Manuel Pellegrini’s selection of Martin Demichelis for Manchester City‘s 0-2 Champions League loss to Barcelona was a major error and was asking for trouble. The 33-year-old Argentine has been City’s weak link all season. Their goal-scoring has been scintillating, but their strange inclusion and trust of Demichelis is their Achilles’ heel.
When I read his name on the team sheet before the Barcelona game, I wasn’t shocked as he’s been in their first team for the majority of the season, but I certainly knew what was coming. Against one of, if not the greatest players the game has ever seen, Lionel Messi, Demichelis was going to be extremely vulnerable.
To be fair to him, he played reasonably well for a large period of the game with the aid of his defensive midfield covering. But inevitably, it all imploded as he lunged desperately to stop Messi from having a clear effort at goal.
Demichelis has the turning speed of a cargo ship, and his best years well and truly behind him. So with all their wealth and hunger to spend on world-class players, why on earth does Pellegrini feel Demichelis is the best player to have in the heart of City’s defense?
If the answer is because of his experience, then the suicidal attempt to stop Messi now makes that argument redundant. Had Messi scored without the challenge, at least City would have had 11 men. At least they would have had a chance of fighting back. The red card only made things fatal.
Joleon Lescott would have been better suited for the match, and that says something. Lescott performed admirably in the FA Cup against Chelsea on Saturday, keeping a clean sheet and looking ready to step in when relied on. But inside the box or outside the box, Demichelis’ weakness of pace and decision-making was exploited once again and City paid for it.