Former Barcelona midfielder Gaizka Mendieta believes Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar will be too much for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City when the two sides meet at Camp Nou on Wednesday.
The ex-Spain international was speaking exclusively to Goal as he travelled through the City meeting fans in a Nissan Leaf electric car.
And ahead of the pick of the UEFA Champions League group-stage clashes, Mendieta believes MSN will spoil Pep’s return to Catalonia.
“I think it will be a very open game, with lots of chances, and I don’t expect there to be a big difference between the sides, but and I expect Barcelona to win 2-0,” Mendieta said.
“Man City are an attack-minded team. They sometimes play just one holding midfielder and that is where Barcelona kills you, when Rakitic or Iniesta take control and Messi, Neymar and Suarez get between the lines.
"It is very difficult to defend against their mobility because you focus on one and then the other turns up.”
Mendieta is expecting a thrilling encounter, but went on to say that Barca’s ability to change their approach and hit teams on the counter-attack could prove decisive.
“We know both teams always have the highest percentage of possession but I think Luis Enrique has managed to adapt his team to also play on the counter.
“I am not sure Man City can cope without the ball for a long period of time… I think City will take control of possession and Barcelona, with their pace, will be more dangerous on the break.”
The former Valencia star, who spent the 2002–03 season at Camp Nou on loan from Lazio, went on to insist that Guardiola’s side would have to catch Barca on an off-day if they are to emerge with anything from the first of two back-to-back UCL meetings.
“If we are talking about two teams that will play 100% then it will be very difficult for City because, at 100%, Barcelona are very difficult to stop.
They have too many great individuals: Messi, Neymar, Suarez, Iniesta, Busquets… but that is the beauty of football, you just never know, and that is why we are looking forward to this game so much."