Even Pep Guardiola will admit that tactics and technical ability don’t matter much when you make awful, awful mistakes.
Barcelona was gifted three beautiful scoring chances, and Lionel Messi converted all of them before Neymar tallied late in a 4-0 win over visiting Manchester City on Wednesday at the Camp Nou.
[ MORE: Match recap ]
That’s just the lead point from the three things that stand out from Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League group stage match.
Early half slip-ups cost City dearly
The biggest key to beating Barcelona is to limit mistakes, and Man City’s unlucky early error gifted the home side a goal.
Fernandinho has been so, so good in Pep Guardiola’s system, and sometimes form can take a hit simply from stepping on the wrong place at the wrong time.
The midfielder slipped on the slick turf just outside the penalty spot, and was unable to clear the ball. Even worse, the ball came to Lionel Messi. The world’s best player danced around Claudio Bravo and gave Barca the goal City would be chasing all afternoon.
The second error was as huge an error as you’ll see. Bravo helped his ex-mates out in a big, big way.
Coming way out of his area, Bravo played a short pass directly to Luis Suarez and was forced to take a red card by handling Suarez’s quick attempt to chip to lost goalkeeper.
[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]
City missing clinical touch
The weapons at Pep Guardiola’s disposal are many, and City really stuck with the hosts during a challenging first half.
But several balls found their way to the outside of the netting, and Kevin De Bruyne came oh-so-close to making it 1-1 just before halftime.
[ MORE: Arsenal’s Ozil leads UCL rout of Ludogorets ]
It was during a 10-minute period near the end of the first half that City really found some footing. Barca were nowhere near the ropes, but had appeared fairly mortal.
It’s during these times that the finish has to come, and it didn’t. Presumably this had to murder Sergio Aguero’s nerves as the fellow Argentine didn’t feature.
That’s not even to mention how poorly the defenders performed, especially young John Stones. He had another match to forget.
Speaking of clinical… MESSI
While the world’s best player didn’t have to work too hard to open the scoring (See: Thing No. 1), Lionel Messi made another show of class by making it 2-0 shortly after Bravo was sent off.
Cutting in from his right, Messi worked Fernandinho and belted a shot before Aleksandar Kolarov reacted. 2-0. It didn’t take long for it be 3-0, and who knows how much worse it would’ve gotten had Jeremy Mathieu not made an absurd challenge to put both teams down a man. Oh yeah, and Neymar missed a penalty as well.