The history of past UEFA Champions League winners gives you the insight needed to foreshadow the future champions. Since the format changed in 1992, the teams who have won the prestigious tournaments all had one thing in common: a decorated history in regards to titles procured.
Today’s match was expected to be a tight affair, but Barcelona was primarily chosen by most analysts as favorites. As strong as Manchester City’s domestic form has been, replicating those performances in Europe was always going to be a challenge.
The game began as an educational class in tiki-taka. Barcelona strung a staggering 141 passes in under 12 minutes, and it seemed as though City would be chasing ghosts for the remainder of the match. However, momentum changed as City began imposing their will for short periods during the first half.
Yaya Toure exposed the Catalans’ lack of physical stature in the midfield and their vulnerability on the counter. However, Barcelona was only a splitting pass away from taking the lead, and that’s what happened early in the second half. Jesus Navas took a page out of Barcelona’s book by diving in hopes of a call, which then led to the goal as Lionel Messi was tripped inside the penalty area by Martin Demichelis.
It didn’t surprise me that Demichelis was the culprit of that foul because he appeared shaky all game, giving the ball away needlessly on multiple occasions. Mauro Pellegrini bringing in Demichelis from Malaga left me dumbfounded as I’ve been critical of his irrational and comical defending on numerous occasions. The remainder of the match went in Barcelona’s favor as City was reduced to 10 men.
Apart from a few scares, the result was relatively comfortable for the Catalans.
Manchester now face a daunting and hopeless chance of winning the tie. Jose Mourinho said this is the “worst Barcelona team in years”, but they are still capable of turning big clubs into minions. Like Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea, Manchester City will struggle in Europe in the coming years.
Buying success only takes you so far because the foundation of one’s team must begin with homegrown players. Homegrown players bring an inherent dedication and passion to the club that can’t be rivaled by foreign players. Historically, big clubs have profited from youth teams tremendously, and City should take note.
Instead of overpaying for Edin Dzeko, keep Daniel Sturridge in the squad. Instead of bringing in Demichelis, give Micah Richards more of a chance to impress. All in all, Manchester City’s European hopes are likely over and if they also fail to Premiership or FA Cup, a restructuring of policy would be in their favor.