Martino: City an important opponent

Tata Martino has acknowledged Manchester City’s strength but also reflected that Barcelona will be expected to more than compete against them.

The two teams will meet in the Last 16 of the Champions League for a first ever competitive meeting, having been paired together in today’s draw.

“The draw is as expected and now we have to face what is in front of us,” Martino has reflected to reporters at today’s Press conference.

“Perhaps they also do not want to have been paired with Barca. What we have to do is arrive in February in good condition.

“It is important for us to have a high level of play and to sustain it.

“City score goals easily, I do not need to discover that. We want to play a good tie and of course, win.

“We must look at how the teams are in February, like if City continue as they are. I do not want to rush into making an analysis. Initially, they are an important opponent and they have very good players.

“To face Manuel Pellegrini? I have always said how I have followed Manuel’s work in South America and in Europe.

“He is perhaps one of the best Coaches in the world, so it gives me great satisfaction to face him.

“Who are favourites? What we do know is that Barcelona are required to win every competition and not to be deterred by any opponent.

“And now we have to face City. I do not know if we feel superior, but we have to fight to be the best.

“Is this a real test of Barca’s level? We could have avoided them in this stage and faced them in the next round, so it is better to have them now and to be ready.”

Martino was talking ahead of welcoming Cartagena to the Camp Nou tomorrow evening for the second leg of their Round of 32 Copa del Rey clash.

The Argentine was asked why he has named a strong, senior squad for the clash, even with the Catalans 4-1 up from the first leg.

“You have to play with the greatest respect and it is important to have played the last three games at a high level.

“My first choice is always to use players within the first team. To be clear, the decision was taken before the B team played yesterday [losing 3-1 to Murcia]. Pinto will play, exclusively.

“We have obviously had an improvement in the last few games, we have improved and certainly that has been our objective.

“Today I do not foresee many things that need to be improved like I had seen when we played against Ajax.

“On that basis we will continue to look to improve and we have been better in the last 20 days.”

Tags Cartagena Manchester City Martino