Pablo Zabaleta in action during City's recent victory over Crystal Palace / PHOTO: MCFC.CO.UK

For the majority of football leagues in Europe the action takes a break during the Christmas and New Year Holidays. However, for Barça’s opponents in the last 16 of the Champions League, Manchester City, that is certainly not the case. As is tradition in the Premier League the matches come thick and fast during the festive period with Manuel Pellegrini’s side facing three important fixtures in the space of just 7 days.

The first challenge of the holidays for City comes on Boxing Day, the 26th of December. The current Premier League champions travel to the Hawthorns to take on a West Brom side who are just two points above the relegation zone. Just 48 hours later the ‘Citizens’ have a home fixture at the Etihad Stadium against a recently promoted Burnley side who are currently third from bottom in the table. Their final match of three festive fixtures comes on New Year’s Day, the 1st of January, also at home, with the visitors this time a Sunderland side who lost 1-4 at home to Manchester City in the league at the beginning of December.

3 wins out of 3 last season

The Christmas and New Year fixtures are considered a key point in the Premier League, a moment when candidates for the league title can strengthen their claim or suffer serious setbacks. On their way to claiming the Premier League title for the second time in three years last season, Manchester City took 9 points from a possible 9 over the festive period with wins over Crystal Palace, Swansea City and an important 2-1 victory on Boxing Day at home over a Liverpool side that contained current Barça striker Luis Suárez. Manuel Pellegrini’s side will be hoping for a similar return this season as they currently sit in 2nd place in the Premier League with 39 points, two behind leaders, Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea.

Manchester City’s games during Christmas and New Year

Friday 26th of December

West Brom v Manchester City 4:00PM (CET)

Sunday 28th of December

Manchester City v Burnley 4:00PM (CET)

Thursday 1st of January

Manchester City v Sunderland 4.00PM (CET)

Tradition in the English game

Matches during Christmas and New Year have been a tradition in English Football since its beginnings at the end of the 19th century. Up until 1965 there were even games on the 25th of December, however, nowadays matches are played on Boxing Day (26th of December) and two other dates over the holiday period.