Pep Guardiola has claimed that his surprise decision to rest star striker Sergio Aguero in the Barcelona match was made to pit an extra man in the midfield to counter Barcelona’s passing game. However, the ploy did not work too well as Messi shredded City with a hattrick enroute to a 4-0 win.
Aguero, who has scored 11 goals in just 9 games for the Manchester team this season, didn't even come out for the warm-up before the game raising questions about his fitness. But, Guardiola confirmed that the striker's absence was a tactical decision rather than a forced one.
“He didn’t warm up, but it was OK. I wanted one more midfield player in that position and that was the reason why (he didn’t play). I spoke with him and he was good. The decision was made this afternoon,” said the former Barcelona coach.
When asked if his style of play, that involves playing out from the back, had been the reason for Claudio Bravo's sending off, the Catalan said that he would continue playing football the same way "till his last day" as a coach.
"There will be no change. Until the last day of my career as a coach I will try to play from our keeper," he added.
"Sometimes there are mistakes and sometimes you have to kick the ball out, but most of the time, when we play good, it starts from there. Of course, he knows what he did, but he has a lot of experience and he's one of best goalkeepers in last 10 years, so I don't have doubts about him."
"We lost the game 4-0, but we are a new club, we are getting to know each other. We are a club that for 35 years was not in Europe. We came here and played with huge personality but it is always difficult to play Barcelona with 11. With 10 the game was over. Until then the game was open," Guardiola, who won two Champions League titles with Barcelona, said after the match.
Messi ensured City's horrendous run against the Spanish Champions continued when he sealed his second hat-trick of the season in a 4-0 drubbing of last season's semi-finalists. Barcelona coach Luis Enrique praised Messi's great performance considering the fact that the Argentine had just come back from an injury.
"We saw Messi play like a kid in the school playground today," Luis Enrique told the media after the match.
"Any other player would be shaking (after coming back from injury) but if we have come to expect anything from Messi, it's that. It doesn't matter how long he's been out for or how many games he's missed, he has a total understanding of football. Anyone who ever doubts Messi is naive."
Guardiola also echoed his former
“I have always believed he is a great player. Since I’ve known him he already did things and he keeps on doing them," concluded the Man City manager.