A game of same football ideology. Incredible hattrick. Class solo goal. Red Cards. Injuries and Missed Penalty.
The return of Pep Guardiola to Camp Nou with Manchester City just after 2 years with FC Bayern Munich and the result was same, yet another defeat to Pep. Guardiola is still searching for his first win against Barca in Camp Nou.
The game stated with a stunning pace and a high pressing line from both the teams, with one on one marking from Manchester City to Barca players. Even Stegen was high-pressed by İlkay Gündoğan. Barca started with a formation of 4-3-3 the usual style but with a surprise of Javier Mascherano as Right Back – Luis Enrique wanted to make sure that Kevin De Bruyne is highly marked, but Kevin De Bruyne starts as striker and Sergio Agüero on bench. Tactics was spot-on form Luis Enrique, the high pressing from ManC players was good but Stegen and back four of Barcelona was taking calculated rick to keep possession with safe and calculated passes, until Jordi Alba got him self injured in a burst of sprint to chase down Raheem. That was a big blow to Luis Enrique because Jordi was the only attacking full back in the starting 11. The first goal for Barca came from a blue moon run from Mascherano on right side, he got fouled but Messi picked the ball and pass it to Iniesta who was inside the box. The pass got intercepted but a “Steven Gerrard” slip from Fernandinho in front of Messi inside the box led to the first goal for Barca from Messi.
Second blow for Barca was Pique’s injury in 28th minute of first half. That was the moment when I got worried, with 3 French and a Argentinian defender with only one conventional non-pacy full back on left hand side…. will this effect the tactics from Luis Enrique…. will this cost us the game. The game continued with both sides missing goal scoring chances.
In my view, the first half was a 60-40 with 60 to Manchester City, they played good with high pressing and man to man marking in the midfield which stoped the fluency of Barca passes, Rakitić was out the picture in first half of the game except one missed goal scoring chance from header. Raheem had a nice game, won many one-to-one with Lucas and Mathieu and came close to scoring too. Nolito and Gundogan got open chance to score goal but both were saved by brilliant Stegen. The negative part, i think Manchester City missed many clear chances to score goal one or even two goals. Plus they were too stubborn to replicate Barca’s playing style that is playing from the Back that they were willing to take unnecessary risky chances against the MSN. For Barcelona, the positives were, the defence. The back 4 who never played together in a game before. Plus the movement of Neymar and Messi was helpful to provide protection to the back 4 by dropping deep and proving width so that midfielders and Suarez can attack. The negatives, injury of 2 keep players – two attacking mind defenders and the right back position played by Mascherano, because of that Messi was not getting enough supply and freedom to go forward.
Within 10 minutes of second half Bravo got Red card for handling the ball outside the box. That was game changing moment. In just 7 mins. Messi scored his second goal, from outside the box and yet another assist from Iniesta. Third goal for Barca was a bad backpass from Gundogan to Stone which was intercepted by Suarez and again the MSN mentality, Suarez passed the ball to Messi for his hattrick. The score was 3-0 to Barca, with 10 men Manchester City. A comfortable position for Barcelona and a favourable condition for Paco Alcácer to come out and play, who is still searching for his very first goal for Barcelona. A run from Raheem toward Barca’s box, one on one situation with Mathieu – foul – second yellow card and the game is now open and kinda even for both the sides reduced to 10 men. In 85th minute, we saw magic from Messi and Neymar…. Manchester City defence opened up, a foul on Messi from Kolarov inside box and penalty. Neymar steps-up to take penalty and missed. Another penalty missed by Barca, sometime it feels like they doing it purposely. Just in 2 mins, literally in 2 mins. Neymar scored a amazing solo goal. He picked the ball from Barca’s deep half and what a run pass Otamendi and left John Stone standing on one leg. The sudden chance of body movement or direction, crazy. what a Goal !!!
Magic from Neymar
In Second half, we saw two red card. a penalty saved. a hattrick. a amazing solo goal and a defender in rising. I was impressed by Umtiti, the low profile French centre back. He was good in everything. Air duel. Interception. Tackling. Ball Playing. Marking correct player at correct time. Movement.
Now the next match is in Etihad Stadium in 2 weeks time. A match to watch specially for Barcelona with injury to Pique and Jordi for 3 long weeks and red card to Mathieu it will be a huge challenge for Luis Enrique to give the prefect 11 starting line-up. But the good news will be return of Sergi Roberto. In the meantime, Sergio Agüero will get fit and back in action. For ManC it will be a challenge to stop MSN with 35 years old Willy Caballero. I would like to see few changes in Manchester City playing style. They trying too hard to replicate Barca playing style, which i don’t think by buying Barcelona players or Managerial staffs will chance. They need to find out there own playing style having Barcelona’s x-factor. Manchester City current playing style is good for EPL teams for then its a new kind of style. But for Barca they play the same style from age of 9. They know the way of Tiki-Taka and they know the limitation to it. With Barcelona, i think its time for Luis Enrique to rethink on Aleix Vidal situation. If not, time to spend some cash in winter transfer market for a decent right back.