Manchester City had their pants pulled down by Barcelona… what happened to the invincibles that won 10 straight?


THEY have all the gear. And no idea.

A swanky fashion label and a super suave coach who looks the business in his figure-hugging threads on the touchline.

Lionel Messi has scored six goals in two Champions League games and produced another incredible display

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Pep is in a tight squeeze now.

Was the golden era, the three La Liga titles and two European Cups, down to the Messiah? Or were they really down to Lionel Messi? Barcelona’s forward has the answers.

He scored a hat-trick, the 37th hat-trick of his Barca career- the three he scored last night, typically, inevitably, were majestic.

There is just something about him.

He scored once in the first half and two more after the dopey dismissal of Manchester City keeper Claudio Bravo.

Guardiola, the great Guardiola who seduced us all when he coached Barcelona and Bayern, has it all to do from here.

To prove that he was the man who really changed the face of football when he replaced Frank Rijkaard at the Nou Camp in 2008.

To convince an increasingly sceptical public that he can turn Manchester City into one of the game’s superpowers.

To prove that his words, his way, his methods, are superior to anything we have witnessed in the history of the sport.

To even get through this Champions League group. Good luck with all that.

Messi wheels away having put his old manager Pep Guardiola to the sword
Messi wheels away having put his old manager Pep Guardiola to the sword
Lionel Messi chips over Willy Caballero for his third
Messi chips over sub keeper Willy Caballero for his third
Bravo dives in the way of a Luis Suarez shot a full 10 yards outside his box
The hapless Claudio Bravo dives in the way of a Luis Suarez shot a full 10 yards outside his box

Manchester City, one billion pounds into Project Pep, are four without a win under the great man.
Guardiola’s homecoming hurt like hell.

The powers are fading and fading fast – has he been found out? It certainly looked like it last night.

There are very few players who have such a gift that they can dictate when they want their team to score.

Pele, Maradona, Cruyff, Platini are among them. Messi is another.

The bearded genius settled on minutes 17, 61 and 69.

Before that some shimmies, some feints, a darting run here or there, nothing special.

Just limbering up. Waiting to get going, waiting to stretch his legs.

The opening goal, mesmerisingly, happened in slow motion.

Drifting in from the right, all left foot, he drilled the lay-up into the feet of Andres Iniesta on the edge of the area.

Fernandinho’s studs slipped on the soft turf and then it turned into a training exercise for the magician.

One touch with his left boot, second touch with the outside of his left boot to take him around Claudio Bravo, third touch into the net.


Bravo would have been sick and tired of that happening to him time and again at Barcelona’s Joan Gamper training ground.

Here Messi did it for real, and it is 15 goals in 13 games against English opposition now.

Nobody can stop him. You can try, and you will fail.

Even Guardiola, with all those hours spent with him on the training ground, cannot find a solution.
At least his Barcelona clones tried to take the game to the Catalans.

To play them at their own game, to try to pick the pockets of Samuel Umtiti, Gerard Pique, or his replacement Jeremy Mathieu.

Never going to happen – Barcelona are too clever, too sharp, too good defensively.

Nolito, slicing in from the left during an impressive first half, had their two best chances.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Guardiola’s first choice to replace Joe Hart, came to their rescue with decent saves.

John Stones, decent enough at the back, saw a decent downward header flash wide of the post.

Barca play such risky stuff at the back, with ter Stegen playing sweeper keeper, that they invite trouble.

Somehow they always see it off, always somehow smothering the ball.

When Bravo was sent off eight minutes after the break for handling Suarez’s shot outside the area, Barcelona raised their game.

Sergio Aguero was stuck on the bench until the 79th minute when the game was already put to bed
Sergio Aguero was stuck on the bench until the 79th minute when the game was already put to bed
Aleksander Kolarov of Manchester City looks dejected at end of the match
Aleksander Kolarov of Manchester City looks dejected at end of the match
Pep Guardiola and his side have all the gear, but no idea
Pep Guardiola and his side have all the gear, but no idea

If there is one man in the Barca team that you do not want to lose possession to then it is Andres Iniesta.

That was Kevin de Bruyne’s mistake when he carelessly lost it to Iniesta just after hour.

Easy as you like he moved it on to Messi lurking on the edge of the area.

That drop of the shoulder, sending City’s defence out of the stadium, then he hit a low drive inside Willy Caballero’s near post.

He was not finished, and the third arrived when Suarez selflessly decided to square for Messi to complete his hat-trick with a tap in.

Even with the dismissal of Mathieu, sent off for a second booking after tripping Raheem Sterling, Barca went in search of more.

Neymar will know that he should have added another from the spot.

He had the chance four minutes from time after Aleksandr Kolarov tripped you-know-who as he made his way in on goal – no matter.

He got on the scoresheet a minute from time, dipping his shoulder twice to ghost past City’s non-existent defence.

The finish was sweet, clipping it beyond the body of Caballero to complete Barcelona’s performance.

What happened to the City team who won ten straight games at the start of the season and were feted as Invincibles?

They had their pants pulled down, that’s what.



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