Gerard Pique issues Man City warning
Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has warned Manchester City not to focus all their attention on trying to stop Lionel Messi when the two sides meet in the Champions League last 16.
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City welcome Barca to the Etihad Stadium for the first leg on Tuesday, before travelling to the Camp Nou for the return game on March 12.
And Pique, 27, feels Manuel Pellegrini’s side will have their work cut out trying to thwart the Catalan club’s attack, especially with Neymar returning to fitness after almost a month out on the sidelines with an ankle injury.
“[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,” Pique told the Telegraph.
“Everything was on Messi, with everyone trying to stop him. Now we have another way. Ok, if it’s not Messi’s day, we have Neymar, we have Pedro, we have Alexis [Sanchez], we have a lot of quality in the striker area, and I think that’s really good for the team.”
While Pique is confident in his side’s wealth of options going forward, he is also wary of City’s threat in the final third.
And the defender is not surprised at the way the free-scoring Premier League club have taken to life under Pellegrini, having witnessed the Chilean’s work during his time in La Liga.
“Pellegrini always liked to play like this. I remember when he was here in Spain with Malaga and Real [Madrid] before he always liked to play,” he said.
“I knew when he signed for City he would try to play like this. I think he has good quality players with David Silva, [Sergio] Aguero -- you know, they can have the ball, have the possession. They’re having a good season.”
One team who are not having such a good season is Pique’s former club Manchester United.
But despite the Red Devils’ poor start under David Moyes this term, the Spain international is sure they will soon be back to their best.
“They will. It’s a new coach, after nearly 30 years,” he said. “Sir Alex Ferguson had some players with him for 10 years and now they have to adapt. Then next season will be another year.
“Now it’s very different, it’s true [from when he was there]. The situation has changed. United are having a difficult time, and City, because of all the money they have, have a great, great team and are fighting for the league.”