Manchester City's clash with Barcelona arguably did not receive the media attention it deserved. Given the hype surrounding Manchester United's clash with Liverpool just last Monday (which petered out to a dull 0-0 draw), Pep Guardiola's return to his former club with his new one arguably should have been received with even greater anticipation.
In the end, it was a little one-sided, but it certainly didn't lack for entertainment value. Claudio Bravo's red card early on essentially ended the game as a contest, with Lionel Messi proceeding to dismantle Man City in his typically ruthless manner.
Guardiola's City were excellent in their first 10 games, but have hit a patch of rough form of late. Two draws and two losses in their last four games has caused the increasing optimism surrounding the club to subside somewhat.
Prior to the Barcelona game, City could have made strong cases for deserving more than what they got in all three games in which they failed to win. The 3-3 draw with Celtic was a chaotic game, while they played well in their league defeat to Tottenham without taking their chances and dominated a defensively resolute Everton, who claimed a point.
However, this City squad is not the finished article yet. There are still several players who will be found out by Guardiola's system, and several others who will need more time to adapt to either the league or the system.
Currently, some of Guardiola's big decisions have not quite paid off. Leaving Sergio Aguero on the bench against Barcelona did not work out well, and Kevin De Bruyne, for all his qualities, did not look at home as a false-9.
Bravo's distribution from the back has been a little erratic, while the team's emphasis on an attacking, possession-based game has caused them to make numerous defensive mistakes.
The absence of club captain Vincent Kompany continues to plague them, while more technical options will need to be sought after in the full-back positions in order to make the most of Guardiola's tactic of utilising inverted full-backs in possession.
Manchester City have a talented squad and a talented manager, but they are going to have to be patient, and remember that, despite their fast start, they are still very much a work in progress. City are still favourites for the Premier League title, but whether or not they win it this year, it will undoubtedly come under the Spaniard, along with some of the best football to ever grace the Etihad Stadium.
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