Barcelona 'outclassed' Manchester City in Champions League tie, says Dietmar Hamann
Last Updated: 19/02/14 10:35am
Turning point: Demichelis brings down Messi
Barcelona may not be the team they once were but they outclassed Manchester City on Tuesday night, says Dietmar Hamann.
The La Liga leaders capitalised on Martin Demichelis' second-half sending-off, with a Lionel Messi penalty and Dani Alves' late strike sealing an ominous 2-0 first-leg advantage in their Champions League first knockout round tie.
"This was a wake-up call for City for what you need to win the competition."
And, despite City boss Manuel Pellegrini criticising the referee for awarding Barca a spot-kick when Demichelis' challenge on Messi appeared to be outside the box, Hamann says the Catalan giants fully deserved their victory at the Etihad - and are on course for a quarter-final spot.
"Barcelona may not be the team they were five or six years ago, but they were in a different class to Man City," Hamann told Sky Sports.
"Even in the first half, Barcelona were well in control of the game. They didn't create an awful lot of chances in the first half but over the 90 minutes, you have to say Man City have been outclassed.
"This was a wake-up call for them for what you need to win the competition.
"Now it's a big ask to come back from 2-0. Sergio Aguero will be back hopefully for the second leg but at 2-0 down, I think it's too much for them."
The decisive moment in the match came on 54 minutes when Messi picked up Andres Iniesta's incisive pass, burst through on goal and was then brought down from behind by his Argentina team-mate Demichelis.
While Hamann agreed the foul came outside the penalty area and Messi should not have had the opportunity to open the scoring from the spot, he also pointed out that later in the game Gerard Pique had a legitimate goal ruled out for offside.
"It was very clever movement from Messi and an inch-perfect pass from Iniesta," he said.
"Demichelis brought Messi down and it's a sending off. It should have been a free-kick but it's very hard for the ref to see. The contact is six to eight inches outside the box and sometimes you have to have sympathy for the ref.
"But it was nothing less than Barcelona deserved. They were well on top for the first 50 minutes, and you always felt the first goal would go to Barcelona.
"They shouldn't have had the penalty but later Gael Clichy played Cesc Fabregas onside for Pique's 'goal' - and that should have counted.
"So I don't think City can say they were hard done by, because there was no doubt about the sending-off and if this goal went in, Barcelona may well have put the tie to bed."
Hamann also labelled City 'naive' for allowing Barcelona to net an injury-time second, which makes their task at the Nou Camp far harder.
And fellow Sky Sports pundit John Collins says a City comeback in Spain is highly unlikely.
On only five occasions in Champions League history has a team overcome a 2-0 deficit, and the former Monaco ace cannot see Pellegrini's side making it six.
"City are a good team but you can't see City going there and winning by three goals," he said.
"You never know in football. If they got an early goal and Barcelona got a player sent off, who knows? And City will go there with hope - but I can't see it happening.
"Barcelona got possession for large periods of the game. You expect that, but not quite as much as we saw. For City, it was a shock to the system because they're so used to doing that week-in, week-out and keeping the ball in the Premier League.
"But there were periods when they sat too deep around their box. We've said that many times and it's easier said than done to go up and press the Barcelona midfielders.
"Then conceding a goal and getting a red card at the same time was a killer blow for them."