Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has praised Manchester City’s desire after he watched his side lose 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium.
Pep Guardiola encourages his players to press the opposition high up the field – and Enrique identified that as the key reason why Barcelona found it so difficult to contain City.
The Catalan side dominated for much of the first half and were ahead after Lionel Messi finished expertly after 21 minutes.
But Ilkay Gundogan’s goal on 39 minutes changed the course of the match and City were suddenly in the ascendancy, pressing Barcelona out of their stride and looking the more dangerous going forward.
Enrique admitted afterwards that his players struggled to handle City once they had equalised.
“It has been one of the best 40 minutes we have played, particularly on a stage like this against a top-quality rival,” he said. “The first few minutes we played really well. It is a shame after the error we made for the first goal, from then on we had a bad time.
“When you concede a goal in that way, it is normal that you go through a bad period after that and in the second half we hoped to continue to dominate but because of errors we made and pressure from the opponents, we didn’t have as much possession.
“City took advantage of our errors and they have got some top-quality players. The first 40 minutes for us, the next 50 for them, the results reflected that.
“They played very well. They pressure aggressively and provoked more errors from us than we did of them.”
When asked whether the loss of key players through injury had affected the result, Enrique was quick to deny it was a determining factor.
“If you lose, it’s not because of the players who are not there,” he said. “It’s nothing strange. It doesn’t just happen to Barcelona.”