Manchester City suffered a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Barcelona Wednesday evening in the Champions League at the Camp Nou. That sentence would seem commonplace whether the Blues manager was Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini, or as we’ve now learned, Pep Guardiola. The score might seem more embarrassing than the run of play actually went, but in the end City tried to fly close to the sun and their wings melted.
These player ratings were quite difficult, because other than a couple of standout negative performances, I thought City played quite well. An unfortunate slip for Fernandinho conceded the first, but when the team sheets came out I would have bit off my hand to only be down 1-0 at the half. City supporters should feel good after this game, I know that’s difficult to imagine after a 4-0 defeat, but there were a lot of positives to take from it.
During and immediately following the game it’s easy to see the sky as falling, but it most certainly isn't. City have played well in two straight games after the international break, which saw them play poorly in a few games leading up to it. So panic not City fans, being winless in four is bad but let this weekend's game against Southampton, arguably a must-win, determine your level of panic.
Below are our player ratings for Manchester City. Many of the Blues earned high marks and should be commended. Let us know your ratings and who you thought was City man of the match below!
Claudio Bravo: 4.0
A rough return to the Camp Nou for the Chilean goalkeeper. Despite the immense success he experienced on this ground, Claudio Bravo was unable to replicate that for Manchester City. The sad thing is he was playing well up until he committed a horrific handball and got himself sent off.
Pablo Zabaleta: 6.5
The injury bug has bitten the right-back position in Manchester City. With Bacary Sagna already out, it was up to Pablo Zabaleta to stop Neymar, and for the most part he did a good job. Committing a few hard tackles was always going to be in the gameplay, but Zaba dealt with the Brazilian well in the first half.
Nicolas Otamendi: 8.0 (City man of the match)
For my money, nobody in orange(?) played better than Nicolas Otamendi. Some of his challenges look last-ditch or rash, but when the lights were their brightest, the Argentinean stepped up and played one of his better games this season. Once Zabaleta went down, Nico stepped in at right-back and looked uncomfortable but composed at the same time.
John Stones: 7.0
On a night where City did make a few mistakes, Stones had one that led to a goal. However, other than that the Englishman contributed quite positively to City’s passing game. A lot of City supporters will wonder what could have been with that header just before the end of the first half, but it was a good run and positioning by Stones to get the chance in the first place.
Aleksander Kolarov: 6.5
It’s hard to be harsh on someone for failing to tackle the world’s greatest player, but Kolarov did his best and that wasn't good enough. I’m not sure any left-back in the world would stop Messi but Kolarov played well despite being tasked with the near impossible. It’s easy to see why Pep prefers Kolarov in the lineup, his ability to switch the play with long balls is astounding.
I’m going to let you finish Fernandinho, but Gerrard had one of the best slips of all time. But seriously, it was a really unfortunate error that lead to Barcelona’s opener and from that City were under pressure the rest of the game. Fernandinho rode the line all night, coming close to getting sent off, but playing well and tough despite a difficult offense to tame.
Raheem Sterling: 8.0
Another Englishman having a good game against one of Europe's giants? The rebirth of Raheem Sterling continued at the Camp Nou, though City supporters will remember some of Sterling’s best moment in Sky Blue came in Europe's premier competition last year. If anybody on City looked like creating a goal, it was number seven.
Despite his lack of out-and-out pace, Nolito is nearly undroppable in this team. He might be the smartest player in City’s squad at the moment, knowing when to press, when to back off, and where to position himself best to help his teammates out. His sneaky good dribbling led to some chances down the left, and Luis Enrique was familiar with Nolito’s skill opting to use Javier Mascherano at right-back to try and contain the Spaniard.
Ilkay Gundogan: 7.0
Another case of what if, Gundogan made a lovely move to beat the hobbled Gerard Piqué and probably should have scored, only to be denied by a wonderful Ter Stegen save. The good news is it looks like the German is starting to really settle in Sky Blue. His pressing on Barça defenders was good at worst and masterful at it’s best. Does the form of City’s midfield trio mean Agüero is permanently on the bench?
David Silva: 6.5
City’s resident magician found it tougher than usual tonight at the Camp Nou. Given very little time on the ball, Silva was constantly harassed by Iniesta and Busquets. City were always to have a tough time working through Barça’s exemplary midfield, but Silva struggled more than the others with it, especially as his was the link to the front three attackers.
Kevin De Bruyne: 6.5
The Belgian had a difficult first half, but started getting better service towards the end. Once City went down to ten men, his task was nearly impossible but once the sides were leveled he looked much better. Part of it was his dropping deeper and at times switching with David Silva that made the latter stages of the game more successful for the Belgian.
Willy Caballero: 7.0
Despite technically shipping three goals, the Argentine played well and maybe can only be faulted for Messi’s second. His marks are earned through his penalty save against Neymar though.
Gael Clichy: 6.5
Another defender who played well despite the scoreline, coming in for the injured Zabaleta and City had to completely shift the whole backline. That’s not really Clichy’s fault as he is a left-back, but Pep chose not to go with a like-for-like swap in Pablo Maffeo.
Sergio Agüero: 6.0
No real time to grade the Argentine here as he was brought on late in the contest, once the result was pretty much decided. It will be interesting to see if Kun retains his starting spot in the Premier League this weekend.
That’s our ratings. Despite the outcome, City really did play very well in a lot of areas. It’s the best 4-0 defeat I’ve ever seen, to be honest. The way City played Wednesday would beat almost any team in the world not named Barcelona, Bayern Munich, or Real Madrid. Being winless in four straight sucks, simple as that, and no doubt many City fans are having flashbacks to last season's October and November slide, but let’s see what happens this weekend in the Premier League, where City have an opponent they should see off. How this game goes might measure the height of the sky over Citizen’s heads come Monday morning.