Pep Guardiola says his team’s 3-1 Champions League win over European giants Barcelona is a historical feat for the club, but admits they did not do it in his style.
The Citizens had not beaten the Spanish champions in five previous meetings and Guardiola believes the win on Tuesday will be remembered for a long time.
“It is a good step to say that once in our lives we played against the best team in the world and we beat them.
“We competed with Barcelona, but for now we did it in a different way. We played more long balls because we are still not ready to keep the ball and play like they do.
“They have been playing that way for 25 years. For us, it is three or four months that we have been trying to play in a different style.”
City show character against a classy Barca
Guardiola’s men staged a remarkable fightback after Lionel Messi had scored his 90th Champions League goal to put the Catalan side ahead inside 20 minutes.
Goals from Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin de Bruyne’s free-kick sent the parked Etihad stadium into rapture as the Blues swept aside Group C leaders, needing one more win from their two remaining games to progress to the last 16.
Guardiola, who won the Champions League twice as Barca manager, had seen his side lose 4-0 at the Nou Camp last month in the reverse fixture after goalkeeper Caludio Bravo was sent off.
City performed better on the night
But the 45-year-old manager said that when both sides had equal number of players in the first game, his side performed much better than for the 38 minutes on Tuesday night.
“They were 1-0 up and we were really in trouble. They had a chance to score their second and if they had, then the game was done – finished,” said Guardiola.
“Our equaliser changed absolutely everything for our mood. We also realised our build-up was too complicated, because they were playing a high-pressing game against us.
“We did not feel comfortable and we changed the way we played. We tried to play a little bit more direct.”
Guardiola believes the win is a morale buster
The 1992 Champions Cup winner with Barcelona took charge of City in the summer with the task of conquering Europe. And now he feels that, psychologically, they are on track.
“If you talk about the whole performance then, for the first 38 minutes, we were still not able to compete with the best clubs in the world,”
“But, in the second half, it was different. I saw my players were upbeat – they knew they had gone through their bad moment. That sureness Barca had in the first half, we were able to turn that around.
“Now they will realise that they have beaten the best team. Future generations will see that and know they have to do that again. That is a process.
“It was the same with the group of players with Joe Hart and Vincent Kompany who won the title twice in five or six years together.
”The players arriving at the club now understand they have to do that, or try to do that too.”
City receive Enrique praise
Barca manager Luis Enrique commended City for their pressing game, which forced several unlike errors from his side, resulting in the home side’s equaliser.
“Until City’s first goal it had been one of the best 40 minutes we had played on a stage like this against a top quality rival,” Enrique said afterwards.
“From then on we had a bad time. We couldn’t control the game in the same way, because of the errors we made and also because of pressure from the opponents.
“City played very well and pressed aggressively to provoke more errors from us than we did from them, and they took advantage of them.”