Barcelona 2-1 Manchester City: 6 Things We Learned
Barcelona are into the next round of the UEFA Champions League after seeing off visitors Manchester City 2-1 on Wednesday night. The English side put up a fight, but were no match for the quality of the Catalans.
In a game that was thrilling from start to finish, it was again the referee whom many will be talking about. Several calls went unnoticed while other issues arose as well. However, that should not take away from what fans got to see on display by the players.
Manchester City will now turn their attentions back to the English Premier League, while Barcelona will await their next European opponents. One thing is certain: It is going to be an exciting finish to the season for both clubs.
With all of that being said, let's take a look at six things we learned from the Camp Nou thriller.
All statistics are courtesy of WhoScored.com.
There Is No Replacing Victor Valdes
There is going to be a sad and difficult transition this summer when Victor Valdes leaves Barcelona to continue his career elsewhere. It may be nearly impossible to ever replace such an incredible keeper.
Valdes has constantly showed this season that his presence and quality cannot be overstated. The keeper made several key saves against Manchester City, including an unbelievable stop from a very dangerous header.
It is safe to say that Barcelona would not have won some of the games they have this season without Valdes in goal. His ability to make brilliant stops means he is a big part of every game, as he leads a inconsistent defense.
In truth, the fact of the matter goes well beyond this season alone. Barcelona have been bailed out by Valdes countless times over the last decade or so. His exit is going to be tough.
Matches like this one just go to show how important Valdes is to this club. Barcelona will find it extremely hard to replace the 32-year-old and may suffer in the future from watching him leave.
Both Sides Have to Finish Better
The match at the Camp Nou was one full of excitement. Both sides were creating chances and playing with pace, and fans even saw a lot of box-to-box action. However, the finishing was certainly disappointing on both sides.
Either side could have won this game just based off of chances that were created. Yet, shots hit the post while some were sent right at the keeper. Sometimes you just end up beating yourself.
There is a lot of season left for Barcelona and Manchester City. Both sides are currently involved in title races domestically, but if they want silverware they will have to be better finishers.
Now, there were three goals scored at the Camp Nou. But there was a lot of luck involved in all three strikes. If these two sides want to be successful and fight for titles, they can't rely on luck; rather, they must finish what they create themselves.
The Messi and Neymar Partnership Is Beginning to Flourish
Sadly, we haven't been able to see a lot of Lionel Messi and Neymar playing together. Injuries and other issues have caused the duo to have little time on the pitch together, which is only just now starting to change.
In the matches that they have been able to play together, their pairing has been phenomenal. Against Manchester City, fans really got to see the danger that Messi and Neymar can cause together.
The South American duo combined to win eight dribbles and get off five shots. Their ability to link up together caused a constant headache for City, and it was clear that they knew how to utilize space to help each other.
Messi and Neymar could have both scored several goals. Messi had a shot hit the post, but he was able to find the back of the net once. Neymar had a goal called back, but also beat the defense to get off a few chances.
When really analyzing the game it becomes clear that the chances these two stars had come from linking up with each other. If this is a sign of things to come, we can rest assured that, given more time, Messi and Neymar will become one of the most dangerous attacking duos in all of football.
Will This Season Be a Disappointment for Manchester City?
Just a few weeks ago everything was going right for Manchester City. After winning the Capital One Cup, there was talk of the side possibly lifting four trophies this season. All of that is over now.
The English club was recently eliminated from the FA Cup by Wigan and have now seen the Champions League exit door thanks to Barcelona.
To make matters worse, City currently find themselves fourth in the Premier League table trailing the top spot by nine points.
In the matter of about a week, Manchester City went from competing for four trophies to likely only lifting one at the end of the season. Seeing that Manuel Pellegrini was brought in to overcome City's problem of underachieving, this is certainly an interesting turn of events.
At the beginning of the year, City were sailing. The team was thrashing opponents and on track to do something great. Yet, with only three months to go, everything has fallen apart.
If the Capital One Cup turns out to be the only silverware City wins this year, which is likely the case, it will not been seen as a successful campaign. Is this season really a disappointment? How can City bounce back?
Barcelona Looked Their Best Again
Barcelona have been completely and totally inconsistent in 2014. The Catalans may win a match by six goals, only to be embarrassed in their next outing.
With the La Liga title race heating up, Barcelona's inconsistency problems have really started to take a toll. The Catalans are facing a very difficult end to the season and have no margin for error.
Luckily, fans got to see the very best of La Blaugrana against Manchester City. The Catalans played their style of brilliant football and were very sharp. This can only be a good sign for manager Tata Martino, though nothing is certain with this team.
The biggest problem for Barcelona is the fact that they are still alive and well both domestically and in Europe. Martino is going to have to rotate his players perfectly to get the best results when needed.
At this point it wouldn't be surprising to see Barcelona lose their weekend match due to a poor showing. But for now, fans can celebrate a thrilling victory over a top European rival.
The Referee Steals the Spotlight Again
The match at the Camp Nou was one of the most entertaining games of the season. Both teams played brave football and put each other to the test. Yet, after the final whistle blew, it was referee Stephane Lannoy who again stole all of the spotlight.
The referee left two penalties uncalled while also incorrectly calling back a goal that was ruled off. Pablo Zabaleta was also sent off for arguing a missed call that basically sealed City's fate. Sadly, this seems to be the trend.
Week after week there are major issues revolving around the officials. Missed calls, terrible cards and questionable decisions claim the headlines and are even starting to take away from the actual football.
It seems as though the issues are not going away any time soon. The problem has to be addressed soon before it gets out of control. I understand that referees are humans, but it's time that we got back to focusing on the actual play on the pitch.
What did you take away from Barcelona's victory? Are referees starting to become a serious issue? Leave your thoughts and comments below!