There have been doubts/questions about the Guardiola way, but this was an emphatic endorsement of his methodology. Yes, Barcelona are weakened at the back right now, but that should take nothing away from Manchester City.
To recover from a 4-0 humbling in the Nou Camp takes gut and faith – and remember they fell behind here, too.
Lionel Messi’s 21st minute goal – and his 16th in 14 matches against English sides in Europe – the visitors looked untouchable. It would have been very easy for City to crumble. They didn’t. They got a foothold in the game and dominated from there. After Ilkay Gundogan’s 39th minute equaliser, there was only going to be one winner.
Gundogan’s performance was a triumph for Guardiola, too. His summer signing scored twice and dominated mid
field in the way Yaya Toure used to; except Toure never did it against Barcelona. And while City’s defensive frailties remain, after last season’s semi-final appearance this was a performance that suggests the club could be genuine contenders for the European title this season. Just as Guardiola’s employers hoped.
Tonight, is one of the reasons; they waited for him, why they put everything in place to make it just right. This is the momentous occasion Manchester City’s hierarchy hoped Pep Guardiola would provide. Well, it is the starting point at least The third goal encapsulated City’s supremacy. Kevin De Bruyne put a through ball behind Barcelona’s back four, Jesus Navas crossed and when Sergio Aguero could not get the required contact, the ball then fell kindly for Gundogan to strike home. Barcelona had been opened, as City were at Nou Camp last month.
He must have been pleased because, for once, the coach allowed himself a brief celebration, a fist pump and a purposeful stride back to his bench. That’s real joy in Guardiola’s world. He felt it, and so did they. Congrats Man City.