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Preview: Manchester City vs. Barnsley - prediction, team news, head-to-head

:Headline: Preview: Manchester City vs. Barnsley - prediction, team news, head-to-head:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Pre-Season Friendlies clash between Manchester City and Barnsley, including predictions, team news and head-to-head records.
Sports Mole

Manchester City continue their pre-season preparations on Saturday when they take on Barnsley in a behind-closed-doors friendly at the Academy Stadium.

Pep Guardiola's title winners eased to a 2-0 victory over Preston North End during their first exhibition game of the summer, while Barnsley's most recent encounter saw them draw 0-0 with Morecambe.

Match preview

Unless your name is Phil Foden, breaking into the Manchester City first team via the academy route is a monumental challenge, so it was refreshing to see a plethora of Guardiola's up-and-coming starlets handed opportunities to impress against Preston.

However, it would be a more familiar name in Riyad Mahrez who drew first blood in the 25th minute of that encounter before 18-year-old attacker Samuel Edozie made sure of the result, coming off the bench at half time to double his side's tally in a comfortable 2-0 success.

The Citizens were due to travel across the channel to face fellow City Football Group outfit Troyes this weekend, but with the coronavirus pandemic still raging and travel restrictions presenting barriers too difficult to overcome, Guardiola's side will instead stay at home to continue their preparations.

Saturday's game technically marks Man City's final pre-season encounter before their competitive campaign gets underway against Leicester City in the Community Shield, but Guardiola will return to Camp Nou later in August for a charity fixture against Barcelona, who will dearly hope to have Lionel Messi donning the Catalan colours after persistent links with Man City.

Bigger things ultimately came calling for Valerien Ismael, who led Barnsley to the unlikeliest of playoff positions last season, and Markus Schopp has some big boots to fill at Oakwell for the 2021-22 season.

The 47-year-old did oversee back-to-back wins over Rochdale and Sheffield Wednesday to kick the summer off on a high note, but last Friday's encounter against Morecambe saw the sides play out a drab goalless stalemate, despite the Tykes' dominance.

As is the case with their upcoming opponents Man City, Barnsley were instead due to renew hostilities with Watford on Saturday, but that fixture at Vicarage Road was cancelled entirely as Schopp's crop prepare to test their skills against the best of the best.

The showdown with the Premier League champions marks Barnsley's final pre-season encounter before they kick off Championship proceedings against Cardiff City on August 7, but it would take an extreme amount of mettle for the Tykes to finish the exhibition period unbeaten.

Manchester City Pre-Season Friendlies form:
  • W

Barnsley Pre-Season Friendlies form:
  • W
  • W
  • D

Team News

City remain without a hefty contingent of their international stars such as Ederson, John Stones, Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus - who reached the finals of their respective continental tournaments.

However, Guardiola was able to field a strong rearguard in their recent success over Preston, with Ruben Dias, Nathan Ake, Benjamin Mendy and Joao Cancelo all getting their feet on the turf.

Academy prospects such as Edozie and Cole Palmer should earn some more minutes, but up-and-coming full-back Yan Couto is thought to be edging closer towards a loan move to Celtic.

In contrast, Barnsley ought to field a lineup full of experience given that their league campaign begins one week after this friendly, and Schopp appears set to stick with the highly effective 3-4-3 from last term.

The likes of Cauley Woodrow, Callum Brittain and Marcel Ritzmaier could all feature from the off, but attacker Conor Chaplin recently completed a permanent move to Ipswich Town.

Head To Head

Man City and Barnsley have locked horns 34 times competitively down the years, with the Manchester outfit claiming 18 wins compared to a mere six for the Tykes.

Barnsley did win their opening game of the millennium against City 2-1 back in March 2000, but the reigning Premier League champions have since eased to four consecutive wins by an aggregate score of 20-2.

The 2012-13 season marks the most recent time that City and Barnsley did battle, with Carlos Tevez netting a hat-trick in a 5-0 FA Cup success for the team then managed by Roberto Mancini.

We say: Manchester City 1-0 Barnsley

With Barnsley set to name a near full-strength contingent while City continue to hand opportunities to their academy starlets, this could be a far closer affair than one may suggest.

However, Guardiola's side are still able to call upon a vastly experienced backline, and we can envisage the Manchester club getting over the line by the narrowest of margins.

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