City boss ready for Messi test

Manuel Pellegrini admits he has "never seen Lionel Messi play badly" ahead of Manchester City's Champions League clash with Barcelona.

Messi bagged a brace in Barcelona's 6-0 Primera Division home win over Rayo Vallecano on Saturday to take him to 228 La Liga goals in just 263 games.

Messi is also just six behind Raul's 71 in the all-time Champions League goalscorers list and heads into the first leg of their last-16 tie against City in superb form with five goals in his last three matches.

Pellegrini is hoping, for once, he under-performs at the Etihad.

"I have never seen Messi play badly. He's either excellent or great. We hope to face the worst Messi - not the great one," admitted the City boss.

"It is difficult to stop him, it is. Without doubt, it's very difficult because he's the top player of the world and he has a lot of different qualities.

"He has speed, good balance and a good finish. He's very important, but I don't think Barcelona is Messi.

"You can have a lot of other players who will also decide the game as well, so it's important to play as a team, defending and attacking."