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¡A Cuartos!: FC Barcelona Sinks Manchester City, 1-0

In this column, Xoel Càrdenas gives you his take on FC Barcelona's 1-0 win over Manchester City in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League round-of-16 matchup. Xoel talks Leo Messi, Joe Hart, and more.

Messi is Priceless
Messi is Priceless
Michael Regan/Getty Images

FC Barcelona is on to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League, as El Blaugrana defeated Manchester City 1-0 in the second leg of their round-of-16 tie at the Camp Nou on Wednesday night. Barcelona wins 3-1 on aggregate.

Ivan Rakitic made it 1-0 in the 31st minute, as a flat-out dream of a pass by Lionel Messi found a wide-open Rakitić and the Croatian sensation scooped it over Joe Hart for the goal.

Messi continued his nutmeg spectacular against City. #MEGsi

Messi was so impressive, Pep Guardiola, who was at the Camp Nou for the first time in three years, couldn't contain his enthusiasm.

Luis Suarez nearly got a goal, but his shot over charging Hart slowly hit the far post and out in the 44th minute. Four yellow cards were given to City players on the night.

In the second half, Jordi Alba had an up-close shot saved by Hart in the 49th minute. Marc-Andre ter Stegen had a bizarre moment in the 57th minute, as he took the ball out of his goal lost the ball to Sergio Aguero. Fortunately for MAtS, Aguero and City couldn't do anything with the Barcelona goalkeeper's mistake.

A mad scramble for City in the 65th minute, as they had a great chance to get a goal, but nothing came from it. Unreal how they didn't get a goal. Yaya Touré received a standing ovation from the Camp Nou crowd as he was taken out of the game by Manuel Pellegrini. Yaya is still loved in Barcelona for what he did during his short time with the club.

A penalty was called for City in the 76th minute. Aguero stepped up, but Ter Stegen was there to deny the equalizer.

Marc-Andre has that Oliver Kahn passion and spirit. Good game by MAtS, overall.

Joe Hart continued his amazing performance on the night. The man was like a brick wall, stopping Luis Suarez, Neymar and Messi's shots. Hart was easily City's best player on the night and put on one of, if not, his best performances of his career.

FT: FC Barcelona 1-0 Manchester City

Barcelona advance to the quarterfinals!

Xoel's Take

Joey Wall

What an unbelievable performance by Joe Hart on the night. Simply unreal and, quite frankly, he deserves a pay raise for his performance alone. Hart saved City from a complete humiliation, as City could have easily suffered a 6-0 beat down and Manuel Pellegrini wouldn't have been able to fly back to Manchester. On Hart's last save on a Suarez shot, even Luis himself went up to Joe and gave him his deserved props.

When asked about Barcelona after the game, Joe Hart chuckled and simply said, "They're good."

Grande Hart! Great performance on the night. My respect.

Bartra > Mathieu

Next time, Luis Enrique needs to put in Marc Bartra at center back instead of opting for Jeremy Mathieu. The Frenchman was the weak link on the night, as he looked shaky and unsure of what to do at times on the pitch. Bartra has proven he can play well in important games. Put Bartra alongside Gerard Piqué and let them work together. Yes, I know they technically play the same position (right CB), but they've played together before and they will be fine. Besides, Lucho can't keep waiting for "the right time" to make Bartra a regular. The time is now.

Messi: Like a surgeon

What can we say about Lionel Messi's performance.

There are truly no words that can describe Leo.

Messi was brilliant against Manchester City. The Argentine dribbled his way around City's defenders, who had no answer for Leo. If it weren't for Joe Hart's unreal performance, Leo would've had a goal or two. Messi played from the right side and, like a world-class surgeon, cut through City with his nutmegs, dribbles, crosses and passes.

With the Clásico coming up, it was important that Messi not only dominated against Manchester City, but also head into the Real Madrid match looking sharp. Messi was on fire against City and against Real Madrid, Leo will look to get what he almost got but didn't get on Wednesday: goals.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>I may just quit watching football after Leo <a href="">#Messi</a> retires. Football will never be the same &amp; not worth watching. <a href="">#GreatestOfAllTime</a> <a href="">#D10S</a></p>&mdash; Xoel Càrdenas (@XoelCardenas) <a href="">March 18, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Lack of focus, at times

While we did see the best of Barcelona on several occasions against City, we also saw moments where Barça lost a bit of focus. The mad scramble on defense by Barcelona/City threat mid-second half showed how poorly this defense can be when they lose focus. Again, Mathieu was weak and Pique had to make the majority of clearances. There were some poor passes by Jordi Alba and Dani Alves as well.

There were a few times where Barcelona showed a bit of poor finishing on goal-scoring attempts, but I won't make a big deal out of it, as El Blaugrana had plenty of clean shots at goal that happened to be stopped by an amazing Joe Hart. As I said, the score line could've been 6-0 for Barcelona. Hopefully, Barça goals will rain in El Clásico.

Lastly, let me give credit to Javier Mascherano, who had an excellent night. As I mentioned in my column for Fox Deportes, el jefecito was the best, logical choice at CDM for the match for his intensity, toughness, and the obvious reason that it is his natural position.

Pep in da house

Perhaps the most talked about thing by Culés of the match was the fact that Pep Guardiola was in attendance. It marked the first time that the Barça legend was at the Camp Nou since he stepped down as FCB manager in 2012. As we saw during the match, Pep is still a fan and I'm sure there were moments he wishes he was still managing Messi and others. I'm sure he'd love to have Neymar and Luis Suarez as his players as well. Could Guardiola come back to FC Barcelona one day? That's a conversation for another day.

Pep Guardiola is forever a Culé.

Bevingut a casa, Pep!

Xoel's Final Word

Barcelona is back in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, as they eliminated Manchester City with a 1-0 win (3-1 on agg.) at the Camp Nou on Wednesday night.

El Blaugrana will learn which club it will face in the quarterfinals on Friday when the quarterfinal draw takes place.

On to quarterfinals!

Now, FC Barcelona and the entire football world turns its attention to Sunday, and El Clásico.


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