Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

IT'S UNBELIEVABLE BUT WE'RE STRONGER NOW ; CHAMPIONS LEAGUE CITY V BARCELONA

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

IT'S UNBELIEVABLE BUT WE'RE STRONGER NOW ; CHAMPIONS LEAGUE CITY V BARCELONA

Article excerpt

CITY football director Txiki Begiristain believes City will be stronger than last year, when they face up to his old club Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League.

The Blues official reacted with a strong sense of deja vu when the Catalan aces came out of the hat for the second consecutive season in yesterday's draw.

But, 12 months on, Begiristain feels that City have strengthened in defence without losing any of their attacking edge.

Uefa have already rejigged the format of the group stages, after criticism that the seeding system was leading to too many repeat matches - partly brought on by City being drawn in the same group as Bayern Munich and CSKA Moscow for the second year running.

But, despite odds of 5-1 of getting Barca, it happened again in the knock-pened knock out stage.

Blues midfielder David Silva last week expressed his hope that City could avoid one of the Spanish teams, a hope that has now been dashed.

Begiristain reacted with incredulity, but still feels that City could go one better and beat Barcelona this time, after losing 4-1 on aggregate to them last season.

The former Barca player and executive travelled to Nyon in Switzerland for today's draw, along with head of communications Vicky Kloss.

And he was aghast at another bout of deja vu for the club, after they drew CSKA Moscow and Bayern Munich at the group stage for the second consecutive time.

But Begiristain feels City are now better equipped to take on the Catalan giants after losing 4-1 on aggregate to them in last season's competition.

"It's unbelievable. I didn't need to come, because every time it's the same!" said Begiristain after the draw was made.

"We met Bayern Munich and CSKA Moscow again in the group, and now we face Barcelona again.

"But we now have plenty of confidence because we have made it to the next round, after beating Bayern and then Roma away. …

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