Salem Radio Network News Thursday, September 28, 2023

Sports

Soccer-How Man City 2023 stack up against Guardiola’s 2009 Barcelona

By Fernando Kallas

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Pep Guardiola became the first manager in Europe to win two trebles as Manchester City completed a dream season by beating Inter Milan 1-0 to secure their first Champions League title on Saturday.

City completed the treble of Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup titles, matching Manchester United’s feat in 1999 and drawing comparisons with Guardiola’s 2008-09 Barcelona team.

Here is how the 2022-23 City side stack up against that Barca team.

TEAM STRENGTHS

Guardiola’s 2008-09 Barca had a squad including some of the best Spanish players of their generation, defenders Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique, and midfielders Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta who were the core of the national team who won the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Brazilian full back Dani Alves was a menace down the right channel, supplying one of the best strike forces in the history of club football — Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry.

Manchester City have one of the greatest club squads ever assembled.

The likes of forward Julian Alvares, a starter for Argentina in last year’s World Cup triumph, England midfielder Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez all struggle to nail down a first-team spot.

The addition of Erling Haaland turned Guardiola’s City into a juggernaut, with the 22-year-old Norwegian striker surpassing Mohamed Salah’s record of 32 goals in a 38-game Premier League season and beating Alan Shearer and Andy Cole, who managed 34 each when it was a 42-match competition.

GAME STYLE

Guardiola’s Barca were well known for their unique possession game which dazzled opponents with quick short passes, intelligent movement and positional interchange in a style called “Tiki-Taka”.

One of the great tactical revolutions also helped Spain to dominate world football, winning won two European championships and a World Cup.

At City, Guardiola presented an evolution of “total football”, creating a near perfect fluid system in which almost no player remained in a fixed role, complemented by a relentless high press.

City are flexible and can change systems when required. Last year, they won the Premier League without a centre forward and with Haaland they have a battering ram up-front which allows them to adopt a more direct style.

CAMPAIGNS

Barca won the 2008-09 LaLiga title with 87 points, nine more than Real Madrid, scored 105 goals and finished the season with an unbeaten run of 22 matches.

Messi, Eto’o and Henry scored a 100 goals in all competitions with the Argentine netting 38 and Eto’o finishing as LaLiga’s top scorer with 30 strikes.

They beat Manchester United in the Champions League final 2-0 thanks to goals by Eto’o and Messi.

This year’s Premier League title was Guardiola’s fifth with City as they became only the second club to win it three years in a row and the fifth in the history of league football in England.

They will bid next year to become the first club to win the Premier League four times in a row.

City beat Manchester United 2-1 in the FA Cup final and became only the second English team to win the treble.

(Reporting by Fernando Kallas, editing by Ed Osmond)

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