Manchester City have not won a football match for the fourth time in a row, and this time it was a bad night at Camp Nou against Barcelona. The Catalans came away with a 4-0 victory thanks to three goals from Lionel Messi, and Pep Guardiola has a lot of work to do after what he saw in this game.
Both teams have similar philosophies, and they both tried to play the same way: high pressing, high intensity, possession, short passes, chance creation. Since both teams were looking for the same kind of game, it was a very even match, but the defenses stayed strong for the first 15 minutes. Until Lionel Messi cut open the City defense and took advantage of an unfortunate slip by Fernandinho to dribble past Claudio Bravo and score the opener.
Barça were ready to tear City apart, but Bravo made some important saves and kept the deficit at one. Then Alba and Piqué got injured, and Barça's defense suffered. City began to find spaces with their passing, and Ilkay Gundogan got very close to an equalizer, but met the strong hands of Ter Stegen. John Stones nearly tied the game in the 45th minute, but missed a clear header and Barça were lucky to escape the first half with a win.
City were in complete control of possession and were the better team in the initial minutes in the second half, but former Barça keeper Bravo made a ridiculous mistake trying to play out from the back, and then saved Luis Suárez' shot from outside the box and was sent off. The red card destroyed City, who were toothless from then on and were forced to defend until the end of the match.
It wasn't long before Leo Messi scored a fantastic goal to make it 2-0, and the game was over. The City defense then gave the ball to Suárez, who set up Messi for his third goal of the game, and it became too easy. Barça defender Mathieu was sent off late in the second half, but City were already dead. Neymar had a chance to score a penalty but Caballero saved it, but the Brazilian made up for it with a fantastic solo goal to end the annihilation.
In the end, the red card changed everything and Messi was Messi. And City need some work.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen | Mascherano, Piqué (Mathieu), Umtiti, Alba (Digne) | Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta (Gomes) | Messi, Suárez, Neymar
Goals: Messi (17', 61' 69'), Neymar (87')
Man City: Bravo | Zabaleta (Clichy), Stones, Otamendi, Kolarov | Fernandinho, Gundogan (Agüero), Silva | Sterling, De Bruyne, Nolito (Caballero)
1 - Guardiola's City is not ready for Europe yet, but it's quite good already
City were suprisingly good against the best team in football until the Bravo red card. Pep Ball needs time to be fully implemented, but we saw some good glimpses during the game. Lionel Messi proved to be the difference, but City went to the Camp Nou and held their ground for 50 minutes by playing very good football at times. That level of play is already good enough to win the Premier League, and with more time, Pep can make this team win in Europe sooner than we thought.
2 - Ilkay Gundogan is starting to settle in
The German was sensational in this game, bossing the midfield by himself at times and creating City's best chance in the first half. He displayed his abilities with and without the ball, and he was better than Barça's mighty midfield in some portions of the match, and to be better than three players is not easy. Gundogan suffered a bit in his first few games, but now he's delivering exactly what Guardiola wants him to deliver.
3 - Claudio Bravo is not helping Guardiola in the Joe Hart feud
Pep Guardiola sent Joe Hart packing because he wanted to get a goalkeeper able to play out from the back, but Bravo has not been good at that. He murdered City early in the second half when the team was playing bettern than Barça, and he is directly responsible for the result. Joe Hart supporters are laughing and crying at the same time, and maybe Pep has made a mistake. Maybe.