Match Preview: Manchester City vs Barcelona

The Champions League is back and Manchester City prepare ahead of tomorrow evening’s eagerly-awaited clash with Barcelona, which will take place in the Etihad Stadium.

Arguably, this match will be one of the biggest fixtures in this season’s competition because of a range of talented players such as Lionel Messi, Xavi and Iniesta playing against opposition with players such as Jesus Navas, David Silva and Alvaro Negredo.

However, Sergio Aguero is still out of action following his injury. On top of all the star studded players which will be against each other tomorrow evening, it will be the first time Yaya Toure plays against his former club Barcelona since his departure in 2010.

Manchester City’s Argentinian full back Pablo Zabaleta has told Sky Sports that he is ready to face the Spanish giants. He also admits the Barcelona game will show how much The Citizens have progressed.

“We know how important it is to win big games and of course, it’s a big challenge for us because when you play against the best, you see where you are,” said Zabaleta.

Meanwhile, former Manchester United defender Gerard Pique has issued a warning to Champions League opponents Manchester City.

Pique is looking forward to returning to England and says Barcelona are not only reliant on Lionel Messi as they have quality players across the pitch in Neymar, Pedro and Alexis Sanchez.

The defender was full of praise for Brazilian sensation Neymar.

Pique told the Daily Telegraph: “Neymar’s really young, he’s got a lot of hunger to show to the world that he is right for Barcelona and that he’s one of the best players in the word.”

“His quality, his skills, his goals, have added a lot to the team and at the same time maybe he takes a little bit of the focus,” added Pique.

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has expereince playing against Barcelona. The Chilean previously managed Malaga and Real Madrid.

Whilst the players prepare, they were still full of praise for their opponents. But only time will tell who, if any, will go on to clinch a victory in tomorrow’s clash.

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Manchester United 2-2 Fulham: Darren Bent Piles The Pressure on Moyes

Darren Bent scored a very late equaliser to secure Fulham a point. Rene Meulensteen returned to Old Trafford for the first time as manager of Fulham.

Steve Sidwell gave the visitors the lead after he made a run into the box and was completely unmarked to slide the ball into the back of the net past David de Gea to break the deadlock after 19 minutes.

Former United player Kieran Richardson missed a golden opportunity to give Fulham a 2-0 lead after a quick counter attack from a Manchester United corner kick

Although for most of the match Fulham were leading 1-0, Manchester United kept on piling on the pressure on the Fulham defence and continued to dominate the game. The stats were heavily in favour of Manchester United, who managed 81 crosses throughout the match, the highest in any Premier League match since 2006.

Two late goals in quick succession from Robin Van Persie and Michael Carrick in the 78th and 80th minute gave United a 2-1 lead. Michael Carrick’s shot from the edge of the box went in after taking a deflection off Fulham midfielder Scott Parker.

Darren Bent

EQUALISER: Darrent Bent’s header makes it 2-2 in the 94th minute

Meulensteen has managed to win three out of 11 league matches since being given the job in December, after the sacking of Martin Jol.

A dramatic equaliser after a superb save from de Gea to keep out Richardon’s effort in the dying seconds of the match has certainly piled the pressure on a beleaguered David Moyes. With Liverpool securing a 5-1 victory against Arsenal and Tottenham beating rivals Everton 1-0, it was a must-win game for Manchester United.

Manchester United now currently lie 7th in the table, nine points behind 4th placed Liverpool.

Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea Travel To The Etihad In Search Of A Victory

Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea travel to the Etihad Stadium on Monday in search of a victory. Both clubs are major contenders for the Premier League this season, and these two teams are the favourites to lift the Premier League trophy after a run of consistent performances.

Manchester City have a 100% home record in the league this season. City have played 11 times at home this season and have won all 11 matches in the league at home, managing to score 42 goals in the process.

Arguably, Chelsea and Manchester City’s squads are the strongest in England with great strength in depth and gifted players on the substitutes bench as well as the starting XI.

But Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho admits he is not under pressure to get a victory against Manchester City.

“We are going to try to win knowing perfectly we can lose or draw. Our intention is to try to win”, said Mourinho.

Manchester City have made finding the back of the net look really easy with four players hitting double figures already this season.

Chelsea also have players on form with Samuel Eto’o recently scoring a hat trick against Manchester United. Also, the West Londoners have Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard and Brazilian duo Willian and Oscar in terrific form, who are dubbed the ‘Three Amigos’.

Can Juan Mata Get Manchester United Back To Winning Ways?

According to Phil Jones, new signing Juan Mata can be the catalyst for Manchester United and get the club back to winning ways.

The Spaniard joined united in a fee worth £37.1 million after struggling to get in the Chelsea starting XI.

Mata made his debut in Old Trafford against Cardiff City on Tuesday evening, and managed to play 85 minutes for the Reds before being substituted.

He received a standing ovation from the Manchester United fans after a brilliant display and was involved in most of the attacks, including United’s first goal.

Manchester United have made a disappointing start to 2014 after recent exits from the FA Cup and Capital One Cup. The Reds also lie 13 points behind league leaders and local rivals Manchester City.

Phil Jones is confident Mata will bring the best out the squad and the signing of the highly talented attacking midfielder motivates the team in the dressing room and on the pitch.

“We want to impress and show him that we are what we are, that we are one of the best teams to be at. He has done well and I am sure he will be a huge asset and fantastic player for Manchester United, hopefully for many years to come”, said Phil Jones to Sky Sports.

The signing of Juan Mata was applauded by all Manchester United fans, and he has already proven himself in England with Chelsea.

Robin Van Persie also returned into action against Cardiff and managed to score the games opener with a header after six minutes in front of the Stretford End. The prolific Dutchman was struggling with a thigh injury and was sidelined since December.

Manchester United received further good news as Wayne Rooney managed to overcome a groin problem. He was on the bench but later came on to replace Robin Van Persie. Jones also believes the signing of Mata and the shrinking injury list of United is a good sign and can get United a win on Saturday against Stoke.

Manchester United: The Fantastic Five

Over the years Manchester United have had some extremely talented players that have dominated English and world football and some still continue to do so.

The Fantastic Five of Manchester United were George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo.

These five players were certainly eye catching in all their performances during the different decades of Manchester United Football Club.

One thing they all have in common is that they wore the glorified Number 7 shirt, which is a prestigious moment for a Manchester United footballer.

ROME - MAY 26:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United attends the Manchester United press conference prior to UEFA Champions League Final versus Barcelona at the Stadio Olimpico on May 26, 2009 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Cristiano Ronaldo

The last of the Fantastic Five at Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo had some encpasulating times as a United footballer. He managed to win all major silverware, including the Premier League and Champions League. In my opinion, Ronaldo was the best of the lot because he scored 42 goals in one season and also managed to win the prestigious Ballon D’Or in 2008. The perfect replacement for David Beckham. The Portuguese wing wizard also scored some unbelievebale goals at United, including the free kick against Portsmouth and the header against Roma in the Champions League.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 24: David Beckham looks on during the Gary Neville Testimonial Match between Manchester United and Juventus at Old Trafford on May 24, 2011 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

David Beckham

There was no doubting of Beckham’s ability. He was a world class player who always produced in the biggest of matches. Beckham was part of the memorable 1999 squad that lifted the glorious treble. His two corner kicks in the Champions League Final against Bayern Munich in the Nou Camp ensured United score two goals in the famous Fergie Time to win the Champions League in one of the most dramatic ways ever. Two goals in additional time. Beckham left United in 2003 and Ronaldo was bought in to replace the English midfield maestro. David Beckham has also scored some fantastic goals himself, including the half way line chip against Wimbledon.

1 Aug 2001:  Eric Cantona makes a comeback in the Manchester United shirt during the Ryan Giggs Testimonial match against Celtic played at Old Trafford, in Manchester, England. Celtic won the match 4-3. \ Mandatory Credit: Gary M Prior /Allsport

Eric Cantona

French forward Eric Cantona was known for his off the pitch antics and was also dubbed a ‘hothead’ by some people. But on the pitch there was not a single doubt that the United legend was born to play football. Cantona managed to win four Premier League titles in five years as well as two League and FA Cup Doubles. Nicknamed as ‘King Eric’ by the Manchester United faithful, Cantona ended his career in Manchester United in decorative style. He played a key role in the revival of Manchester United in the 1990s. Cantona was also voted as Manchester United’s greatest ever player by Inside United magazine.

Manchester United midfielder Bryan Robson, 1988.(Photo by Pascal Rondeau/Getty Images)

Bryan Robson

English midfielder Bryan Robson was a monumental part of Manchester United. He captained the team to three FA Cups and a European Cup Winners Cup. Bryan Robson, nicknamed Captain Marvel, was known for a range of different attributes which made him part of the Fantastic Five at Manchester United. He had a good goal scoring record as well as terrific anticipation, movement and off the ball and possessed high levels of stamina as well as great tackling techniques to name a few. Bryan Robson also got capped 90 times for England, making him the sixth highest capped player for England at all times. Currently, Bryan Robson is a global ambassador for Manchester United.

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 29:  The statue of Manchester United's 'Holy Trinity' of players stands in front of Old Trafford after being unveiled today on May 29, 2008, Manchester, England. The statue of United legends Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and the late George Best comes 40 years to the day since the club first lifted the European Cup. Charlton, Best and Law scored 665 goals between them for United and between 1964 and 1968, all won the coveted European Footballer of the Year award.  (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

George Best

George Best was the first of the Fantastic Five to wear the famous Number 7 shirt as a Manchester United player. Now, sadly, George Best has passed on after his death on 25th November, 2005, aged 59, due to complications from the immunosupressive drugs he needed to take after a NHS liver transplant in 2002. Best was a phenomenal footballer on the pitch and managed to win the European Cup with United in 1968 and was also named European Footballer of the Year in 1968. Apart from the Beatles, George Best was an iconic figure in the world. Known for his pace, acceleration, beating defenders with ease and being both footed were only a few of many attributes that George Best possessed as a Manchester United and a Northern Ireland player. However, Best had problems off the pitch too, mainly related to alcoholism, in which sadly led to his death.

Manchester United Have Not Made An Official Bid For Juan Mata

Manchester United haven’t made an official bid for Chelsea’s Spanish midfielder Juan Mata. But the club have not refused possible opportunities of bidding for Mata in the future.

Chelsea have put a price tag on Juan Mata, which exceeds £35 million. Senior figures at Manchester United have already claimed that United are not willing to meet the price valuation, which would make the transfer switch unlikely.

Rumors previously have suggested that Wayne Rooney will be heading in the opposite direction and can possibly be part of a swap deal to land Mata to United. But once again United manager Moyes has ruled out the possibility of Wayne Rooney joining rivals Chelsea.

Since the appointment of Jose Mourinho as manager, Juan Mata has struggled to find himself in the team sheet often and has not participated in any matches for Chelsea since New Years Day.

Mata, 25, joined Chelsea from Valencia in August 2011. The Spaniard has 32 caps for his country and was involved in the country’s triumphant success in the Euros and the World Cup.

Mata was also voted Chelsea’s player of the year in the past two seasons after helping the club win the FA Cup, Europa League and the Champions League.

 

Manchester United’s record signing is £30.75 million paid for Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov in 2008.

Samuel Eto’o Scores A Hat Trick To Earn Chelsea Victory Against Manchester United

Samuel Eto’o scored a hat trick as Chelsea cruised to victory against Manchester United. United started the game positively with the stats showing 77% of possession in favour of Manchester United.

But the bright start quickly changed as Samuel Eto’o scored the game’s opener after 17 minutes. The Cameroonian’s shot from the edge of the box went past David De Gea and found the back of the net, courtesy of a deflection off Michael Carrick.

Before the half time interval, the former Barcelona forward extended Chelsea’s lead with a tap in from the six yard box. Gary Cahill crossed the ball into the box and Eto’o pounced on as Chelsea went into half time with a 2-0 lead.

As the game restarted for the second half, Samuel Eto’o completed his hat trick and also gave Chelsea a 3-0 lead.

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HAT-TRICK HERO: Samuel Eto’o completes his hat-trick against Manchester United

Gary Cahill’s header was saved by De Gea and Eto’o was the quickest to react to put the ball into the back of the net.

Manchester United scored a consolation goal through Javier Hernandez. As Chelsea players were appealing offside, John Obi Mikel managed to play the Mexican forward onside as he slid the ball into the back of the net from two yards.

Manchester United lost Patrice Evra through injury and in the 90th minute lost Nemanja Vidic after a red card for fouling Eden Hazard.

United now sit 14 points behind league leaders Arsenal.