Barcelona are yet to drop points in the group stage of the Champions League this season, but it wasn't easy to pick up a 4-0 victory against Manchester City at Camp Nou, thanks to goals from Lionel Messi (3) and Neymar. Pep Guardiola and his men brought the fight to Barça but the Blaugrana came out from a tough game with a very important victory to nearly guarantee a place in the knockout stage.
Both teams have similar philosophies, and they both tried to play the same way: high pressing, high intensity, possession, short passes, chance creation. Since both teams were looking for the same kind of game, it was a very even match, but the defenses stayed strong for the first 15 minutes. Until Lionel Messi cut open the City defense and took advantage of an unfortunate slip by Fernandinho to dribble past Claudio Bravo and score the opener.
Barça were ready to tear City apart, but Bravo made some important saves and kept the deficit at one. Then Alba and Piqué got injured, and Barça's defense suffered. City began to find spaces with their passing, and Ilkay Gundogan got very close to an equalizer, but met the strong hands of Ter Stegen. John Stones nearly tied the game, but missed a clear header and Barça were lucky to escape.
At halftime, a very intense match that deserved a draw, but Messi made the difference.
City were in complete control of possession and were the better team in the initial minutes in the second half, but former Barça keeper Bravo made a ridiculous mistake trying to play out from the back, and then saved Luis Suárez' shot from outside the box and was sent off. The red card destroyed City, who were toothless from then on and were forced to defend until the end of the match.
Leo Messi made it 2-0 with a fantastic low effort just five minutes after the red card, and the game was done. City went forward searching for something, but Ter Stegen kept his clean sheet. Messi then scored a third goal, and it was definitely over. Mathieu tried to make things fun when he got sent off, but the Citizens were already dead. Messi won a penalty in the end, but Neymar missed it badly. The Brazilian made up for it with a spectacular solo goal, though, and Barça finished the annihilation.
In the end, a great victory for Barça, but a valiant effort from Pep's team. City will be really, really, really good one day. Just not right now.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen | Mascherano, Piqué (Mathieu), Umtiti, Alba (Digne) | Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta (Gomes) | Messi, Suárez, Neymar
Goals: Messi (17', 61' 69'), Neymar (89')
Man City: Bravo | Zabaleta (Clichy), Stones, Otamendi, Kolarov | Fernandinho, Gundogan (Agüero), Silva | Sterling, De Bruyne, Nolito (Caballero)