Aguero warns City defence of Messi as team travels to face Barca

AgueroSergio Aguero has told Manchester City’s defence they will need to play the game of their lives to stop his pal Lionel Messi in the Nou Camp.

City head to Barcelona on Wednesday determined to go top of Group C as boss Pep Guardiola returns to the club where he first made his name – both as a player and as a coach.

But Messi’s return from a groin injury which has kept him out since September 21 makes it a real challenge, even if Guardiola and Aguero probably know his game better than anyone.

“Playing against Messi will be something special,” said Aguero, who plays alongside the Barca star for Argentina.

“We are the same nationality and we are friends too. For that reason I didn’t want to to get Barcelona in the draw but sometimes fate plays a part and there’s nothing you can do.”

“I know all about him and of course so does Guardiola – but then when it comes to Barcelona everybody in the world knows about all their players, so it doesn’t mean so much.”

“He will be difficult to stop, I know that from experience. All we can hope is that he has a bad day and our defence plays the game of its life. It’s that difficult because Leo is the best in the world.”

Aguero is not far off those heady heights, either, and will be going for a hat-trick of hat-tricks in the Champions League this season – having already bagged three against Monchengladbach and three more against Steaua Bucharest in a qualifying game.

The good news for City, too, is that two teams will make it out of Group C. So any kind of result in Spain could yet be the start of something special.

City went all the way to the semi-finals last year before a limp performance at the Bernabeu saw them go out eventually to Real Madrid. So now there is a steely determination at the Etihad to win the one trophy that has eluded them despite all the millions spent by owner Sheikh Mansour.

“The Champions League is our unfinished business,” insisted Aguero.

“We all want to win it. In the past we didn’t do well but last year was different and we must raise our game and give everything for our fans this year. We’ve made a good start, we want to continue.”

Considering Barca have already thrashed Celtic 7-0 in this year’s competition (while City were held to a 3-3 draw at Celtic Park) it’s fair to say Aguero & Co aren’t favourites to lift the trophy – or even to win Group C. But the Argentine insists it can happen.

He said: “We just want to concentrate on ourselves in this competition. It’s normal that Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern are the favourites to reach the final but there’s no reason why City cannot be there.

“Winning the Champions League would mean everything to us. It would be a dream come true and total madness for everyone if we did it.”

What will be fascinating to see for City fans is how Aguero develops under Guardiola, the man who unleashed Messi at the Nou Camp and developed him into the best player on the planet.

Already Guardiola has challenged his star striker to give him more than just goals – he wants to see high pressing and assists added to his game. And the 28-year-old is responding.

“I think I’m still improving,” said Aguero, who has now been in England for more than five years after arriving from Atletico Madrid for £38m in July, 2011. “I am a lot more experienced than before and things are going well this season.

“But I still think I can improve even more. I am always ambitious and I always want more. I want to be an even better player.”

 

 – AP

 

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