Skip to main content

The FourFourTwo Preview: Man City vs Stoke

City's hopes of winning the UEFA Champions League for the first time look bleak after they were consigned to a 2-0 home defeat by Barcelona in the first leg of their last 16 tie on Wednesday.

Manuel Pellegrini's side will have to spring a major surprise in order to progress to the quarter-finals after the Catalan giants outclassed them at the Etihad Stadium.

City felt aggrieved with referee Jonas Eriksson after the Swedish official awarded a penalty rather than a free-kick outside the penalty area when Martin Demichelis upended Lionel Messi early in the second half.

The centre-back was sent off and Messi converted the spot-kick to put Barca in front, then Dani Alves added insult to injury with a second goal late on.

Pellegrini's men must put that disappointment behind them when the Premier League title races resumes this weekend and will fancy their chances of beating Mark Hughes' Stoke.

Third-placed City have won their last three home games without conceding and are nine games unbeaten against Saturday's opponents in all competitions. You have to go back to a 1-0 victory at Maine Road in 1997 for Stoke's last away success against the three-time champions of England.

Pellegrini's charges were impressive 2-0 winners over Chelsea in the FA Cup last weekend, but will be eager to get back on track in the top flight after picking up one point from their last two games following a defeat to Jose Mourinho's side and a draw at Norwich City.

Striker Sergio Aguero will be assessed ahead of the clash with Stoke as he closes in on a return from a hamstring injury.

Demichelis will be available as his suspension only applies to European matches, but Pellegrini could hand a recall to Joleon Lescott or Matija Nastasic providing the Serbia centre-back has recovered from a knee problem.

France midfielder Samir Nasri could make his first start since recovering from a knee injury that kept him out for just over a month.

Stoke make the short journey north without Oussama Assaidi after the on-loan winger sustained knee ligament damage in training on a recent training break to Dubai.

Robert Huth returned to full training in Dubai, but the game could come soon for the centre-back and on-loan striker John Guidetti is ineligible to face his parent club.

There is positive news on Andy Wilkinson and Matthew Etherington, who are both back in contention after recovering from injury.

Hughes' side are 14th in the table, just three points above the relegation zone and face a City team just three points behind leaders Chelsea with a game in hand.