After a fairly fortuitous 2-0 win against a game Manchester City in the Champions League, it looks likely that Barcelona will get through to the quarter-finals at the expense of the moneyed English side. In recent years, Spanish clubs have had the upper hand over their English opponents, with Barca among those profiting the most.
In the past decade, the current champions have managed to overcome Manchester United in two finals, Arsenal twice in the knockout stages and, on the odd occasion, Chelsea. City could soon join that list, but against Premier League opposition, there have been a few slips, with both United and Chelsea, still in the competition, having taken the club’s scalp in recent times.
Assuming that their passage to the quarter finals is assured, Barca could face either Chelsea or United in the quarter-finals. Both clubs have relatively comfortable draws against Galatasaray and Olympiacos respectively, so another Catalan/English clash could be almost unavoidable. Even though United lost the first leg to Olympiacos, they are still favoured to win the tie over the two legs. Of the two, Jose Mourinho’s team look like the more difficult opponents despite their lack of firepower.
For now, the focus will be on whether Barca will be able to get over their surprise 3-1 defeat at the Anoeta against Real Sociedad in time for the return leg. Their record at home is almost perfect in European competition, so they should be able to see off City’s challenge, however formidable they may be when going forward.
Many English clubs will have had memorable games against opposition from Spain. The semi-final contested between Chelsea and Barca in the 2011-12 Champions League sticks out, as this was the match which helped the Blues on their way to the final and their first ever tournament win.
For City, or indeed any future opponents of Barca, Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid, they will have to defend for their lives while resorting to counter-attacking tactics. As Chelsea found out during that memorable night at the Camp Nou almost two years ago, it’s the best way to deal with teams possessing so much attacking talent.