London: After a week in which Manchester City defeated reigning champions of Europe, Bayern Munich, on their own patch, and then hit six goals past Premier League leaders Arsenal, it comes as little surprise that manager Manuel Pellegrini has a spring in his step.
Following the Champions League draw on Monday, when City drew 2011 and 2009 winners Barcelona, the Chilean exuded confidence by suggesting that the Catalan giants are not the force they once were.
“I think Barca will be very concerned that they have drawn us. They will be under pressure,” the 60-year-old, who spent almost a decade in Spain as a manager after stints with Villareal, Real Madrid and Malaga before taking charge of City in the summer, said. “They are not the team of two years ago.
“All teams in the Champions League are exactly the same. If you want to win something important, you must beat important teams.
“The Bayern Munich result has given us a lot of confidence. We are improving every day and we must continue to improve.”
Fighting talk, indeed, but the man in the opposite dugout when the teams meet in their last-16 clash in mid February, Gerard Martino, was more diplomatic and respectful.
“If you had said to us a few years ago that we would have to play a tie in Manchester we would have thought about United, but now City are a very difficult opponent,” the Barcelona manager offered in reaction. “They have world-renowned players and it is a tie that has everything.
“It will be very interesting to have a game against a Pellegrini side as I think he is one of the best coaches in the world.”
Meanwhile, striker Sergio Aguero has been ruled out for a month with a calf injury sustained in Saturday’s 6-3 win over Arsenal, Pellegrini said.
“Sergio has a calf injury,” Pellegrini said ahead of Tuesday’s League Cup quarter final against Leicester City.
“The doctor can say how many weeks he will be out. I don’t know at the moment. I think he will be out for at least one month.”