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Barça's Martino relishing meeting with Pellegrini

Manuel Pellegrini called the draw with FC Barcelona "beautiful" while Blaugrana counterpart Gerardo Martino is relishing the test against the Manchester City FC tactician.

Background: Manchester City FC v FC Barcelona ©AFP/Getty Images

Manchester City FC are set for a "beautiful" UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie with FC Barcelona according to manager Manuel Pellegrini, who says the Catalan side will be worried about drawing the Group D runners-up, full of confidence after a matchday six win at FC Bayern München. City sporting director Txiki Begiristain is looking forward to the match-up between Argentinian international team-mates Lionel Messi and Sergio Agüero while Barça coach Gerardo Martino is relishing the tactical challenge of tackling Pellegrini. "I feel very satisfied to be facing him in this tie," he said. 

Manuel Pellegrini, Manchester City manager
I think it is a beautiful game. Two very good teams, we will see in February which arrives in the better moment. All 16 teams left are the best teams in Europe – Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atlético are the same for me, Dortmund and Paris as well. It is not only about those players [Lionel Messi and Sergio Agüero]. The two teams have top players, we will see who will play better in this round of the Champions League, but that is in February. We must first worry about this week and Saturday.

I think Barcelona will be very concerned that they have drawn us. They are not the team of two years ago. All teams in the Champions League are exactly the same. If you want to win something important, you must beat important teams. The Bayern München result has given us a lot of confidence. We are improving every day and we must continue to improve.

Txiki Begiristain, Manchester City sporting director
This is the first time we have been in this draw. It will be an enjoyable tie. It will be difficult given that we will be playing against an excellent team – a team of champions whose players have a great mentality. However, we are also doing very well and we are scoring a lot of goals which is filling us with confidence. We will be strong. 

We scored in Plzen, in Moscow, in Munich – it should give us confidence to play against a team who have been champions many times. Our manager knows Barcelona perfectly because he managed in Spain for a long time. In this sense, we are confident. I think the text messages will be flying between Manchester and Barcelona now, between Sergio [Agüero] and Lionel [Messi]. If you want to win the Champions League you have to beat the biggest teams, Barcelona are one of the biggest teams.

Gerardo Martino, Barcelona coach 
I imagine Manchester City weren't thrilled to have drawn Barcelona either. It's true that they have great players and are a big team. Our objective is to go into the tie in February in good form. In December a team you face could be playing in one way, while come February it could be another. It is very important for us to get through to the next round.

I have always been interested in [Manuel] Pellegrini's career both in Europe and before, when he was coaching in South America. He is one of the best coaches in the world. I feel very satisfied to be facing him in this tie.

Andoni Zubizarreta, Barcelona sporting director
This will be a great tie against several players we know well. It's two teams who attack very well and who have a lot of talent within their ranks, from the goalkeeping positions right through to the forwards. That's what will make these two games even more attractive.

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