Nasri convinced Manchester City can turn things around at the Camp Nou

Midfielder unconvinced by Barcelona as he cites referee’s calls as being pivotal to defeat

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini: could be facing a touchline ban at the Camp Nou following his comments about the referee following the first leg defeat to Barcelona at the Etihad Stadium. Photo: Darren Staples/Reuters

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini: could be facing a touchline ban at the Camp Nou following his comments about the referee following the first leg defeat to Barcelona at the Etihad Stadium. Photo: Darren Staples/Reuters

Thu, Feb 20, 2014, 01:00


Samir Nasri has claimed Manchester City can still knock Barcelona out of the Champions League in next month’s second leg of their last-16 tie.

Manuel Pellegrini, the manager, however, may have to watch from the stands if he incurs a touchline ban following his outburst against the referee Jonas Eriksson.

City lost 2-0 to Barca at the Etihad after goals from Lionel Messi and Dani Alves. Messi’s came from a penalty that Pellegrini disputed, with Eriksson also sending off Martin Demichelis, who made the challenge on his countryman.

Pellegrini claimed that Eriksson failed to be impartial and had decided from the start to rectify alleged mistakes he made in a previous Champions League tie involving the Spanish club and Milan.

Uefa is awaiting reports from Eriksson and the match delegate before deciding whether to charge Pellegrini, who is likely to be issued with a touchline ban for the Camp Nou.


Close game
Of City’s prospects of overcoming Barca on 12 March, Nasri said: “We will have to gamble, but why not? We went to Munich and beat them [in the group stage], so we can do the same.

“There was a foul on Jesus Navas first – we saw the footage and it was not a penalty. It is really frustrating this decision, because before it was a close game. They did not have any clear chances, but it is not over. We can do it. It will be an open game, they will come like Barcelona.

“They will come and play, so we will have plenty of space. Aguero will be back, we will be fitter, so why not? It does not change anything in our belief and our quality. We believe in ourselves. We believe in what we can do.

“At the start of the season, we won at Munich. We won at home to Manchester United and Spurs, and by big scores.”

Given the away-goals rule, and City having to score at least three times, they could allow Gerardo Martino’s team to net at least once. “Everything is possible. Thee-one? We can do it,” said the Frenchman.

Nasri believes City can be encouraged by Valencia’s 3-2 win at the start of month. That was Barca’s first home defeat of the campaign.

“They played without fear. That is what we need to do. We have to gamble, try to play and attack them. They do not like to be attacked,” he said.

Nasri, who came on as a second-half replacement, is clear City are not scared of Barca. The playmaker maintains Barca are not the best side City have played this season.

“No, I don’t think they are,” he said, then cited the holders’ 3-1 win at the Etihad during the group stage. “Bayern are the best team we played here. Against Bayern, for 60 minutes we did not touch the ball. They are the best team . . .

“We turn the page already and we are focused on the Stoke game and the Capital One Cup final,” he said of Saturday’s league meeting and next month’s Wembley game against Sunderland.

Guardian Service