Published on February 25th, 2015 | by Daniel Cheeseman3
Manchester City 1-2 Barcelona | Daniel Cheeseman
“Have they learned nothing?”
I know that getting a result against Barcelona is asking a lot from any team, but I just find it incredible that City haven’t learnt a single lesson from playing the Catalans at the exact same stage, of the exact same competition just under a year ago.
You’d have thought that having a manager with almost 10 years experience in La Liga would’ve given us some sort of tactical advantage against Barcelona, but once again the Chilean’s line-up was a reflection of his naivety in Europe.
Knowing that we were going to be without Yaya for this game weeks in advance, I thought we’d be much better prepared for the inevitable onslaught that was going to come from Barcelona’s midfield; but boy was I wrong.
In the end it didn’t really matter that Yaya Toure wasn’t available for yesterday’s game, as the fact that the manager had set the team up in a 4-4-2 formation would have left any 2 midfielders in the world with too much to do against a side like Barcelona.
Leaving Fernandinho out of the starting 11 completely caught me off guard too, as I fully expected the Brazilian to be an automatic pick with Yaya being out, but for some unknown reason the manager decided to leave his £30m signing out of one of our most most important games of the season.
Another thing I always say is that playing David Silva or Samir Nasri out wide is a complete waste of time, as they always do their best work in the middle, and the fact that we started the game with 2 strikers who have a reputation for not tracking back just added insult to injury.
Unfortunately it was a case of too little too late when things started to improve in the second half, as by then the damage had already been done, and the only person who I think can take the blame for that is the manager.
I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw Pellegrini dramatically change his tactics mid-game, and it’s worrying to think that he never seems to have a plan B.
I can’t imagine someone like Jose Mourinho watching his team play like we did in the first half last night and not do anything about it, and if needs be I’m sure he’d make an early substitution in order to set things straight, but it seems that Manuel only believes in one style of play and doesn’t have the confidence to admit that he’s got his tactics or the team selection wrong.
At one point it did seem like City could snatch a lucky draw against Luis Enrique’s side, but Gael Clichy’s red card grinded all of our momentum to a complete halt just as we were building up a head of steam, and in the end I’m just glad that the scoreline stayed at 1-2 (thanks to a brilliant save from Hart to deny Messi’s penalty).
Upon reflection, I suppose a 1-2 loss to one of the best teams in the world is not that poor of a result, but the fact that I felt an overwhelming sense of Deja Vu from last year’s fixture at the Etihad shows that we’re still making the same old mistakes time and time again.
I heard lots of City players before the game saying things like “We won’t be scared of Barca this time around” and “We’re out for revenge”, but I saw absolutely no evidence of that on the pitch last night, and if anything they showed them even more respect than they did last time.
Sunday’s game against Liverpool is going to be another big test of City’s character, but I also see it as the perfect opportunity for the Blues to show that they can be ruthless against the top sides.
If we can get a good win at Anfield at the weekend it’ll definitely send out a message to the rest of the Premier League, and with several other tough games on the horizon it’s vital that we get some momentum going again!