Sports Mole previews Wednesday’s Club Friendlies 1 clash between Barcelona and Manchester City, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
In a special midweek encounter, football fans at Camp Nou will be treated to a top-class friendly as well Barcelona host Manchester City on Wednesday.
The match was organized to raise funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis research after ex-Barca goalkeeper Juan Carlos Unzuewho previously worked under the current City boss Pep Guardiola was diagnosed with the disease.
After a disappointing opening to their La Liga campaign, drawing Rayo Vallecano 0-0, Barca’s new-look attack took out their frustrations on Real Sociedad this weekend, winning 4-1, ending a four-match domestic drought without a goal or victory, dating back to at least season.
When Xavi took over from Ronald KoemanBarcelona were a team in shambles, sitting ninth in the table, losing four of their last six games under the soon to be new Dutch manager.
The former World Cup champion with Spain has an embarrassment of riches to call upon in the attack, and the expectations are that this team might be the only Spanish side capable of unseating Real Madrid for the La Liga crown.
In a short period of time Xavi has proven to be a pragmatic manager since returning to Barcelona, a club he helped capture eight Spanish league titles as a player, three with Guardiola as his coach.
The 42-year-old has also shown that he can adapt well to situations thrown his way in games, while making intelligent, tactical shifts to change his team’s fortunes.
Even though they have their share of star players, who have generated a lot of excitement among their fans, this is a team with a solid young nucleus of talent who should be able to learn a lot from the veterans who have entered the fray.
In six previous meetings against Man City, Barca have only lost once, winning all three matches played at the Camp Nou by a combined score of 7-1.
To no one’s surprise, Man City find themselves near the top of the table in the early part of the new Premier League campaign, unbeaten in their first three games, sitting even with the league leaders Arsenal in terms of goals scored (nine).
Heading into their Sunday fixture at St. James’ Park versus Newcastle, having won 27 of their last 28 matches when scoring first, it seemed like a formality that they’d maintain their 100% record this season when Ilkay Gundogan put them in front after five minutes.
The reigning two-time Premier League champions failed to maintain that momentum as the Magpies reacted well, going up 2-1 at the half, then taking a 3-1 lead before the hour mark when City finally woke up with a pair of goals four minutes apart, to collect a single point.
Overcoming setbacks has become an old habit for this team who on Sunday became only the fourth side in league history to avoid defeat in three straight EPL fixtures when falling behind by two goals.
The only other clubs to achieve that feat were Man United (October 1997), Liverpool (December 2008) and West Ham (April 2016).
With seven points so far, it is actually their best start to a Premier League campaign since 2019-20, when they obtained the same amount of points from their opening three fixtures but wound up second at the end of the season to Liverpool.
Guardiola has hinted that he will use players that need more game minutes this season when he returns to Catalonia to face the team he guided to two Champions League trophies as a manager, while also winning one as a player.
Barcelona Club Friendlies 1 form:
Barcelona form (all competitions):
Manchester City Club Friendlies 1 form:
Manchester City form (all competitions):
Robert Lewandowski scored one minute into their match against Real Sociedad, the fastest goal scored by a Barcelona player since Andres Iniesta tallied 43 seconds into one of their games back in 2009.
The 2021 Ballon d’Or winner had a brace on Sunday, while Ousmane Dembele and Ansu Fati each picked up their first of the campaign, with the Barca number 10 also adding two assists.
We saw a few new faces to the Barcelona starting 11 this weekend as well Frenkie de Jong replaced the suspended Sergio Busquets in midfield, while former Man City forward Ferran Torres began in an attacking midfield role, neither he nor Alejandro Balde replaced Raphinha and Jordi Alba.
Erling Haaland became the third player in Premier League history to score in each of his first two EPL away games, notching his third of the season for the Sky Blues this weekend, Kevin De Bruyne picked up his third assist of the campaign, meanwhile Bernardo Silvawho has been rumored for weeks to be on the move to Barca, had a goal and an assist.
Rodri and João Cancelo are first and second in the league regarding passes, Ederson has two clean sheets and Phil Foden became the youngest player to make 100 top-flight appearances under manager Pep Guardiola when he started on Sunday against Newcastle.
Ruben Dias replaced Nathan Ake after the Dutchman sustained an early injury against the Magpies, and John Stones made his first appearance of the season on Sunday.
Bernardo Silva started in place of Riyad Mahrez, Aymeric Laporte has an ACL injury and new signing Sergio Gomez was on the substitutes bench.
Barcelona possible starting lineup:
pen; Garcia, Pique, Alba; Kessie, Gavi; Roberto, Torres, Pjanic, Dembele; Braithwaite
Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ortega; Gomez, Stones, Dias, Lewis; Palmer, Phillips, Grealish; Foden, Alvarez, Mahrez
We say: Barcelona 1-1 Manchester City
These are arguably two of the most talented European squads on paper but given that this game does not count for anything, we expect to see a cagey affair between two teams with high expectations both domestically and in Europe this season, who will each want to pace themselves with so many matches left to be played.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.