French midfielder Samir Nasri says a more experienced Manchester City will welcome Barcelona this year despite facing off against one of the two best players in world football in Lionel Messi.
The Frenchman, who has never beaten Barcelona in a knockout tie, knows that friendships will be put aside as City bid to progress in the Champions League after being drawn against the Catalan side for the second season in succession.
“I used to play against Barcelona with Arsenal in the Champions League and I just hope this time I’m going to go through for once because I always lost against Barcelona in this stage of the Champions League.
“We have a lot of Spanish players as well who are friends with them but tomorrow no-one will be friends because we will be trying to play the game and to win it.
“We want to beat Barcelona because we want to go as far as possible in the Champions League, it’s not because of revenge because every game has its own truth.” said Nasri.
City lost 2-0 in the same fixture at the Etihad last season, with Martin Demichelis sent off in the 53rd minute allowing Messi to open the scoring with a penalty while Dani Alves’ 90th minute goal gave City a mountain to climb in the second leg. Nasri insisted that City have learned from another year in the Champions League and would not be overawed by their opponents this time around.
“We respected them too much last year but at the same time we didn’t have enough experience to compete with a club like this with their history.
“They know how to deal with these kinds of games and they know how to win the Champions League.
“Last year was the first time we qualified from the group stage and it was too much of a big game for us and we weren’t ready yet.
“This year it’s totally different because we know what we are capable of and we will play the game, respecting them as a club but we won’t be scared. We will try to win it.”
While there is respect for the reputation and abilities of the Barcelona players, there is no doubt as to who Nasri rates as the best player in one of the teams that dominated La Liga for six or seven years: Lionel Messi who, along with Cristiano Ronaldo, has been one of the best players of his generation.
“I think Messi and Ronaldo play in their own galaxy and compete with each other. As for the rest, Luis Suarez and Neymar are at the same level as Sergio Aguero.
“When he’s fit and 100%, Sergio can lift the team and score goals. Only Messi and Ronaldo for me play in a different galaxy.”