I am a fighter and I hope my team has the same approach: Hyypia
Sergio Aguero has a proven scoring record against Barcelona and the Manchester City forward may have a crucial role to play if his side are to upset the odds and reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time.
City trail 2-0 ahead of Wednesday’s last 16, second leg at the Nou Camp, a Lionel Messi penalty and a late Daniel Alves goal in Manchester last month putting the Spanish champions on the brink of their seventh consecutive appearance in the last eight of Europe’s elite club competition.
Aguero, who missed the first leg through injury, scored five goals in 10 La Liga games against Barca for Atletico Madrid between 2006 and 2011.
He has never tasted victory at the Nou Camp though in six visits but did score in a 1-1 draw in 2006-07.
“As always in important games the individual performance of players is key,” City coach Manuel Pellegrini, who has labelled Aguero the third best player in the world behind his Argentina team mate Messi and Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo.
“It’s difficult because they are a very good team with great players and that’s the most important thing,” Pellegrini added.
Only twice in Champions League history has a team recovered from a first-leg defeat at home to go through, Ajax Amsterdam achieving the feat in 1995-96 and Inter Milan following suit in 2010-11.
Both City and Barca, however, are coming into the match after surprise defeats.
“It was a strange game (at Valladolid), but we have to put it behind us now and not feel sorry for ourselves,” Barca’s Chile forward Alexis Sanchez said on Monday.
Bayer Leverkusen will resist the option of fielding a second-string team despite taking an almost insurmountable 4-0 deficit to Paris St Germain on Wednesday for their last-16 second leg.
“We cannot just throw this game away because otherwise we can go ahead and send the Under-23 team,” Leverkusen coach Sami Hyypia told reporters. “I am really looking forward to the game and every player should feel the same.”
The former Liverpool defender’s team have been struggling since the winter break, a German Cup exit to second division Kaiserslautern last month followed by three straight Bundesliga defeats.
“This is a challenge and we have to put in a good performance. I am a fighter and I hope my team has the same approach,” said Finn Hyypia.
Leverkusen are without midfielder Jens Hegeler who tore ankle ligaments in the 1-1 draw against Hanover 96 on Saturday and is out for the rest of the season.
PSG have been in rampant form since their first-leg rout, netting nine goals in three Ligue 1 outings.
Laurent Blanc’s side have won their last five matches in all competitions. Led by talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, they have scored 16 goals and conceded twice.
“We have many alternatives. When one player goes out, another comes in and it’s still the same rhythm, the same quality, and that is what a big team is about,” said Ibrahimovic. PSG will have striker Edinson Cavani back after he spent time in Uruguay dealing with a personal issue. The coach is especially keen to get more out of midfielder Marco Verratti.Reuters