- Associated Press - Sunday, February 16, 2014

LONDON (AP) - Manchester City will finally find out whether its impressive record this season counts for anything against Europe’s finest attacking side.

City is hosting Barcelona in one of the most anticipated fixtures of this season’s Champions League as the lucrative tournament returns this week. Barcelona shares top place in the Spanish league with two other clubs after a 6-0 drubbing of Rayo Vallecano - its biggest win since the opening day of the season.

City warmed up with a convincing 2-0 win over Chelsea in the FA Cup.

City has been a free-scoring machine so far, netting 68 league goals, and will rely on its strikers’ appetite to unsettle a Barcelona team that has shown defensive frailties all season.

Also this week, Arsenal hosts holder Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain travels to Bayer Leverkusen and AC Milan faces Atletico at San Siro. Here are four things to know about this week’s round of 16 first leg action:


Facing Barcelona for the first time in a competitive match, Manchester City players will have been briefed by manager Manuel Pellegrini. But in case they don’t listen, Barca defender Gerard Pique has a message for them: the Catalan side will not be relying solely on Lionel Messi on Tuesday night.

With players like Brazilian striker Neymar, Alexis Sanchez and Pedro in the squad, Pique says his team has plenty of attacking options. “Everything was on Messi, with everyone trying to stop him. Now we have another way,” Pique was quoted as telling Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper. “Ok, if it’s not Messi’s day, we have Neymar, we have Pedro, we have Alexis, we have a lot of quality in the striker area, and I think that’s really good for the team.”



Arsenal has lost in the round of 16 in its last three Champions League campaigns and manager Arsene Wenger will need a good result against the holders on Wednesday if he wants to prove Jose Mourinho wrong. Referring to Arsenal’s trophy drought since 2005, the Chelsea coach taunted Wenger by describing him as a “specialist in failure” this week.

Wenger hit back both on and off the pitch on Sunday. His team advanced to the FA Cup sixth round with a 2-1 win over Liverpool, and the Frenchman claimed Mourinho had embarrassed Chelsea with his remarks.

Bayern, which is a commanding 16 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga, will be without France winger Franck Ribery and attacking midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri due to injuries.



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