Belfast Telegraph

Even FA Cup will elude Manchester City

By Robert Fenton

Manchester City's defensive weaknesses were once again exposed, albeit by a Barcelona team that's finding its way back to the form of two seasons ago when they were virtually impossible to beat.

So much rose-coloured hype has been written and spoken about how good Manuel Pellegrini's team is but when you boil it down, they are a long way off reaching the zenith of European greatness.

City's Champions League hopes died when outclassed by Barca, even though the Spaniards benefitted from a penalty which was outside the box and a sending off which reduced City to 10 men for most of the second half.

However, the red card was justified – Martin Demichelis' selection was Pellegrini's crucial mistake as the central defender's lack of pace was always going to cost City big time against the likes of Lionel Messi.

And Barca had a good goal disallowed for offside when it was nothing of the kind.

The Citizens have no chance of pulling back a two goal deficit and don't be surprised if Pellegrini is banned from the bench after his ill-judged comments, stupidly questioning the referee's impartiality.

And as for Vincent Kompany's silly remarks about Barcelona not being the best team City have faced this season and "there for the taking", are an insult to any football observer's intelligence.

City are fine playing against Premier League sides – some of them of a poor quality – but while they should pick up the Capital One League Cup against Sunderland, they are dodgy favourites at evens for FA Cup glory. They're likely to take revenge on Wigan for last year's final defeat, but still face two hurdles after that.

Taking each game into account, that works out at around 3/10 per tie and who would take that if they come up against the winners of Arsenal and Everton? Very few.

In fact, the best value to be running around Wembley with the FA Cup is the Toffees at 7/1.

Everton always make life difficult for the Gunners as seen back in December when deservedly gaining a 1-1 draw at the Emirates, so a return trip in the quarter-finals should hold no fears.

FA Cup: evens Manchester City; 3/1 Arsenal; 7/1 Everton; 16/1 Sunderland; 25/1 Hull City; 50/1 Brighton; 66/1 Wigan; 100/1 Sheffield Utd; 125/1 Sheffield Wednesday; 150/1 Charlton.

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