Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola stood by his tactics — and his humilated goalkeeper Claudio Bravo — after seeing his side thrashed 4-0 by former club Barcelona on a nightmarish return to the Nou Camp on Wednesday.
Barca talisman and Guardiola’s former talisman Lionel Messi gave Barca an early lead but City were still in the game until Bravo was sent off early in the second half after losing the ball to Luis Suarez and then handling his shot outside the box.
After his ghastly mistake, for which he apologised in the City dressing room afterwards, Barca took complete control, a rampant Messi swiftly going on to complete his hat-trick while Neymar scored a fourth after also missing a penalty.
“There were two ways to approach the game. We could have sat back and we could have won or lost doing that but I don’t know how to play that way and I don’t want to play that way,” Guardiola told a post-match news conference.
“The more these Barca players have the ball, the more damage they do. It’s difficult to play against these players when you have 11. With 10, it was over.”
Guardiola said he left top scorer Sergio Aguero out of the starting 11 for tactical reasons and lamented his side’s litany of mistakes this season, as well as their errors against Barca.
“We’ve given a lot to our opponents, starting in Glasgow (the 3-3 draw at Celtic), the own goal against Tottenham, and missing penalties (against Everton),” he said.
“We created enough chances, we arrived at the byline many times, but with their strikers when they arrive they punish you.”
The coach gave his backing to Bravo, who has been criticised for some of his shaky performances in England since signing from Barcelona for 18 million euros ($19.75 million) in the summer.
“Of course he knows what he did. He has a lot of experience, he is one of the best goalkeepers in the world last 10 years but he was the first one to apologise in the dressing room,” he said.
Guardiola won 14 trophies in four years with Barcelona and took Bayern Munich to three consecutive Bundesliga titles, but is now without a win in four games at City, where he began with 10 straight victories.
Despite his worst defeat so far with the Manchester club, Guardiola tried to remain positive.
“I feel we weren’t as bad as the result says,” he added.
“We’ve only known each other for a little while, but I think we were a brave team tonight.”