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Without Iniesta and Pique, Barcelona backups left exposed  Without Iniesta and Pique, Barcelona backups left exposed

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Metropolis’ supporters wave flags as Barcelona's Lionel Messi stands on the pitch after the Champions’ League group C soccer healthy between Manchester metropolis and Barcelona at the Etihad stadium in Manchester, England, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. Manchester metropolis defeated Barcelona via 3-1.

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — so long as Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique get match once more, Barcelona lovers should still have nothing to be troubled about.

The 3-1 loss at Manchester city on Tuesday showed that for all the scoring prowess of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, Barcelona's superstar forwards may also be left with heads hanging when the team's makeshift protection and midfield buckle below force.

And pressure is what former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola ordered metropolis to apply in big doses, principally in a 2nd half when they broke the steely control the Spanish champions perpetually hold even in opposition t the biggest opponents.

Barcelona turned into missing the injured Iniesta, Pique and first-choice left returned Jordi Alba. For Barcelona's devoted, that capability one dangerous suit isn't a cause of main issue just as a result of three of Barcelona's backups did not operate as well as its undisputed starters.

Simply look at the effect of their first meeting two weeks ago, when Messi scored a hat trick in a 4-0 rout. All three began that match, notwithstanding Pique and Alba needed to be substituted on account of damage.

But the loss at city does element out the place coach Luis Enrique must work with the team's more youthful players and newbies. That, or possibly relent on the club's now ingrained — and ingrained it turned into through Guardiola — insistence on using short passes to work the ball ahead even when under intense power from opposing defences.

"We performed forty awesome minutes with many scoring chances and simply in that second we make a key mistake," Luis Enrique pointed out. "We had 5 dangerous minutes and within the 2nd half we amassed an infinite number of passing errors. (The loss) was the influence of our rival's pressure and our blunders."

Every so often a game does seem to swing on one single pass.

Messi had put Barcelona on its strategy to a different victory with a goal from a counterattack led by way of Neymar. Later, Neymar and Suarez both went near adding greater desires.

but a flow from Sergi Roberto that went off course was pounced on with the aid of metropolis forward Sergio Aguero, sparking an elegant sequence of 1-contact passes that had been reminiscent of Guardiola's most suitable Barcelona aspects. The play was accomplished through Ilkay Gundogan for the equalizer in the thirty ninth minute.

It turned into all city the rest of the way, with Kevin de Bruyne knocking in a free kick earlier than Gundogan accomplished off an extra short build-up.

Guardiola knows Barcelona better than any rival, and it confirmed. City made goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen move brief with the aid of protecting his down-box alternatives, after which swarmed in numbers.

Barcelona received the possession battle with 60 p.c of the ball and in fact doubled city's passes (591 makes an attempt to city's 315). But lots of the motion become inside its own half, when every sideways flow was another opportunity metropolis needed to spring its trap. Guardiola's willingness to renounce the ball worked: metropolis produced 13 shots to Barcelona's eight.

Guardiola talked about he asked De Bruyne to notably assault Roberto, who had his worst healthy after a promising start to the season in his new position of right returned.

"We desired to move one-on-one towards Sergi Roberto," Guardiola noted. "Within the 2d half we have been extra compact, pressured higher up the pitch and moved in unison. If we had had enhanced completing we might have put the online game away past."

Offseason signings Lucas Digne and Andre Gomes didn't have first rate showings in place of Alba and Iniesta, both. Digne offered none of Alba's pace and struggled to keep up with Raheem Sterling, whereas Gomes hit the crossbar with a transparent chance to make it 2-2.

The biggest sufferer of the evening, particularly, turned into Sergio Busquets. The Spain conserving midfielder, usually so unflappable, relinquished a number of balls. He changed into missing his shops to Iniesta and Pique, who regularly starts Barcelona's assaults from the lower back.

"We knew it will be a difficult healthy and that the group that forced stronger and recovered more balls often is the one that received," Busquets stated. "Right through the season there are matches like this one."

In keeping with Aguero, who is a chum of Messi and teammate on the Argentina countrywide aspect, the Barcelona chief understandably did not leave Etihad Stadium joyful.

"Whenever you lose you are now not happy," Aguero referred to about Messi. "Leo wasn't within the mood and that I recognize that."

Iniesta may be side-lined for an extra month with ligament hurt in his right knee. A right ankle sprain will maintain Pique out for a further week, while Alba is expected returned quickly from a muscle pull.

As soon as they get well, Barcelona may still be its old dominant self.

In the meantime, though, Barcelona faces a tough fit at Sevilla within the Spanish league on Sunday. Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli without doubt can have taken observe of the flaws that metropolis exploited and check out to do likewise.

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