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Barcelona 4-0 Manchester City: Lionel Messi scores hat-trick as Barca thrash Pep's Sky Blues at Camp Nou

Manchester City have lost 4-0 to Barcelona in their Champions League Group C match at Camp Nou.

Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick as City were thrashed on a nightmare return to Barcelona for Pep Guardiola and Claudio Bravo.

Bravo, the goalkeeper controversially signed by Guardiola from Barca this season, was sent off for handling outside the area after blundering an attempt to play out from the back.

Messi, who had already scored one in a breathless Champions League Group C clash, took further advantage with two more and Neymar, after missing a penalty, added a late fourth.

Barca also finished the game with 10 men after Jeremy Mathieu - a 39th-minute substitute for the injured Gerard Pique - was dismissed for two bookings in quick succession.

It proved far from a happy homecoming for the revered Guardiola, who made a huge call before kick-off by leaving star striker Sergio Aguero on the bench.

His reasoning was that he wanted more midfielders, presumably to combat Barcelona's attacking arsenal, but the tactic failed.

Instead, Kevin De Bruyne was deployed in the 'false nine' position Messi sometimes played under Guardiola at Barca.

City were given an early warning as Neymar weaved his way to the byline but his pull-back found no-one. In a lively start, City also broke as Raheem Sterling and David Silva exchanged passes but Marc-Andre ter Stegen dealt with the England man's cross.

The opening minutes were promising for City but Barca quickly overcame the early loss of Jordi Alba to injury and began to take a firm grip.

A quick break saw Luis Suarez slip in Neymar. John Stones cleared but Barca came back again with Messi combining with Andres Iniesta on a charge into the box. Fernandinho slipped at an unfortunate moment and suddenly the ruthless Messi had all the space he needed he round Bravo and put Barca ahead.

Suarez almost added another moments later after Messi poked the ball in his direction but the former Liverpool forward lashed into the side-netting.

Another chance went by as Ivan Rakitic headed a free-kick over but City could have been back level by the break as Nolito and Ilkay Gundogan forced saves out of Ter Stegen. Stones had an even better chance but planted a free header wide from a free-kick. De Bruyne hit the side-netting after a Sterling cross was deflected, perhaps off Lucas Digne's hand.

Barca lost a second defender to injury when Pique limped off but they went close again as Suarez's shot rebounded goalwards off Bravo's body and the keeper clawed away.

That was a hairy moment for the Chilean, but nothing compared to the horror which unfolded in the 53rd minute.

City had already had another escape after Samuel Umtiti headed wide when Bravo came out of his area and miscued a pass straight to Suarez. Suarez immediately attempted a lob and Bravo's instinctive jump to handle the shot was only ever going to result in a red card.

The resulting reshuffle saw Nolito sacrificed and Willy Caballero sent on in goal, while Pablo Zabaleta also went off injured during the stoppage.

Caballero made an early save from Suarez but there was no stemming the tide as Messi clipped in his second from the edge of the box just after the hour.

Caballero was soon picking the ball out of the net again after Gundogan miplaced a pass and Suarez surged forward to tee up Messi's hat-trick.

Ter Stegen made good saves from De Bruyne and Aleskandar Kolarov and Barca also lost a man when Mathieu received a second yellow card for fouling Sterling.

Caballero made his mark by saving Neymar's spot-kick after Kolarov felled Messi but the Brazilian was not to be denied and struck in the 89th minute.

Match preview

Luis Enrique on track to eclipse Pep's heroics at Barca

By Pete Jensen

He was a famous player for Barcelona, he is much-loved by the club's supporters, he coached their 'B' team, and then the first team to a famous treble. But that's enough about Luis Enrique, what about Pep Guardiola?

It's true that all those things also apply to the current Manchester City boss but, as the high-priest of passing sweeps into the Catalan cathedral of football tonight, his status as Barca's most successful coach ever is under threat from the man currently at the helm.

Enrique has none of the mysticism of Guardiola, whose influence was so great that a new word was added to the lexicon in these parts - a 'Guardiolada' is a tactical innovation used for a big game and for the purposes of that match only.

But Enrique has a different sort of charm and is adored just the same, albeit for different reasons. Barcelona fans fell for him in 1996 when he left Real Madrid to join them.

He was a Johan Cruyff signing but never got to play for the Dutchman, who was replaced by Sir Bobby Robson for the 96-97 season. Under Robson, and in a team inspired by Ronaldo, Barca won everything bar the league, and Enrique stood out for his work-rate, passion and versatility.

He played as a forward, as a midfielder, and even a marauding full-back under Louis van Gaal, who replaced Robson a season later. He left the club in 2004. Guardiola had walked away three years earlier but their paths would cross again when both became coaches.

Guardiola won promotion to the Spanish third division in his first and only season in charge of Barca B and that was his ticket to the big job.

When Enrique also coached the 'B' team and also won a promotion, many imagined a developing 'Barcelona boot-room' vibe that would see him wait patiently to eventually follow in Guardiola's footsteps and take the first team.

But instead he left Spain to take over at Roma showing the same spirit of adventure that, during his brief spells away from the game, have taken him to New York, Florence and Frankfurt to compete in marathons, triathlons and even an Iron Man contest.

His Italian job did not go near as well as Guardiola's three Bundesliga titles adventure in Germany but Enrique took the plunge without having first won things at Barcelona.

And he took on a dressing room run by captain Daniele de Rossi and club legend Francesco Totti. He left the latter on the bench for a Europa League game that ended in defeat and that set the tone for his one and only, underwhelming, season.

He bounced back at Spanish club Celta Vigo. They played good football and punched above their weight. It was enough to get him the Barcelona job and Gerard Pique said yesterday that picking between Pep and Luis, from a player's point of view, is impossible.

'They have both won the same amount of trophies (in their first two years). They have both won trebles and the relationship with both is good. Pep lifted the team after the Frank Rijkaard era, and Luis Enrique has done the same (after Tata Martino)," he said.

The 'relationship with the players' part of that complimentary comparison might have been up for debate after Enrique's first five months. He fell out with Lionel Messi, who stopped talking to his manager for a period, and he rubbed Neymar and Luis Suarez up the wrong way with a rotation policy that saw them lose the first game of 2015 against David Moyes' Real Sociedad.

But they won the Champions League final at the end of 2015, beating Guardiola's Bayern Munich along the way - success heals all wounds.

He's combative and in a more head-on way than Guardiola, whose intensity tends to go hand in hand with a natural instinct to avoid confrontation. He is not the son of Cruyff in terms of tactical innovation but he has still managed find a way to make the Neymar, Suarez, Messi front three work.

Neymar's first season saw him score 15 goals in 41 games under Martino. Since Enrique took over he has scored 75 in 108. With Suarez and Messi they make up the most potent strikeforce in Europe.

Enrique said yesterday: "A coach has to work according to the players he has." His Barca might greater resemble Pep's Barca if he still had Xavi at his best.

He doesn't, and, as a consequence, the emphasis has switched from midfield to attack.

Andres Iniesta said this week: "I have never had to run as much as this in my career." Things are different, and yet in terms of success they are very much the same.

Guardiola will always be extra special to Barca's Catalan fans because, not only is he a Catalan, but he is an outspoken supporter of the region's push for independence from Spain.

There are other Barca fans without that Catalan independence bent who prefer Enrique, having not completely forgiven Guardiola for leaving and joining another Champions League giant in Bayern. They would be the ones who sing the current manager's name with a regularity that never happened with Guardiola.

But most supporters are happy that both have coached the club.

They are great friends - stood shoulder to shoulder in so many team photos from the late 1990s - and now rivals in the Champions League.

"Don't compare me to Pep because…" said Enrique. He never finished that, but the implication was: 'I'll never match that'.

He is matching that and in 12 home Champions League games so far as Barca coach, he is yet to do anything other than win. Enter Guardiola to try to change that.

  • Barcelona v Man City, Champions League Group C: Nou Camp, Tonight 7.45pm

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