With less than a week to go until FC Barcelona resume their UEFA Champions League campaign, the build-up to their highly-anticipated clash with Manchester City has reached a fever-pitch, with the Premier League champions even starting a countdown on their official Twitter profile. Indeed, all signs suggest that we are in for a cracker of a tie, with both sides relatively confident of their chances of securing their progression to the quarter-finals.
Former players from both clubs have had their say on the match-up; just about everyone has an opinion, and well, sometimes that's not entirely a good thing. For instance, the Manchester Evening News released a poll asking their readers to determine the best combined starting XI from the Manchester City and FC Barcelona squads. Of course, given the readership of the Manchester Evening News, a little bias was to be expected towards City but even so, the final results came as a bit of a surprise to me at least.
Manchester City provide six representatives to Barcelona's five in this XI, who would line-up in a hypothetical 4-3-3 formation.
In goal, Joe Hart got the nod ahead of Claudio Bravo and Marc-Andre ter Stegen in spite of the fact that he has conceded nearly twice as many league goals as Bravo and shipped three more goals than ter Stegen in the UEFA Champions League group stage. But hey, maybe the logic is that it'd be harsh to blame Hart for the shortcomings of his defense?
Oh wait, the defense includes two more City players -- Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta. The inclusion of the Argentine full-back over Dani Alves isn't exactly surprising and is probably justified; but Kompany? The Belgian defender has made a number of high-profile errors this season alone and he's looked shaky, even against lower league opposition. Contrast that to the form of Javier Mascherano and well...it's a debatable pick.
Quite comically, Yaya Toure was chosen ahead of Sergio Busquets, even though Busquets benched the Ivorian during his stint in Catalunya. Factor in his poor performances in last season's tie between the two sides and again, it's an odd decision. The inclusion of David Silva ahead of Ivan Rakitic and Xavi is a little more understandable and is certainly one that could be argued either way, while few will have any qualms with the frontline of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Sergio Aguero.
But really, there are more Manchester City players than FC Barcelona players in this theoretical XI?
To quote Kent Brockman: "I've said it before, and I'll say it again: democracy simply doesn't work"
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