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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Manchester City v Barcelona: Can England's number one Joe Hart stop Messi and co?

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Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has told the world that they are now the most dominant force in Manchester, but can they go on to become the most dominant side in Europe?

Tonight will be the acid test for Pellegrini's men, who have blown almost all of their rivals aside in the Premier League this season.

MessiCity have faced world class players before but they have never come up against the likes of Lionel Messi. The Argentine ace is the best in the world. He can ghost past players, the ball sticks to his feet and the only thing goalkeepers know they'll be doing when they face him is picking the ball out of the back of the net.

England and City number one Joe Hart has had his wobbles in the past year, but over the past few months he has regained focus and looks back to his best - which is exactly where he will need to be to keep Messi and co quiet.

Hart is an unbelievable shotstopper. He's tall, brave and agile with the refelexes of a cat. However, Messi has found a way past the best in the business. Not just once, but time and time again. 

Of course, this just isn't a straight battle between Hart and Messi though. Both City and Barca have players throughout their squads who can harm the opposition. Yaya Toure will come up against Iniesta. Negredo will face Pique - who still insists that Manchester United are a bigger team than City - and former Arsenal stars Fabregas and Nasri will lock horns too. There are huge battles over the pitch as two of the most exciting teams in Europe square up in this last-16 clash which many believe is worthy of a final itself. 

The omens look good for the hosts. City haven't lost to Spanish opposition in their past four clashes, while Barcelona have failed to win any of their past five away games in the knockout stages of this competition. Throw in City's exceptional home form and Barcelona could well be heading back to Catalonia empty-handed. 

But you can never dismiss any side with Lionel Messi in it. The boy is a magician and can destroy teams in the blink of an eye. 

City have thrashed many a team in England this season and neither they nor Barcelona will change their style tonight so this could be a classic. There will be goals, but who will come out on top?

SQF Prediction: 4-2

Calling all football fans: What do you think the score will be? We'd love to hear from you.

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