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Published on March 14th, 2014 | by Ian Cheeseman

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It might have been disappointing, but I’d regard it as a Heroic Failure

What a great trip, what a great fixture and how proud I felt to be a Blue, watching my team take on the mighty Barcelona in the Champions League.

The atmosphere in Catalunya was electric, every City fan I bumped into, as I strolled through the City, was optimistic and told me they were living the dream; me too.

I presented Blue Tuesday from a radio station in Barcelona, joined by the legend that is Tommy Booth, three Barcelona based Blues, plus a couple of travelling fans which included the owner of El Rincon de Rafa, a Spanish restaurant on Deansgate, (a big Blue) and his daughter Jasmine.

Pic of the gang on my night out‏

Pic of the gang on my night out‏

After the show Tommy persuaded me to join their night out, which I did for an hour or so. I particularly enjoyed meeting up with Gary Owen, notorious for his singing of City songs with the fans. I had a drink, just the one, before retiring for food and an early night, ready for my 23 hour match day. Up at 6:45, eventually getting to bed back home in the UK at 5:45. I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else, or doing anything else though.

Earlier on match day eve, I’d recorded a piece with four passionate City fans, all women, who were as optimistic as anyone, but very critical of the new Women’s section on mcfc.co.uk which they felt was patronising, with it’s section on recipes and tattoos for women. I’ve not seen the section they referred to, but I could feel their anger; a subject for discussion on another day.

Coffee time!

Coffee time!

On match day, after an early start on BBC Radio Manchester’s breakfast show, I had to checkout of my modestly priced hotel. No, I don’t stop with the team or the officials, but I have no complaints, I know how lucky I am to do the job I do.

Radio Manchester's Q&A with Shaun Goater

Radio Manchester’s Q&A with Shaun Goater

I walked down to the beach, in lovely sunshine (19c) and enjoyed a coffee with a group of fellow Blues, before heading back to La Ramblas.

After a spot of lunch with the family of City blogger Steven Allweis (View from a Blue – you should find it and read it) I met up with a group of City fans to host a Q&A with Shaun Goater, which went down very well, before heading off by taxi to the Nou Camp.

Me & Shaun getting ready for commentary at the Nou Camp

Me & Shaun getting ready for commentary at the Nou Camp

As far as the game is concerned, City matched Barcelona, had far more possession than they did in the first leg, and there were moments that overturning the 2-0 first leg deficit seemed a real possibility. The team looked strong, confident and classy and it ran through my mind several times, even while commentating, that this City team was just 2 or three players away from being more than a match for any team in the World. I think most fans have identified the left hand side of defence as a weaker area, and I can’t really argue with that, and the continuing injury problems, most notably to Sergio Aguero, are worrying. A Spanish journalist, who interviewed him after the game, told me he’d felt a hamstring tweak in the 3rd minute, as he’d chased Lionel Messi, but played on until half time, and although we didn’t know this at the time, his explosive mobility had been compromised.

The more I’ve seen of Vincent Kompany in recent games, the more he’s impressed me. He’s a huge character, a great leader and a magnificent player (as if you didn’t already know). Two Kompanys in central defence would be unpassable, in my opinion.

We all know what happened in the first leg, and although I’m not one to slag off referees, the officiating at the Nou Camp was poor, but both teams were effected by this.

4-1 on aggregate over the two legs was not a fair reflection of the ultimate outcome, but if we’re being honest, despite everything, Barca probably just deserved to win though, but only just.

City are very, very close to being up there with the very best.

There’ll be some pressure on the Blues now, possibly having to win all their remaining games to win the league, but this club is going in the right direction, and there’ll be many more Nou Camp nights to come, this one was just a taster.

On this occasion I’d sum up City’s performance as Heroic Failure – but there’ll be a next time…..

– Ian Cheeseman

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