AC Milan v Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Round of 16

Game in a sentence

Max Allegri wisely ignores the advice from his incompetent albatross of a boss, devising an excellent game plan that sees Milan take a two goal lead into Camp Nou.

Observations

  • Well that was something.  Portsmouth Milan defeats Barcelona at the San Siro, setting up what should be an incredible second leg. Goals from Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari were the difference. Allegri received a massive performance from Montolivo and Ambrosini.
  • Just to put this result into perspective: Barcelona hadn’t lost a match to Milan in nine years. Only five players in the Milan starting XI remained from last year’s 3-1 loss to the Spanish super giants.  The Rossoneri’s lineup had 286 matches of Champions League experience under their belt. The Barcelona trio of Valdes, Xavi and Fabregas had 287 on their own. 
  • Stephan El Shaarawy was immense. The Little Pharoh ran Dani Alves ragged, tracking back to ensure Milan’s defense wouldn’t be exposed on the counter. He coupled his strong defensive play with a handful of excellent offensive opportunities and a ridiculous assist on the second goal.
  • Philipe Mexes and Cristian Zapata made Barcelona’s formidable attack look feckless, blocking passing lanes, getting in front of shooting opportunities and rendering Leo Messi a non-factor.
  • But the most impressive Milan player on this monumental day–you really could not go wrong choosing anyone, it was truly a team effort– was Kevin-Prince Boateng. His goal in the 56th minute broke the deadlock and ushered in a wave of Rossoneri dominance on the ball.
  • The goal didn’t come without controversy. Alves, visibly frustrated, fouled SES from behind. Montolivo’s shot deflected off of a Barcelona player into the arm of Zapata, who had no time to get of the way. The ball then came down to Boateng, who made no mistake on the finish. That wasn’t an obvious handball call to me. I can also see how the referee would’ve missed it. We’re talking milliseconds here.
  • Barcelona’s New Kids On The Block inspired kits ushered in a new wave of terrible joke making, the likes of which we may never see again. Saved by the Bell, Bam Bam Bigelow (I liked that one) and Tequilla Sunrise was just a sampling of the comedy found on twitter. We can do better folks.
  • It was tough recalling another game that saw the Blaugrana provide such a listless attacking display. Messi is clearly over the hill, Xavi sucks and Iniesta’s play is an affront to football.
  •  Jokes aside, this was enthralling to watch. After a quiet first half, Giampolo Pazzini was fantastic for thirty minutes. Challenging Puyol in the air, tackling Messi in the midfield — he was everywhere. His replacement wouldn’t need as much time to make an impact.
  • M’Baye Niang is quickly becoming one of my favourite players to watch. The 19 year old replaced Pazzini in the 75th minute and wasted no time in tormenting the Barcelona defense.
  • Sulley Muntari’s goal in the 81st minute was the product of three superb plays from Milan’s core of young stars. Boateng dropped an excellent ball onto Niang, who warded of Puyol before finding SES at the top of the box. The Italian-Egpytian wonderkid’s chip–no words, watch on repeat– found Muntari streaking down the left. Muntari made it 2-0 with a class finish.
  • The crowd at the San Siro was terrific. 75,000 strong, the home field advantage cliché rang true.
  • Leaving Italy without conceding a goal is huge. With five minutes of extra time it did get dicey at times, but Milan escaped.
  • This tie is a long way from being over, obviously. Anyone who doubts Barcelona can put up a four spot at home is someone I’d rather not humor with conversation. That said, Allegri’s game plan and team selection today was a masterstroke. How Jordi Roura and his staff responds will be a talking point that will eventually devolve into crisis porn as we get closer to March 5th. Can’t wait.

Three stars

1. Kevin-Prince Boateng

2. Stephan El Shaarawy

3. Riccardo Montolivo

Comments (20)

  1. Frustrating game to watch as a barca fan, along with great defending from Milan, Barca was not sharp at all. Curious as to why they weren’t using the flanks at all and sending in low crosses. This team really needs Villa’s ability to get goals against tougher competition.

    I really didn’t like the extreme pressing around the 75th minute. As much as you’d like an away goal, it’s not worth conceding more goals. An 0-1 deficit is much easier to overcome at home.

    • Agreed! To say barca looked sluggish would be generous.

      They look like the team that doesn’t want to lose the crown, rather than the team who wants to go out and win it. No urgency at all until they were down a goal!

  2. barca looked like shit, think they got into the box twice all game.

  3. Full credit to Milan, Barca had two shots on target in the game and Messi was almost invisible. This round of the Champions League has been awesome if only because a certain Mr. Drogba ain’t got shit to say. And by that I mean- HE AIN’T GOT SHIT TO SAY!

    • hahah that little drogba kid is a f****** idiot he is the most biased little kid i have ever seen and knows nothing about the game, and for his lover messi?..did the hobbit even play today because i didnt evem notice him on the pitch and what a game not to show up for!!

    • SOUNDS LIKE MESSI DIDN’T HAVE SHIT TO SAY!!!!

  4. Good play from Milan, their defending was excellent. It will still be tough for them in the away-leg, especially if they fall victim to the infamous Nou Camp red card which has struck many teams before them.

  5. Milan can never be underestimated in the Champion’s League — it seems to be in their blood. You don’t win 7 titles on just luck. It will be an excellent game on the return leg.

    • What always has impressed me most with AC is their constant ability to rebuild swiftly. They recognize pretty early when their team is in decline and take action to change it. It looks like things are headed in that direction once again.

      • That Niang lad was impressive in his short time on the pitch. What was the commentator saying, both Arsenal and Spuds passed on him? I know he is only 18 but he looked useful.

  6. DROGBA is going through HELL these past two week :D….Its all relative…

  7. I must say, may have just become an AC Milan fan. Waiting to see if they can do an Inter and hold them off in Catalonia.

    Either way, just another reason the CL is the greatest sports competition on earth.

  8. Full credit to Milan. They snuffed out everything. Pedro was invisible. He and Alves did not form a good partnership. Fabregas looked listless. I was hoping they would change Pedro for Alexis and put Tello in for Fabregas. Going to be tough to get 2 on Milan now, even at the Camp Nou.

  9. I also think they would have been better off playing Thiago than Xavi. I don’t think Xavi was 100%.

  10. Italian refs have been told not to call handball when the ball strikes a foot first. Seems like tonight’s ref used that as a reference point, if he even saw it. I’m happy for Milan to win, so I don’t care, but if your arms are raised you’re just asking to be called for it. Lucky boys.

    If you’re gonna go with SES, surely then you should also use the mellifluent KPB?

  11. Im probably one a few that wasnt shocked about this result, i knew deep down that Milan could get the win and win well. Barcelona out of Spain are there for the taking, back in Spain its their comfort zone..

  12. will be interesting to see if barca can regroup next week. I think they are seriously missing their manager about now. they got it tactically all wrong and couldn’t make up for it with superior skill. usually a defensive bus parking like that is dull to watch but the parts of the game I saw were actually great to watch. the way Milan pressed was quite energetic they seemed to move as a single unit cutting off passing lanes and all.

    not your fathers italian bus parking for sure.

  13. Portsmouth comment is a joke

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