Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Guardiola's Return to His Former Club Barca Is Not a Happy One

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Guardiola's Return to His Former Club Barca Is Not a Happy One

Article excerpt

BARCELONA 4 MANCHESTER CITY 0 LIONEL Messi scored a hat-trick as Manchester City were thrashed on a nightmare return to Barcelona for Pep Guardiola and Claudio Bravo.

Bravo, the goalkeeper controversially signed by Guardiola from Barca this season, was sent off for handling outside the area after blundering an attempt to play out from the back.

Messi, who had already scored one in a breathless Champions League Group C clash at the Nou Camp, took further advantage with two more and Neymar, after missing a penalty, added a late fourth.

Barca also finished the game with 10 men after Jeremy Mathieu - a 39th-minute substitute for the injured Gerard Pique - was dismissed for two bookings in quick succession.

It proved far from a happy homecoming for the revered Guardiola, who made a huge call before kick-off by leaving star striker Sergio Aguero on the bench.

His reasoning was he wanted more midfielders, presumably to combat Barcelona's attacking arsenal, but the tactic failed.

Instead, Kevin De Bruyne was deployed in the 'false nine' position Messi sometimes played under Guardiola at Barca.

City were given an early warning as Neymar weaved his way to the byline but his pull-back found noone.

In a lively start, City also broke as Raheem Sterling and David Silva exchanged passes but Marc-Andre ter Stegen dealt with the England man's cross.

The opening minutes were promising for City but Barca quickly overcame the early loss of Jordi Alba to injury and began to take a firm grip.

A quick break saw Luis Suarez slip in Neymar. John Stones cleared but Barca came back again with Messi combining with Andres Iniesta on a charge into the box.

Fernandinho slipped at an unfortunate moment and suddenly the ruthless Messi had all the space he needed he round Bravo and put Barca ahead.

Another chance went by as Ivan Rakitic headed a free-kick over but City could have been back level by the break as Nolito and Ilkay Gundogan forced saves out of Ter Stegen. …

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