Manchester City tie more important than Clasico - Iniesta

AFP , Tuesday 17 Mar 2015

Andres Iniesta
Barcelona's Andres Iniesta attends a news conference at Joan Gamper training camp, near Barcelona, March 17 (Photo:m Reuters)

Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta believes his side's Champions League last 16 meeting with Manchester City is more important in the context of their season than a potentially decisive La Liga clash with Real Madrid on Sunday.

The Catalans come into the most important week of their season to date in fine form having won 16 of their last 17 games to move a point clear of Madrid at the top of La Liga and progress to the Copa de Rey final.

That run also included a 2-1 success in Manchester three weeks ago to make the four-time European champions strong favourites to progress to the last eight for an eighth consecutive season.

However, Iniesta insisted Barca can't get ahead of themselves with the likes of Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Yaya Toure posing a serious threat at the Camp Nou on Wednesday.

"The game tomorrow is perhaps even more important," Iniesta said on Tuesday.

"What better way is there to go into Sunday than having won, feeling good on the field and being closer to our objective in the Champions League.

"As a footballer you live in the moment once you enter the field and tomorrow is very, very important for us to achieve the objective we have in mind."

By contrast, City are attempting to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.

Despite spending hundreds of millions of pounds in the transfer market and winning two Premier League titles in the last three years, Manuel Pellegrini's men have consistently failed to make their mark on the European stage in recent seasons.

Yet, Iniesta is wary that there is no better stage to make a statement for the English champions than at the Camp Nou.

"I am not a City player so I can't say what has happened (in European games), but from afar my perception of them hasn't changed much. I see them as a very strong team with many great players and one that is difficult to beat."

Barca boss Luis Enrique echoed the words of his talented midfielder and is keen to play down the feeling of expectancy in the Catalan capital ahead of two huge games.

"It would be dangerous to take anything for granted from the result in the first-leg," said Enrique.

"We have to try to win the game and think about what we can do better than our opponent."

Enrique also confirmed that Spanish international Sergio Busquets will miss City's visit with his chances of recovering from a sprained ankle in time to face Madrid increasingly in doubt.

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