The night Pep’s men ar­rived

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

the in­no­va­tor now; that his is the side which is mov­ing on, leav­ing Guardi­ola strug­gling to har­monise with the same tune.

“With Luis (Suarez) maybe now we are a bit more ag­gres­sive when we at­tack at speed, whilst with Pep we used counter-at­tacks less,” Lionel Messi said ear­lier this week.

His goal was a metaphor for that: a counter-at­tack of maybe 20 sec­onds’ du­ra­tion, which Messi be­gan by block­ing a shot in his own penalty area, be­fore run­ning the length of the pitch to take back from Ney­mar and score.

From Barcelona, the metro­nomic, al­most cloy­ing, pass­ing – the “carousel” as Sir Alex Fer­gu­son called if af­ter Guardi­ola’s play­ers had passed Manch­ester United to death in the 2009 Cham­pi­ons League Cup fi­nal – has gone. But it is not needed with tri­dent of for­wards.

“Nearly un­stop­pable”, Guardi­ola had called the two wide mem­bers of that tri­umvi­rate – Ney­mar and Messi. When Ni­co­las Ota­mendi sur­ren­dered cheap pos­ses­sion, Ney­mar was bear­ing down on Willy Ca­ballero like a guided mis­sile. It took a very fine save to palm his shot away.

This slip was part of a broader prob­lem, as City’s at­tempts to match the Spa­niards’ pace bred er­rors. That same pace ini­tially made City’s for­wards look al­most slug­gish by com­par­i­son.

Aguero had a chance wide right to sup­ply a cross two min­utes af­ter Barcelona led and took what seemed an eter­nity to de­liver the cross which hit the first ob­sta­cle in its path, Sa­muel Umtiti.

Manch­ester City mid­fielder Ilkay Gun­do­gan (3rd left) cel­e­brates scor­ing his team’s third goal dur­ing yes­ter­day’s Cham­pi­ons League Group C match against Barcelona at the Eti­had Sta­dium. – AFPPIX

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