Pep Guardiola returns to Barcelona aiming to get one over his former employers with Manchester City in the Champions League on Wednesday. The 45-year-old may now be in charge at the Etihad Stadium but for many he remains synonymous with Barca and he is sure to be the main focus of many eyes ahead of the clash. Guardiola came through the Catalan giants’ famed youth system, became an influential member of their first team – and a Champions League winner – before going on to enjoy even greater success as their manager, winning 14 trophies during an all-conquering stint from 2008 to 2012.
“I cannot deny that it is something special for me,” Guardiola said. “I grew up in Catalonia. At 13 years old I went there to play in the Academy and I was promoted to a professional player, the trainer. “So I spent most of my life there. I know the people there, I know the club, the media, most of the players are still there, so the emotion is there.” The task in front of Guardiola and his City players is a very tough one.
Since losing 2-1 to Rubin Kazan in October 2009, Barcelona are unbeaten in 20 home Champions League group games, winning 18 and drawing two. Meanwhile, Liverpool are the only English team to beat Barcelona at the Nou Camp in the Champions League, back in 2007. In the other 19 English trips to the ground in the competition, there have been 11 Barcelona wins and eight draws.
Sergio Aguero is expected to return to Manchester City’s starting line-up. The striker came off the bench in Saturday’s 1-1 Premier League draw with Everton, as did captain Vincent Kompany, whose chances of coming into the first XI this time around appear less clear. Fabian Delph (unspecified) and Bacary Sagna (hamstring) remain sidelined, while Yaya Toure, who City boss Guardiola has said he will not pick unless he receives an apology from the player’s agent Dimitri Seluk for comments made in the media, cannot be selected on Wednesday anyway as he was not included in the Blues’ squad for the group stage of the competition.
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