Manchester City 0-2 Barcelona – “Things got a bit Messi, but it was a good test”
They might have had a man sent off, had only 32% possession and conceded 2 away goals, but the Blues should be very proud of themselves after last night’s performance.
The fans most definitely did their bit, the teams came out engulfed by a mosaic that ran around the entire stadium with the theme of ‘blue moon’, and they sung their hearts out like it was a cup final – but in the end it’s down to the players to bring home the bacon.
It was inevitable that Barcelona were going to dominate possession – they do that against every team they play – so it was important that the Blues were as effective as possible with the ball once they had it, which they did to a certain extent, but it was a game that was crying out for a moment of magic.
Anyone could see that City were missing Aguero. The little Argentine has the ability to turn games around instantly with a goal out of nothing, but with him out through injury, someone else had to show up. But nobody really did.
Although Alvaro Negredo worked really hard and created a couple of half-chances, he never really posed a threat to Victor Valdes’ goal, which has happened quite a lot recently. Hopefully he will find his form again so that project: Premier League can kick back into gear.
Before the game I suggested that Jovetic and Nasri should start, simply because they are good at keeping possession and are both great dribblers of the ball. However, yesterday Pellegrini decided to play Kolarov and Navas, probably because he wanted to prevent Barcelona from controlling the wings – which it did. But, by doing that they allowed Barcelona to have 1 extra body in midfield, like Bayern Munich did when they came to the Etihad and controlled the game.
Manuel Pellegrini seemed rather rattled again after the game by saying in an interview that the UEFA officials were not up to standard, and that they were favouring Barcelona. He thought that there should have been a foul given on Jesus Navas in the build up to their first goal, and that Martin Demichelis’ challenge on Lionel Messi was outside the box. Even though he’ll just say that he’s giving his honest opinion, it looks like Mourinho’s mind games have worked to perfection, even if the Chilean denies it.
Having been to the game, and watched the TV highlights afterwards, I personally thought that it was the correct decision to give the penalty and the red card. It would have been very hard for the referee to see when the initial contact was made, and it was almost certain that Messi would have scored. It would have been very harsh not to have given the penalty, given the circumstances.
Anyway, I think that its wrong to put all of the blame on the referees – you could argue that they had an important decision given against them when Pique’s goal was ruled offside, when it clearly wasn’t, so in the end both teams had decisions given against them, but Barcelona were the better team overall and deserved to win the game.
As unlikely as it is, I still think that City have a chance of causing a major upset at the Nou Camp, given we score the first goal. The goals that City conceded at the Etihad were self inflicted – one came from the spot, and the other was due to tired legs.
So if the Blues can learn from their mistakes and cause Barca some problems at the back (where they look weakest), who knows what could happen?
– Daniel Cheeseman