The difference between a very good team and a great team comes down to the small details. They minimize mistakes in dangerous areas, and they take advantage of any slip-up by their opposition. Barcelona are a great team. And in perhaps the biggest matchup of this year's Champions League competition to date, Manchester City showed that right now they're simply a very, very good team.
And it came down to the details. It started with Fernandinho's unfortunate slip, and Nicolas Otamendi making the executive decision that tracking the greatest active footballer on earth was a bit below his pay grade. And who else but Messi to illustrate just how important those small details can be?
It was all good up until that point, too. For 17 minutes, City had been on the front foot. They had the edge in possession, and they'd created a couple clear-cut chances that Marc-Andre Ter Stegen did extremely well to keep out. But then mistakes happened, and Leo Messi happened.
At this level, all it takes is one slip. One mistake, and the game's over. Unfortunately for Manchester City, they made a couple of those mistakes, and they happened to be playing probably the best team in the world right now. And they got punished for it.
There isn't too much Pep Guardiola could've done about this one. He'll probably lose hours of sleep over it, because he's a top level manager who obsesses over the most minute details, but in the grand scheme of things, he set his team up in the right way, and it wasn't necessarily a flaw in his gameplan that undid City. It was individual errors. Unfortunately, since the game is played by individuals, that's how it works sometimes.
Pep Guardiola's been at Manchester City for approximately three months. They're far from the finished product. He's done fantastic things with this team already in that time, but…he's been there for three months. The bulk of this Barcelona team (that Pep Guardiola pretty much built) have been together for years now, and they are the finished product.
So what did we learn? Probably not much. Barcelona is a fantastic team who pretty much have it figured out, and Manchester City are still in the process of doing that. Oh, and Claudio Bravo is a crazy man who may just give Citizens supporters a heart attack at some point in the near future.