Javier Mascherano has warned that Manchester City top scorer Sergio Aguero has the ability to “destroy” Barcelona and believes his fellow countryman is one of the world’s top five forwards.
Barcelona face City at the Nou Camp on Wednesday with a 2-0 lead after February’s first leg, which Aguero missed because of a hamstring injury. But the 26-goal striker is fit again and his Argentina teammate Mascherano, who could find himself charged with stopping his compatriot, is wary of the danger he possesses.
"Sergio is someone I know well and for me is one of the five best strikers in the world," Mascherano told a news conference on Tuesday. "Given space he is the type of player who can destroy you so we have to ensure he doesn't get that space and doesn't feel comfortable."
While Aguero has not scored in two appearances since recovering from injury, City have struck 122 times this season. And, as they need to score at least two more in the Nou Camp, Mascherano is predicting they will be particularly positive.
He added: "I think we are going to see Man City go all out to attack. That is the way they normally play and with the result they'll need to do that more than ever.”
Barcelona have lost three of their last six matches but Mascherano laughed off talk of decline.
He said: “It is March now, there are still about two months of the season left and we have a great chance of achieving great things. Wait until we are dead to kill us, but we are not dead yet.”