Mail: City's plan almost worked
- 19 February 2014 07:43
- Posted by @dclayton_mcfc
The morning after the night before and the post-mortem of City’s defeat to Barcelona has now been carried out.
Most journalists concentrate on the moment that changed the game and whether the referee was correct to award a penalty – Martin Demichelis’ red card was unanimously backed in the Press.
We’ll begin with Marti Keown’s verdict on the tactics the Blues employed. In his Daily Mail column, the former Arsenal star writes: “It was interesting to see Pellegrini play both Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov down the left. It was a clear sign of the respect he was showing to Barcelona.
With Dani Alves and Alexis Sanchez playing down that side, he wanted to make sure they stifled that threat and, until the last minute when Barca scored as City chased the game, they did well
So did the Swedish referee get the big decisions right? While City boss Manuel Pellegrini believes he didn’t, former ref Graham Poll believes he did.
Still with the Mail, Poll writes: “Barcelona’s penalty was rightly awarded. Perhaps referee Jonas Eriksson missed a foul by Sergio Busquets on Jesus Navas before the Barca attack, but these things happen in football.
“What cannot be disputed is that Demichelis fouled Lionel Messi fully in the knowledge that the Argentine was through and would most likely have scored. It was a clear red card.
“There was a question over the exact position of the foul. I was taught that experienced defenders make last ditch tackles knowing they are just outside the area.
“However, in my opinion contact continued until at least the line marking the penalty area and further, meaning awarding a penalty was a correct decision.
“If there is doubt then a referee should give it outside. You can’t guess a penalty. Eriksson must have been sure and if you look at the foul from the assistant referee’s position, he will have seen contact had occurred inside.”
Perhaps the Navas foul was missed? Considering what followed in the ensuing play, that may have been the key decision in what had been a close affair up to that point, rather than the Demichelis foul and dismissal.
In the Express, John Dillon believes Barca were good, but they weren’t as good as the team managed by their former coach Pep Guardiola.
Writes Dillon: “Put it this way. Ask Manchester City’s fans if it will be Barcelona or Bayern Munich who will win the Champions League and the prediction will be that German beer will flow in Lisbon in May
“There is a daunting task facing City in the Nou Camp now after Dani Alves late second goal finally enabled Barca to exploit the fact that they played against 10 men for half an hour.
“But it’s true. Reports of the demise of the grand Catalan caravan of delights have not been exaggerated. Barcelona are not what they were.
“There were glimpses of the old confident and masterful grandeur here; in the first 20 minutes and then again after the dismissal of Demichelis. There were still signs of that familiar, transfixing ability to pull opposition sides apart at the seams.
“For this night at least, though, it inspired merely respect rather than awe. Nothing in football lasts forever.”
An early goal for City in the return leg may well test out Dillon’s theory further…
- We have taken a massive 360 degree image of the fans at the match. From 8pm (GMT) Wednesday you’ll be able to tag yourself and enter competitions on www.mcfc.co.uk/cityfanpic