• Champions League

Martino: City not a mini-Barcelona

ESPN staff
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Martino sticking to principles

Barcelona coach Tata Martino has described Manchester City as one of the finest teams in the world and laughed off suggestions they are a "mini-Barcelona".

City, who have Spanish international stars David Silva, Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo among their ranks, have often been compared to Barcelona this season due to their attacking style of passing football.

Manuel Pellegrini's side have 117 goals across 40 games in all competitions this season, six more than Barcelona.

"I don't think City are a mini Barcelona or a mini any team," said Martino at his press conference ahead of the two sides' Champions League last-16 clash on Tuesday. "I think they are one of the greatest teams in the world.

"They have great Spanish players like [Jesus] Navas, who plays very vertically, [David] Silva who knows when to pass and when to cross.

"But it is not only Spanish players. They have great players from all over the world like [Yaya] Toure and Fernandinho."

Meanwhile, Gerard Pique, who has won the Champions League twice since returning to Barcelona from Manchester United in 2008 - with both victories coming against his former club - has admitted Barcelona do not quite have the same aura of invincibility after going out in the semi-finals for the last two years.

He said: "I think that maybe they [opposition teams] don't fear us as before because in the last two years we did not win the Champions League but I think they still respect us.

"We are a team with a lot of players who won the World Cup and Champions Leagues, I think we can still be the best but we have to show to the world that we can do it. Tomorrow [Tuesday] is a great opportunity to show we are top players and can win here."

Despite United's slump this season, Pique insisted he would still rather join them than their local rivals.

"What do you think?" he said. "If I had to choose one, it would be United, but I am very happy in Barcelona, it is the club of my life and I am not thinking of leaving."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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