Manchester City were taught a footballing lesson at the Etihad Stadium last night as goals from Lionel Messi and Dani Alves gave the Spanish side a 2-0 win and one foot in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Whilst City fans may begrudge the awarding of the penalty that led to the opening goal – with the offence by Martin Demichelis on Messi actually outside the box – they will have no complaints with the end result.
Though City - led by David Silva - were courageous and spirited in defeat, they were unable to influence the game prior to Demichelis’ sending-off, with Barcelona dictating the game and stifling the home side into their own half.
So dominant were they that it is hard to see any way back for City in the cauldron of the Nou Camp when the sides meet again in three weeks’ time.
The likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets rolled back the years in a vintage display that has sent ripples around world football.
Barcelona, surrounded by all the talk of being a side in decline, showed City what heights they must hit if they are to win the Champions League trophy and become a true superpower of the game.
Of the starting XI fielded by the visitors, just Alexis Sanchez and Jordi Alba do not boast Champions League winner’s medals.
For City, only Yaya Toure has lifted the prestigious trophy and that was from his time with the Spanish side.
Though Manuel Pellegrini’s men have bewitched and enchanted with their football this season, the elite of world football have taught them stark lessons that must be used beneficially in the long run.
They rallied to beat holders Bayern Munich 3-2 at the Allianz Arena in December, but were comfortably beaten 3-1 at home by the same opposition, whilst also falling to Chelsea just last month.
City have come a long way since their takeover in 2008. The fact that for the third time in three years they are in the competition is reflective of their growing prowess as they look to emulate neighbours Manchester United in building a dynasty to last for years to come.
They won the Premier League title in 2012 and the FA Cup a year earlier.
But the way Barcelona dominated on the European stage was a reminder they still have a long way to go yet if they are to become the biggest and best of them all.
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