Treble still within Barca’s reach

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iol spt mar12 Barcelona Reuters Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano is still targeting a treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League despite the club's poor form of late. Picture: Nigel Roddis

Barcelona – Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano is still targeting a treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League despite the club's poor form of late.

The Catalans host Manchester City in the second leg of their last 16 tie in the Champions League on Wednesday holding a 2-0 lead from the first leg three weeks ago.

Gerardo Martino's men have also cruised into the final of the Copa del Rey, where they will face Real Madrid next month.

However, it has been more of a struggle for Barca in La Liga in 2014 as 13 dropped points in their last nine games has left them four points adrift of Madrid with 11 games remaining.

Both the players and the manager were subjected to heavy criticism after a 1-0 defeat to lowly Valladolid on Saturday, but Mascherano believes they still have the quality to succeed on all three fronts in the final few months on the season.

“They (critics) want us to believe that all is lost and it is not like that,” he said.

“The game against City is a good moment for us to show that.

“At the moment we have a chance of doing something great, so it's time to press the accelerator and give it our all.

“This team has won so much Ä it isn't an entirely different team Ä and it's a challenge for us to prove we are the same as we were.”

City also suffered an embarrassing defeat at the weekend as they were beaten for the second year in a row by Championship side Wigan in the FA Cup.

Defeat ended Manuel Pellegrini's side's bid for a historic domestic treble having already bagged the League Cup since they last faced Barcelona.

The English side can still make history at the Camp Nou, though, as they look to become the first side in the Champions League era to overturn a 2-0 first leg defeat at home.

City did manage to beat European champions Bayern Munich 3-2 on the road in the group stages back in December.

And goalkeeper Joe Hart believes they can take encouragement from that result.

“The tie is not over and we'll go into the game remembering what we've done this season, what we are capable of and I think that's how we have to look at it,” he told the club's website.

“A positive performance is key and a result would be fantastic, but we need to go out there and show we can really play against the likes of Barcelona.

“We've shown what we can do when we beat Bayern Munich away in December and while it's going to be tough, it's not impossible.”

Martin Demichelis is suspended as he was sent-off for bringing down compatriot Lionel Messi and conceding the penalty which Messi then converted to swing the tie firmly in Barca's favour at the Etihad, before Dani Alves added a late second.

“I felt we were there in the first leg, had sized them up and were ready to go, but stuff happens in big games and if you give a predator like Barcelona a sniff of blood unfortunately that's what happens,” added Hart.

“Martin was unfortunate and missed the ball by inches, but that can be the difference in games of this magnitude.”

City will at least be able to call on one of their most potent attacking weapons who missed out on the first leg through injury.

Sergio Aguero scored six times against Barca in his five seasons with Atletico Madrid and will return up front. – Sapa-AFP


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