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Manchester City v Barcelona: What went wrong for Pellegrini

by BillyThomas95
Feb 23, 2014 5:54 PM GMT



In the wake of a devastating week for English football, following the straightforward dismantlement of Manchester City and Arsenal's defences at the hands of colossal outfits FC Barcelona and FC Bayern Munich, many questions about the state of English football are left unanswered.

The fact of the matter is that both sides paid the price for making reckless defensive mistakes and altering their style of play to suit their opposition. In Manchester City's case for example, I was not surprised by Manuel Pellegrini's decision to play a 4-5-1 formation, especially considering that given the opportunity Messrs Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas would control possession for the full 90 minutes; however seeing as this would inevitably have been the case I feel as though City would have found sticking to their very successful 4-4-2 formation more beneficial. With Barcelona's obvious Achilles heel being their lack of physical presence and aerial ability, it was surprising that Pellegrini didn't play to this strength predominantly. Not to take anything away from Manchester City's footballing ability, they have been nigh on unplayable at times this season, particularly at the Etihad which has become something of a fortress under the Chilean, but history has shown that if you have an advantage over Barcelona in any department it would be wise to use it as the Catalan giants are second to none when it comes to most attributes.

Given that this was the case, in the absence of Argentinian assassin Sergio 'Kun' Aguero, and given that Edin Dzeko has recently dipped in form (one goal in five games), it would have been interesting to see how 6ft1" Stefan Jovetic would've shaped up against the pint sized pit-bull Javier Mascherano. The sky blues looked a threat from set pieces and it was a shame to see them change their fantastic flowing style of football for a more rigid formal structure designed to stifle Barcelona.

City's defensive frailties have been well documented this season, and they were epitomised by Martin Demichelis' desperate lunge to drag down Messi in the 52nd minute. Although replays have led to scepticism about whether or not the challenge was in the box or not, there was no doubt that the challenge deserved a straight red card for denying Messi a one on one with the keeper, which generally results in Barcelona extending their lead. The decision to start Demichelis was one that puzzled me going on the back of his performances so far this season. His vast European experience was an obvious decisive factor in Pellegrini's decision, coupled with the fact that he displayed strong performances during Malaga's impressive European run last season; however the veteran looked far past his best against his magician Argentinian counterpart Messi, although currently faced with selection problems in the central defensive area, I think that Lescott would've proved a more shrewd appointment.
City are now faced with the uphill struggle of going to the Nou Camp and sealing a win with a three goal advantage which now seems a very unrealistic feat; proving another poor showing on the European stage for City.