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Manchester City 3-1 Barcelona, 2016 Champions League: 3 Things We Learned

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A few takeaways from an ugly defeat at the Etihad

Manchester City FC v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Barcelona have lost for the first in the Champions League this season, and it was an ugly loss. Manchester City dominated the Catalans in the second half and pulled of a fantastic 3-1 comeback victory thanks to a Pep Guardiola masterpiece of tactical brilliance, intensity and high pressing. Here's a few takeaways from what took place at Etihad Stadium:


1 - Barça didn't care as much as City

For Barça, a draw was enough. For City, as Pep Guardiola said, this was a final. And those two mentalities were in clear display on the pitch, especially in the second half. City fought like this was the last game they'd ever play, and Barça accepted the pressure and didn't try to do anything special when they went down 2-1, and were absolutely dead after the third goal. For a Luis Enrique team who prides itself on fighting for results (more on that later), there was very little pride. It didn't look like this game mattered too much. And that's not a good thing.

2 - Pep Guardiola made Luis Enrique look foolish

Lucho is a fantastic coach, but he was absolutely destroyed by Guardiola. Pep was always one step ahead of Enrique in terms of identifying what was going on and making corrections on the fly. The second half was a tactical destruction, with City imposing their counter attack and murdering Barça with the ball. Pep's pressing worked better than Lucho's, and while Guardiola took Busquets out of the game and forced plenty of mistakes, Lucho couldn't really do any damage with his pressing. It was a very underwhelming performance from the players, yes, but they didn't have a good platform to play football. They didn't have instructions other than "Press really high and give the ball to MSN", and that's a little bit of a problem. And it's not the first time, which is a concern.

3 - Barça are yet to play really good football this season

Like I said above, Lucho prides himself on teaching his players how to fight for a result, and how to rise above bad football to find a way to win despite not being as good as the team should be. That happened against Valencia, Gladbach, the first game against City, and a few other matches as well. But we're yet to see a truly remarkable performance from the team this season. The level of football Barça showcased during the 39-game unbeaten streak last season is yet to be achieved this term, and the good-looking victories are being replaced by the hard-fought ones, and while it's important to have hard-fought wins, this is not the kind of Barça we are used to watching.

The injuries play a part and some important players (Busquets, Rakitic, Suárez) are not in good form, but it's a little bit of worry to see a Barça team that used to play such amazing football not able to replicate that with a deeper, more talented squad. Barça are just fine, though, and there's no need to overreact — yet. The great performances and great wins will come, but they need to come fast, otherwise we'll suffer a lot this season.