Manchester City star centre-back Martin Demichelis was red-carded in the 53rd minute of Tuesday's 2-0 Champions League loss to La Liga powerhouse Barcelona, which is a considerable setback for the Sky Blues.
Barca have a high-octane attack, and Demichelis' fate was sealed when he became tangled up with his opponent's primary catalyst in Argentine compatriot Lionel Messi. Manchester City's official Twitter account reported the news:
53. Red card for Martin Demichelis who brings down Messi. The Argentine out-stretched a leg but couldn't get there.— Manchester City FC (@MCFC) February 18, 2014
Below is a GIF of the play that led to Demichelis' dismissal from the pitch, courtesy of OffThePost.info's Rob Parker:
That led to a penalty that Messi converted, giving the Spanish visitors a 1-0 lead at the Etihad Stadium:
The fleet-footed Messi proved too quick for the 33-year-old veteran Demichelis, which compelled AFootballReport.com founder Eric Beard to weigh in on the situation:
Demichelis getting sent off because he couldn't catch Messi. Who saw that coming?— Eric Beard (@BeardEric) February 18, 2014
Demichelis' absence was detrimental not only because of his value to the City defence but also because it put his club down a man for the remainder of the match in this battle of world football titans.
The tackle was not all that malicious, but since Messi put in the spot-kick anyway, the desperate attempt to stop the prolific scorer seems all the more in vain and unnecessary.
Ian Herbert of the Independent criticized Demichelis for his poor play against Chelsea in a recent match and documented what the defender said before the game.
"My first role is at centre-back," said Demichelis. "But I played for six years at Bayern Munich as a holding midfielder so I feel comfortable in both positions."
Although he did not fare well in the aforementioned fixture, Demichelis was bouncing back with a considerably better showing on Tuesday, helping stifle Barcelona's offense in an early scoreless draw. The Daily Mirror's Ed Malyon provided his take on the situation as Barcelona scored the final goal in the 90th minute:
Football isn't always fair: Demichelis brilliant until his sending off, Dani Alves pretty poor and then pops up with the coffin nail.— Ed Malyon (@eaamalyon) February 18, 2014
It's difficult to know what to expect from Demichelis as he's on the back end of his career, but he played exceptionally well against Barca and left his side down a man facing a formidable opponent that couldn't be conquered—even at home. That can't sit well with manager Manuel Pelligrini, regardless of Demichelis' impact on the defence.
Demichelis' experience and ability to mentor should help City in any event as they pursue the English Premier League trophy for the 2013-14 season and embark on a hopeful triumph in the Champions League Despite his inconsistent form as of late, someone with Demichelis' seasoning should be an asset as City move forward after this difficult defeat.
But the grave error Demichelis made versus Barcelona in which he missed the ball and tackled Messi hurt his team and cost them dearly in what was otherwise a competitive, gritty match between two quality clubs.
The replay shows that this red card likely won't be taken off Demichelis' record, so it remains to be seen what his punishment is. What is certain is that he will have to sit out the next match, but the damage has already been done, because Manchester City faces a significant 0-2 disadvantage entering the second leg of this Champions League clash with Barcelona.