Jesús Navas is bullish about the arrival of Barcelona and the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Xavi for Tuesday's Champions League meeting with Manchester City. "I reckon they won't be happy having to come here," he says. "They will find we are a really difficult team to play against and to beat. We are playing very well, creating chances scoring a lot of goals.

"We are full of confidence. The one thing we must do is play with high pressure and high tempo because they have some top-quality players."

The standout tie of the last-16 stage pits Manuel Pellegrini's fluid 116-goal machine against the aristocrats of the continent, a Barcelona outfit that has won two European Cups since 2009, boasts the four-times world player of the year in Messi, and the game's new superstar, Neymar, who arrived in a €57m (£46.6m) transfer from Santos last summer.

Yet the sense that the Catalan club is not quite the force it was is not discounted by Navas, who before his £14.9m move from Sevilla to City in June spent a decade playing against Barcelona.

"Maybe they don't play as well as three or four years ago, but that is normal – the rivals study the way you play and find a tactic to counteract your strengths. The cycles in football don't last forever. It's hard to say because they set the standards so high in the past," says the 28-year-old.

"It is very, very difficult to keep playing with that kind of style year in and year out. But, that said, they are top of La Liga and they are in the final of the Copa del Rey. It is always difficult to face Barcelona, they always have top-quality players. I remember playing so many times when I was at Seville. We knocked them out of the Copa del Rey once, so that's my main memory. I scored a header against them at home when we drew 1-1.

"We have been training hard and hopefully by preparing for this match well we can go through to the next round."

City's high-tempo attack is not dissimilar to Barcelona's. Yet it came unstuck in the 3-1 defeat handed them by Bayern Munich on their home patch during the group stage.

Navas dismisses this. "That wasn't one of our best performances," he says. "They scored very early on and that made things very difficult for us, although you have to bear in mind that in Munich [in the return match] we played very well after going behind and won [3-2] playing our own style of football. So I am confident we can beat Barcelona at home.

"The reality is that type of game has served us really well this season. It is a style that we particularly enjoy but it will be difficult to impose it on Barcelona because they also want a lot of the ball and it will be very intense on our side. Even the best teams have their weaknesses, and Barcelona struggle in set pieces and counterattacks, when they lose the ball in attacking positions."

Reports of Messi's demise are being proved hasty. The 26-year-old scored twice in Saturday's 6-0 dismantling of Rayo Vallencano to take him to a single-club La Liga record of 336 goals.

Of the how-to-halt-Messi conundrum, Navas says: "He is very difficult to stop. You have to put pressure on him, make sure you are close to him when he gets the ball and not let him create space."

While the 26-goal Sergio Agüero should be ruled out due to a hamstring injury, City have another 26-goal man, Álvaro Negredo. The Spaniard's muscle and pace makes him in the mould of a classic English centre-forward, and so he should pose Barça a different kind of problem.

Navas is familiar with the strengths of the "Beast of Vallecas" from their time together as club-mates in Spain. "We have known each other for a while both here and in Seville," he says. "We are working together every day here in England and are enjoying our football."

Navas has gradually found his groove in the hurly-burly of English football. "No, I haven't struggled. I have scored goals, made some assists. I think I've found it easier because a lot of players are attacking, getting into the box and making it easier for me," he says before warning that the contest with Barcelona will not be straightforward.

"The tie will not be decided on Tuesday, but in Barcelona [in the second leg]," Navas says. "It is 180 minutes. We have to put pressure on them, maintain the concentration at all times and take the chances."