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Zabaleta fired up for Champions League date with old friend Messi

Dec 16, 2013, 2:38 PM EDT

Pablo Zabaleta is a dynamic defender, the type a team needs in any attempt to win a two-legged UEFA Champions League match-up with FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi. So it bodes well for Manchester City fans that their diminutive back is excited to face his countrymate and old friend.

“I played against Lionel for Espanyol against Barcelona and I recall in my second season at City when we played in the Nou Camp in the Joan Gamper Trophy against Barcelona and we won 1-0 with a goal from Martin Petrov so I think we’re about level at the moment,” Zabaleta said to www.mcfc.com.

“When we were in Barcelona we were very close friends because we were living in the same city and we had known each other for a number of years.”

source: Getty ImagesBarca and City have never squared off in European competition, a fact that should have Blaugrana boss Tata Martino extra wary of the tie with arguably the top unseeded side remaining.

“[It is a] tough draw, but I think they will think the same. It’ll be crucial to be at our best in February. Manuel [Pellegrini] is one of the best coaches in the world [and] City score very easily. It’s too early for an analysis now though.”

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