First this is not the worst Barcelona side in years. It is a good side that is developing quickly. Barca moved the ball very well. I felt like I was watching a rondo drill inside a Champions League Game. I have been studying the Barcelona training system for some time now, which made watching the game today even more enjoyable. Seeing the ball circulate, the triangles being formed and the forward passing in tight areas when it didn’t seem possible was awesome. However, Barca was not dominate enough in the attacking third. They were a little off in their rhythm and timing in front of goal. I got the feeling with a little more improvement they could have scored more goals. The possession play of Barcelona relies of coordinated collective timed movement, proper positioning of players off the ball in possession, technical proficiency, speed of thought and quickness of play. Once Barcelona is working completely together they are one of the hardest teams in the world to beat. City can beat Barcelona but not with the line-up they put on the field today. Demicheles will never be ready to play against Barcelona. He severely lacks the pace and mobility required to deal with the quickness of the Barca players (never mind Messi). He is not calm under pressure and gives the ball away far to much for my liking. Lescott is a much better player then Demicheles and makes me wonder what the manager was thinking. Kolarov is the next player on City I find to be suspect when he has to deal with pace and quickness. He should not start against technical, possession oriented fast teams. City do have some great players that could easily fit into a squad like Barcelona. Nasri, Silva, Negredo, Navas, Aguero, Kompany, Zabaleta and Toure can all play on any top team in the world. A healthy Man City and now its game on. However, if City leave a few weak links on the field Barca will exploit them. Micah Richards is waisting away on the bench when he could have done a much better job than Demicheles. I have not even addressed Joe Hart yet. He is another discussion. In short, Joe Hart is not a Man City Keeper. They need a big time keeper. I like Joe Hart but he is not a top three keeper.
The bigger picture here is the development system at the two clubs. Barcelona has a system of play with players specially developed and recruited for the system. City are hired guns who take orders from the high paid manager who is the flavor of the month. No disrespect intended. There is no doubt City can achieve a result eventually against Barca but not on a consistent basis. Barcelona are to good. Teams that have over 65% possession are more likely to win. Teams with the highest passing accuracy are more likely to win. There will always be exceptions to the rule but Barcelona had more possession and their passing accuracy was much better. Barca will always win more games if the statistics stay the same. The statistics are the statistics because of the Barcelona developmental system and central coaching philosophy. Coaches can come and go but the central philosophy of the club stays the same.
I enjoyed the game and can’t wait for the second leg! If you want to learn more about “Rondo” used by Barcelona click on “Buy My Books” and get a copy of my new book “The Science of Rondo” – available on Amazon. Professional Passing Patterns is also available on amazon as well.