|Barça players after the win against Man City|
FC Barcelona cruised past Manchester City in their third group C game of the 2016/2017 UEFA Champions League season as a hat-trick from Lionel Messi ensured that the Catalans saw off the English giants 4-0 to make it three wins from three and go top of the group.
Manchester City put up a fight, but everything crumbled after Claudio Bravo picked up a red card, making things three times easier for the hosts who also got reduced to ten men in the second half. Here are 5 lessons from the win.
FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED – BARÇA 4-0 MAN CITY
1. MANCHESTER CITY ARE A VERY GOOD TEAM
Credit where due, Manchester City came to Camp Nou and put up a very great performance, pressing high up the pitch and dominating in occasions. The game was at least an open one until Lionel Messi scored. Things became harder for them but they kept on pushing and had a very impressive first half. All was going well until Claudio Bravo’s red card and then everything got diminished.
They conceded two goals from a mistake and got a red, playing against Messi and Company. They’d have beaten any team playing like they did. Pep Guardiola is doing a great job cooking up something for the English side and when the adaptation process is over, City will become one crazy elite team. They will dominate English football.
2. BARÇA WON DESPITE NOT PLAYING A PERFECT GAME
Although it is not the perfect treat, it is a good thing Barça can beat big teams with a huge scoreline despite not dominating proceedings. The Catalans made their intentions known from the start, Luis Enrique played Mascherano as a defensive right-back and the other full back didn’t attack much. It was more of getting the result than dominating the game and it worked out for good. Pep Guardiola rested Aguero and played Kevin de Bruyne as a false 9 just to have more midfielders and control the domination, but with Messi, Suarez and Neymar up, you just can’t get it easy.
Barça weren’t so interested in dominance, just press, get the ball to Messi or Neymar and it’s done, that idea won the game. Not a perfect overall performance, but a perfect result even though it is deceptive.
3. SAMUEL UMTITI IS SOMETHING ELSE
Umtiti played like he’s been a Blaugrana for 64 years… every Man City attack that came to his side dropped to a halt.. his passing, calmness and composure was top draw and he unconsciously led the defence. He will end up being one of the best defenders in a short time. Great game.
4. LUCAS DIGNE IS A BLESSING
Came on for Jordi Alba after ten minutes and totally paused Manchester City’s right side, kept Raheem Sterling at bay and always shut down City’s press in the final third. His passing was precise and exquisite and he knew exactly what to do with Neymar above him: don’t attack much, let Ney do the attacking. He had a really great game and has proven so far this season he’s capable of giving Jordi Alba a tough fight for that Left Back spot.
5. MESSI, NEYMAR AND SUAREZ TRIO IS ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL
Barça knew all they had to do was to get Messi, Neymar and Suarez involved, defend well and it’s done. They did just that and it worked. City’s press and possession meant these three had limited touches but they always caused chaos every time they had the ball. Neymar terrorised Man City’s right side, Messi terrorised the entire defence, Suarez was a constant disturbance to their defence and did well to ease the game for Barça, forcing the red card off Claudio Bravo.
Barça were almost outplayed by Man City until Messi scored and things settled down, Barça then played with more calmness. Messi added two more with Suarez assisting one, won a penalty which Neymar missed but made amends for by scoring from a solo effort late one. MSN was the difference.