Pitchside Europe

The great myth about Barcelona’s brilliance

Lionel Messi gets consoled by Didier Drogba after yet another Barcelona defeat at the hands of the English

Every English player, manager and fan performs a sharp intake of breath when they see Barcelona's name come up against them in a Champions League draw.

It's a understandable reaction: coming up against the universally-acclaimed best team of the past half a decade provokes an understandable mixture of excitement and dread.

Excitement, of course, at pitting yourselves against the best of the best on club football's biggest stage; and dread at the near-certainty that they will rip you to shreds.

There's only one tiny flaw in that argument. It's simply not true. Not even nearly.

Manchester City are the latest English side to come up against Barcelona in the Chamions League, and they can take great heart from a plain analysis of the facts.

For the plain fact is that Barcelona have only won four of their last 15 matches against Premier League sides. In the same period they've lost five of their games, and drawn six.

Hardly the all-conquering Catalans of popular imagination, then.

The fear of Barcelona appears to come from that eight-match unbeaten run in the Pep Guardiola era. But Guardiola is no longer Barca boss, and even then they only actually won half those matches.

What is more, all of those victories apart from the 2011 final against Manchester United have been on home turf; they have not managed to beat an English team on English soil since their last-16 match against Liverpool in 2007 - almost seven years ago.

And even on home turf, they've been far perfect: in fact, in the 22 Champions League and European Cup matches in which they've faced English teams (dating back to 1960), they've won only 12.

Not exactly untouchable, eh?

In fact, though we hold up Chelsea's 2012 defeat of Barcelona in the semi-finals as an aberration, it is in fact par for the course.

And with City having apparently ended their mini-blip by coolly dispatching Chelsea in the FA Cup on Saturday, there is every reason to think that Barcelona will once again fail.

If they do, then perhaps next year it'll be Barca who fear drawing an English team, rather than the other way round.

Barcelona's results against English sides in Champions League and European Cup