City vs Barcelona: Fact file

Three days after the Blues recorded a famous victory against La Liga giants Barcelona – ending our so called ‘jinx’ at the hands of the Catalans – I find myself, at last, starting to simmer down.

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The electric, scintillating, confident and fluid football played under the lights of the Etihad on Tuesday night won’t soon be forgotten. Undoubtedly, living long in the memory of City fans everywhere – and, when looked back on, it should be deemed the night our inferiority complex against the big boys in Europe was put to rest.

Despite other memorable nights in Europe, such as the 3-2 comebacks home and away to Bayern Munich and Kevin De Bruyne’s beautiful curler handing us a 1-0 win against PSG, both games just weren’t quite the same. Bayern didn’t have the overwhelming desire or ‘need’ to win either of those encounters and PSG were well below their best – but Barcelona, minus the absences of Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Andres Iniesta, were at full strength and at times showcased some of their best football. It was Pep’s philosophy, the constant pressurized closing down of the away side and the stellar performances of key men that clinched us 3 points.

After one of City’s best nights in Europe so far, here are four fun facts the famous fixture threw up:

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Gündoğan close to record

İlkay Gündoğan has, already, equalled his highest ever goal total in a campaign. One of the many heroes of Pep’s line-up, Gündoğan’s performance was the cherry on top of an all-round excellent team performance. Signed for just £20 million, the German is already shaping up to be one of City’s biggest bargain coups of the last decade.

His incredible knack for being in the right place at the right time to seize opportunities has been one of our main differences between before the West Brom game and now. Gündoğan’s four goals in two games are a justified reward. Not only for the man himself, but Pep Guardiola’s tactical innovation to play the former Dortmund midfielder in a more advanced role.

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Etihad fortress

As a result of the Barcelona demolition, City have now gone seven consecutive Champions League home games without a defeat for the very first time.

Casting our minds back to 2011, our first ever home game in Europe’s most prestigious competition, the blues drew 1-1 to Napoli in a game devoid of any sort of control we could’ve had over the opposition. Aleksandar Kolarov’s sumptuous free kick spared Roberto Mancini’s blushes in a game that very nearly got away from us.

Manchester City FC v SSC Napoli - UEFA Champions League

This match was but a foresight of what was to come at the Etihad, with City unable to put together any sort of consistent run of good home results on football’s biggest stage for a good number of seasons. Now, however, we have to look back to October 2015 for the last time we dropped points at home in the Champions League – a 2-1 loss to Juventus. A momentum could very well be building.

Our first time

Tuesday’s monumental message to the rest of Europe that we do belong in the Champions League is the first time any Manchester City side has ever beaten Barcelona in a competitive fixture.

Even with our friendly results, you’d have to cast your mind all the way back to the City of Manchester Stadium, 2003. The first ever game played at our new ground, where self-proclaimed City fan since birth Trevor Sinclair scored the winner in a 2-1 friendly win over Frank Rijkaard’s Barcelona to cap off a momentous occasion.

Martin Petrov also grabbed a goal against Barcelona in a 2009 friendly at the Nou Camp – where Mark Hughes’s City eventually ran out 1-0 winners.

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Zaba’s personal victory

Beloved Argentinian cult hero, Pablo Zabaleta, enjoyed his first ever win against Barcelona as a player.

Zabaleta, who played for rivals Espanyol before joining City in 2009, had an immense game at right back where he handled the usually unstoppable skill and pace of Neymar with real resilience. His passionate celebration to the Etihad said it all, in what must be one of the most memorable moments he’s had sporting sky blue. And there are so many to pick from.

Manchester City FC v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League

Written by Emilio Galantini

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