Speaking ahead of his side’s Champions League last 16 first-leg fixture with Barcelona, Manchester City schemer Samir Nasri has identified Dani Alves as the Catalan club’s weakest link.
The Frenchman is quoted as saying:
“They (Barcelona) still have great players, but Dani Alves is not the Dani Alves of four or five years ago. We can hurt their defence.”
Just 12 months ago the Brazilian scored in both legs when Los Blaugrana felled the Citizens at this stage of the competition; who knows how brutal it could’ve been had they faced the Alves of yesteryear Nasri speaks of.
A free agent at the end of the campaign, the 31-year-old has often been linked with a move to his critic’s former club Arsenal, where his adventurous approach to full-back play is sure to be well-received.
Indeed, keeping up with the decorated defender as he marauds into City territory will be one of Nasri’s main responsibilities if he starts the match.
His failure to do so will have disastrous ramifications for their hopes of landing a 13/5-rated win.
If the hosts are to usurp the odds here – next to Barcelona’s 11/10 they’re clear underdogs – playing pragmatically may be the solution.
Jesus Navas’ directness would prove a lethal weapon on the counter attack, a set up which Manuel Pellegrini’s men are best advised to adopt in order to stop goals going in at the wrong end.
With Alves’ portside counterpart Jordi Alba equally eager to attack (both provide almost all of Barcelona’s width) the speedy Spaniard will be allowed plenty of space of which to accelerate into when the Premier League champions regain possession.
One of Nasri or David Silva will begin on the left, but neither are notably quick and their talents are best utilised drifting inside, meaning they’re unlikely to be as devastating as Navas when breaking at pace and, as a result, won’t be able to take advantage of Alves’ defensive deficiencies as effectively.
For those who fancy the Brazilian to bag again, he’s 7/1 to bag at anytime.