Mar 12, 2014, 8:21 PM EDT
If Saturday’s loss at Real Valladolid instilled new doubts in Barcelona, Wednesday provided the antidote. Thanks to goals from Lionel Messi and Daniel Alves, the Spanish champions saw Manchester City out of UEFA Champions League, prevailing 4-1 (aggregate) in the Round of 16’s toughest matchup.
That accomplishment wasn’t lost on Gerardo Martino. Noting the difficult time Barcelona had leading up to today’s second leg, the Barcelona boss highlighted his team’s perseverance after their 2-1 win over visiting City.
“This clearly hasn’t been an easy week,” Martino said. “Tonight we faced the best rivals we could have been drawn against and a team who could have gone further in the tournament. The game was one that needed to be overcome.”
Perhaps, but Barcelona would have also gone through with a one-goal loss or a draw. They could have stumbled their way into the quarterfinals, had they carried over their weekend form.
Instead, the Blaugrana achieved an outright victory on Wednesday, albeit on that saw City end the match with 10 men.
“City played more of the game 11 against 11 and they were more dangerous then (the first leg),” Martino said. “[In the first leg] we played for what seemed like an age with a man advantage. This was a game in which both sides had chances.”
Barcelona’s chances forced City goalkeeper Joe Hart into seven saves, but with the Citizens electing to start with five midfielders, the home team didn’t maintain their usual monopoly of the ball. Come full-time, Barça has managed “only” 55 percent possession.
“We usually play with two forwards but against Barcelona, with such good midfield players, we thought we needed to reinforce the midfield” City assistant Rubén Cousillas said after the match. “I don’t think it would have changed the result.”
The tweak forced Martino to change his own approach, acknowledging more had to be sacrificed for Barcelona to maintain possession.
“Manchester City are not a team you want to be sharing possession with,” Martino explained, “and that’s why we played the way we did tonight. It’s probable that we will [continue] to play that way when we come up against sides who can work the ball around well.”
Perhaps the need to change reflects Barcelona’s new vulnerabilities. Or maybe it’s a function of Martino’s continued maturation into the job.
Regardless, Barcelona just finished 180 minutes against once of the world’s most talented teams with a 4-1 edge. We can nit-pick about how they went about their business, but where some were picking the Catalans to fall, they prevailed by three goals.
Sep 17, 2014, 5:12 PM EDT
What happened across Europe in the Champions League? Here’s a recap of all eight games.
Sep 17, 2014, 4:59 PM EDT
A solid outing by Chelsea but Jose Mourinho’s side will rue their lack of finishing in the final third.
Sep 17, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT
An impressive display from Roma who will fancy their chances of an upset against Manchester City and Bayern Munich in Group E.
Sep 17, 2014, 4:41 PM EDT
Boateng’s late volley hands Bayern win against stubborn City.
Sep 17, 2014, 4:07 PM EDT
Nothing like breaking your nose in the third minute and playing the full 90. Beast.
Sep 17, 2014, 3:33 PM EDT
Find out what’s going on around Europe as the group stage openers continue.
Sep 17, 2014, 2:59 PM EDT
The former Manchester United legend has had difficulty finding results for the troubled Welsh side.
Sep 17, 2014, 2:25 PM EDT
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Sep 17, 2014, 2:09 PM EDT
After a hot start to their Premier League campaign, Aston Villa has extended Paul Lambert’s contract until June of 2018.
Sep 17, 2014, 1:20 PM EDT
On this day 14 years ago, Barcelona signed Lionel Messi. The rest is history.
Sep 17, 2014, 12:35 PM EDT
European giants clash as Manchester City travels to Germany to take on the mighty Bayern squad.
Sep 17, 2014, 11:50 AM EDT
Check out full match highlights from Seattle’s 3-1 extra-time win over Philadelphia in the U.S. Open Cup Final.
Sep 17, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT
In this new edition of the Men In Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo explore Johnny Football’s favorite football team.
Sep 17, 2014, 10:50 AM EDT
Chelsea will look to open up their Champions League campaign with three points at Stamford Bridge.
Sep 17, 2014, 10:05 AM EDT
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Sep 17, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT
Liverpool is planning to expand at Anfield while Everton looks to build from the ground up.
Sep 17, 2014, 9:13 AM EDT
The Bayern Munich manager claims Manchester United didn’t have enough money to lure away star players from the German giants.
Sep 17, 2014, 8:23 AM EDT
The “Sack Pardew” movement has reached new heights at St. James’ Park.
Sep 17, 2014, 7:37 AM EDT
Manager Jose Mourinho believes the Belgian international will have a new deal in place at Stamford Bridge within a month.
Sep 16, 2014, 11:57 PM EDT
Maxi Urruti and Fabian Espindola both snatched braces as MLS sides went atop their groups.
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