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Rediff.com  » Sports » Champions League Analysis: Barcelona silence critics; City take positives

Champions League Analysis: Barcelona silence critics; City take positives

March 13, 2014 13:14 IST

Champions League Analysis: Barcelona silence critics; City take positives

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Lionel Messi struck to end Manchester City's dreams of a famous comeback as Barcelona beat Manchester City 2-1 at the Nou Camp on Wednesday to reach the Champions League quarter-finals 4-1 on aggregate.

Barca looked far from the classic team who lifted the trophy in 2009 and 2011 but a stuttering version under Gerardo Martino that had lost two of their last three games was still far too strong for the Premier League club.


Image: Lionel Messi of Barcelona celebrates after scoring the opening goal
Photographs: David Ramos/Getty Images

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Defends decision to start with one striker

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Manchester City assistant manager Ruben Cousillas defended the decision to start with one striker against Barcelona.

Trailing 2-0 from the first leg and with manager Manuel Pellegrini serving a touchline ban, Cousillas was the man calling the shots from the sideline with City chasing an unlikely victory.

The Premier League club created chances, but they lacked a killer instinct in front of goal as strikes from Lionel Messi and Dani Alves.


Image: From left, Ruben Cousillas the Manchester City assistant coach and Gerardo Martino the Barcelona manager direct their players
Photographs: David Ramos/Getty Images

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Gamble on Aguero's fitness failed

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It was no great surprise to see Manuel Pellegrini decide that Sergio Aguero should start a game. But the hamstring problems that have plagued the City striker of late did not to look have completely cleared up. The Argentinian was anonymous in the first half.

Pellegrini went for Aguero with the hope one flash of his devastating finishing would change the tie but it was a gamble that backfired. Aguero limped off injured at halftime and defender Pablo Zabaleta was sent off, but Cousillas was pleased with the team's display.


Image: Sergio Aguero of Manchester City reacts
Photographs: David Ramos/Getty Images

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Toure brought down to size

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Yaya Toure could not replicate his domestic form. And Barcelona’s Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets were to be blamed. It was their continued excellence that led to the Catalans feeling Toure was surplus to requirements when he was sold to City in 2010.

Toure had a point to prove to his former side and was given the central attacking midfield role he craved but the Ivorian could not do much.


Image: Barcelona's Lionel Messi, right, is embraced by Manchester City's Yaya Toure after their Champions League last 16 second leg match
Photographs: Gustau Nacarino/Reuters

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'Only the winners get remembered'

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Reaching the last 16 of the Champions League was the furthest City have ever gone in the competition and captain Vincent Kompany believes they will be better next season. But it is unlikely to be enough to appease their ambitious, deep-pocketed owners.

"We played a good game against a really good rival," Argentine Cousillas told reporters. "We had chances to get the first goal at nil-nil.

"In the second half we had three or four clear chances with just one striker, so you can't say if we'd played two strikers we'd have had the same chances.

"Sometimes you score and sometimes you don't. We tried, we had our chances and sometimes you can't convert them."

"Only the winners get remembered but it's only our third year ever for ManchesterCity in the Champions League," Kompany told Sky Sports.

"The way we have played means we should fear nobody next season and our time will come. It is a matter of time, every team gets its moment," the Belgium defender added.


Image: A dejected Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany, right.
Photographs: David Ramos/Getty Images

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