,” Martino said. “It will be difficult to understand if we don’t go through, but it is the tightest tie of all.”
City have a strong Spanish influence as Alvaro Negredo, David Silva and Jesus Navas are all from the country, while Ferran Soriano, the chief executive, and the director of football, Txiki Begiristain, are Spaniards who formerly held the same respective positions at the Catalan club.
With Manuel Pellegrini also favouring a high-tempo attacking game, City could be viewed as a mini-Barcelona, though Martino played down the comparison.
“I don’t think City are a mini-Barcelona or a mini-any-team,” he said. “I think they are one of the greatest teams in the world. They have great Spanish players like [Jesus] Navas, who plays very vertically, [David] Silva who knows when to pass and when to cross. But it is not only Spanish players. They have great players from all over the world, like Yaya Toure and Fernandinho.”
Martino believes that the tie is of a quality high enough to be the final. “Yeah, it could have been,” he said.
“It would be ideal if we meet them later, maybe in the last eight. The two teams are very good, doing very well in the league and the cups and it is the perfect timing for them to arrive into this game.”
Barcelona have been embroiled in controversy, with the dispute over Neymar’s precise transfer fee from Santos in the summer causing the president, Sandro Rosell, to resign. Gerard Pique believes the showdown with City will allow Barcelona to do their talking on the field.
“The only way we have to speak is on the pitch,” the defender said. “We know that at the club in the last six months there were some things that we cannot control as players.
“All we can do is on the pitch and show the world that we can still be the best and try to play a great game against a great team like Man City.”
Martino would not be drawn regarding whether Neymar, who has played only one game following injury, will start. “What is important for us is to have him healthy,” he said. “He played 30 minutes against Rayo Vallecano [at the weekend].
“We will decide tomorrow whether he will start or come on later.”