Milan in the CL Quarter Finals

It’s Milan in the quarterfinals and the earliest we can meet Real Madrid is in the final. A relief for some, but imagine what May 19 will be like if that’s the case. Whatever, it’s a long ways off, so it’s time to focus on a team we’ve already played twice in the Champions League this year. The first was a draw at the Camp Nou, a 2-2 affair in which an early, early Pato goal and a late, late Thiago Silva goal were the bookends of a Pedro and Villa pair.

The second match, the one in the San Siro, was a 2-3 win for Barça in which Xavi got the winner with 30 minutes remaining. It was Boateng’s brilliant goal that was the highlight and one that left Barça a bit frazzled. Yet it was also that “heart of a champion” thing and getting the victory out of the draw, not settling for having to win the next game to be top of Group H.

And so it’s a return to the San Siro on wednesday, March 28 and then the Camp Nou on Tuesday, April 3. Set your calendars, set your DVRs, set your life aside: it’s the quarterfinals! The winner goes on to face the winner of Chelsea-Benfica on April 17/18 and April 24/25. Wouldn’t Stamford Bridge like to have us back…

The other side of the draw, if we must cover it, is Madrid-APOEL and Bayern-Marseille. Sounds easy, but I’m sure that both Lyon and Inter thought the same thing when they got the Round of 16 draw. If I were to guess, I’d say Madrid-Bayern in the semis, but no clear favorite emerges there simply because Bayern Munich is fighting to play the final in their own stadium.

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.


  1. Jafri
    March 16, 2012

    Bayern, get revenge on Mourinho!! Pretty please?

  2. Manish
    March 16, 2012

    go APOEL..a strong spirit can overcome anything…

  3. Barca_Donut
    March 16, 2012

    Our draw is ugly and EE’s is so much better.

    But, we take what we’re given. If it means that to win CL back-to-back we have to go through an Italian team with a striker that hates our guts and would like to see our coach die, we must. If it means that to get through the semis we have to meet a team that hates our guts because last time we played them, we emotionally scarred them for life, I guess we have to. And if the only real choice in the final is between a German team playing in a German stadium which just so happens to be THEIR stadium or a team who wishes we would all die (fans included), has players whose hobby is breaking legs and whose real name is ‘The Evil Empire’, then so be it.


  4. blitzen
    March 16, 2012

    I didn’t particularly want Milan, but whatever. At this stage every opponent is going to be difficult. And we have played them recently enough to already know their strengths and weaknesses. They should be two good games, but we can beat them.

    One good thing about this draw is that we will be able to get a good look at Thiago Silva. Let’s face it, in the wake of the news about Abidal, the club is going to need to buy both a LB and a CB this summer. Graham Hunter is convinced that negotiations for Thiago Silva have been ongoing for a long time and are at an advanced stage. Anyone who watches Serie A more closely want to comment on how he would fit into Barcelona’s system?

    People keep mentioning buying back Botia as a possible option, but Pep has shown no interest in him at all, and I don’t think he has been particularly impressive with Sporting Gijon this season. Can’t see that happening. Any other realistic prospects?

    As for a left back, I really hope the club doesn’t buy Jordi Alba. Not because he isn’t good (he is) or because he wouldn’t fit well in Barça’s system (he should, he came from the club), but because 1) It would be nice if Valencia could get through a season without having to sell off their best players, and 2) He is only 5’ 7”. Do we really need another shrimp at the back? Abidal is one of the few tall players we have and he has used his head to his advantage many times. We need someone in that position who can do the same. So throw out some other names that aren’t Gareth Bale.

    Then there are the B-teamers that will be promoted. As good as Bartra and Muniesa are, they are still prone to inconsistency and I don’t see either of them as being a starter in their positions. I expect them both to improve markedly under Pep’s coaching, but outside purchases are still going to be necessary.

    • footballfan
      March 16, 2012

      As much as I want Valencia to keep their players, is there any alternative to left-back position? I only mostly follow EPL and La Liga and I don’t see anyone good enough.

      • blitzen
        March 16, 2012

        And unfortunately we have no guarantee he will ever be fit enough to come back to the team.

  5. March 16, 2012

    This is a really tough draw. Madrid meanwhile get 2 weeks off basically. However, assuming we beat Milan, I’d rather face Chelsea/Benfica in the semis than Bayern.

    • Chiu
      March 16, 2012

      Yup, at the end the draw is balanced out for us and ee. Potential tie combo vs milan and chelsea is equal with semis vs high spirit bayern to play final at home turf

  6. blitzen
    March 16, 2012

    Does anyone think a healthy Afellay could be converted into a fullback? Just musing.

    • mom4
      March 16, 2012

      I think a healthy Pedro can be converted into a LB. Take all the pressure of him for having to score to boot.

    • Chiu
      March 16, 2012

      Never seen ibi play full back. Not sure about his defensive ability

  7. yassir (Formerly Extreme barca fan)
    March 16, 2012

    I don’t think we got a bad draw, Assuming we get past Milan, the SF against Benfica or Chelsea is much better than facing Bayern (that is if Bayern qualify to the SF).
    Right now i very much like our chances of reaching the final.

  8. Srini
    March 16, 2012

    Tuppence on a few issues –

    1) A draw is what it is. Can’t blame luck. Milan is going to be a tough opponent, but Barca overcame them at one of their vulnerable moments this season and I expect no less.

    2) Abidal’s loss (yet again) is heart wrenching. Hopefully he will come out of it as he did last year.

    But more than that story, what warms the cockles of my heart is how the Barcelona football club has dealt with Abidal’s contract and his health. They have done this based on humanitarian reason rather than cut throat “professional reason” that drives commercial sport so much today.

    And indeed, their play on their field, the composition of their squad has transcended mere commercial considerations. We are lucky to be fans of a special era of Barcelona football. Hopefully this endures.

    3) To strike a dead horse/ beaten horse..if only Barcelona got to play in a more fair league and under the aegis of a more competent RFEF.. but let me stop there.

    4) The LB position should now be locked up by Adriano with Muniesa/Puyol providing the ballast now and then. Tough to replace the strong Abidal there.

    5) Eager as a beaver to know about the injury statuses of Afellay and Villa. Wasn’t Afellay’s return date somewhere now?

    • March 16, 2012

      Muniesa is still young and pretty raw. I’d like to see Montoya practice with the first team for the rest of the season and fill in at left back against the weaker Liga teams.

      • blitzen
        March 16, 2012

        Don’t think Monty plays on the left, though. I’ve certainly never seen him play on that side, and I’ve seen him in plenty of B games.

        • March 16, 2012

          If he wants to make it in the first team he is going to have to be able to play on both sides, he isnt going to be able to get much time at right back with Alves in front of him. Plus in our current system he is more suited to the slightly more reserved left back spot than the Alves-dominate-the-flank right back spot. He isnt so one footed that he shouldnt be able to do the job there.

          Plus when you are considering left back options from the B team, I think he is the best choice, as we talked about on twitter.

          • blitzen
            March 16, 2012

            If he wants to make it in the first team he is going to have to be able to play on both sides

            I don’t recall Abidal being asked to play on the right, or Maxwell either.

            Not saying Montoya couldn’t adapt, just that some players aren’t as versatile as others. You can’t expect him to step up to the first team and try out a new position at the same time. Pep tried playing JDS at RB last summer and that didn’t work out, remember?

          • March 16, 2012

            I hear what you are saying, and that’s fair, but we have to be realistic about his chances in the first team. Alves has played 54 – 48 – 54 – 39 matches in the last four seasons, and probably only Messi and Valdez have played more matches than him over those years. He seems to have broken Kevin’s three year Brazilian rule, but then there doesn’t seem to be any danger of him losing his fire.

            If Montoya wants to make it in the first team he is going to have to find minutes in other places than right back. Being short on left backs, this is the ideal time to see if he is up to the challenge. Especially in league games, lets face it, people were saying the league was done games ago and the point difference hasn’t changed. Why not experiment a little bit to test options in the squad? I’m not saying line him up there against Sevilla tomorrow, but against some weaker teams? Do it.

            I do think it would be easier for him to adjust to left back than Dos Santos to right back, as Montoya’s basic roles and responsibilities would be almost the same, but he would just have to adjust to playing a mirror image. When Dos Santos was asked to play right back, he had trouble as the responsibilities and positioning is much different than it is as a midfielder. it’s harder to play in different vertical lines than it is to switch positions within a line.

      • Jim
        March 16, 2012

        He is, but I was impressed on his last outing with his positional sense.

  9. Xingxian
    March 16, 2012

    Strange for me. As a matter of principal I like cheering on other La Liga teams, even Real Madrid. And yet in these circumstances, with this structure, when talking to a milanista friend of mine and wishing him (and us) luck, I found myself saying to him ‘I won’t resent you or your club one bit if you knock us out. But if you guys win, you better win it all. I’ll hold it against all of you if you lose to Real Madrid in the finals!’

    Here’s to Robben and Ribery staying healthy long enough to help Bayern put up a fight against EE (barring a Nicosia Cinderella-story)

  10. footballfan
    March 16, 2012

    On a related note, does Abidal’s condition contribute to the club only extending his contract for one year while he wants two?

  11. Messiah10
    March 16, 2012

    I’m not sure what the worry is about Milan. Seriously, they have a few decent players but their speed is not anything close to ours. We’ve been beat to many times this year on the quick counter down the flanks and I just don’t see that happening against Milan. A wonder stuck by Boateng(not gonna happen again), and a injury time set piece conceded goal is the only thing that kept us from destroying Milan in the 2 legs. I anticipate at least 2 away goals so Milan will have to score at least 3 home goals to have a chance at the Camp Nou. Not gonna happen folks!
    I honestly think Bayern can beat EE in the Semi’s. Basten Sweinsteiger is back and he can hold up EE play. Bayern have been clicking of late and their passing, link up play, and clinical finishing was marvelous against Basel. Granted it was Basel, but it still takes a special team to hammer a 7-1 thumping down. WE KKNOW THAT! Chelsea don’t scare me at all. Did you see Chelsea’s representatives at the draw? Their faces dropped once they found out they’d be facing us in the Semi’s if they progress. I saw FEAR, Anguish, and turmoil. Done and Dusted!

  12. March 16, 2012

    It’s a tough draw, but not as tough as some of you seem to think. Barcelona has 3 wins and 2 draws in our last 5 games against Milan…

  13. nia
    March 16, 2012

    Pep really needs to stop with his predictions. Last yr he said he didn’t want Shakter and we got them, this yr he said he didn’t want Milan and we got them. Couldn’t he say he didn’t want Apoel or Marselle? Oh well, gotta deal with it, to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. I’m a bit worried coz Milan is playing well this yr. We played them twice and their defence was pretty solid, though a bit rough sometimes. Hope we don’t play 3-4-3 against them and stay to the old school 4-3-3 one.

  14. March 16, 2012

    I was off line yesterday. Just terrible news on Abidal. Very sad. Remarkable how he’s stayed incorporated into the team and kept this so quite. Class.


  15. mangut
    March 16, 2012

    Abidal’s absence may have a huge impact against Milan if Pep chooses to play with three in the back. Milan’s two goals in the second game came about because of the back being so stretched. And Boateng’s thunder strike. The two goals in the first game were a fluke but demonstrate they can be dangerous. Either way, they are old and slow but do possess certain quality players that can cause damage if allowed to.
    I do not want to sound melodramatic but I carry a heavy heart since reading about Abidal’s health status. I hope he can come back but the chances of that are very minimal. But I am also very proud to be a supporter of a club that truly is more than a club. The fact that he was resigned even though the club knew he was not healthy speaks volumes. The highlights of last year for me were his return against Madrid, his lifting of the cup and his heading of the ball while on the ground. It feels as if a family member is now ill and that what is most important is that he regains his health and is able to live a good life.

  16. hammeronmessi
    March 16, 2012

    off topic,but have to share this with every BFB cules.

    my country bangladesh beat the mighty india(who are the world champion)in a cricket match today.i am so full of joy.

    btw,hats off to sachin tendulkar for his 100th century.

      • hammeronmessi
        March 16, 2012

        i am not sure xavi knows cricket.but why not?

        • dean
          March 16, 2012

          A messi like player… I feel sorry for pakistan, the weights of his shoulders. Oh and Xavi knows everything

    • March 16, 2012

      Enjoy it, while it lasts 😛

      The BPL worked wonders for your team it seems..

    • messifan
      March 16, 2012

      Don’t anything about cricket but congrats!

    • Jafri
      March 16, 2012

      Congratulations! Shakib’s truly world class.

  17. Anonymous_69
    March 16, 2012

    Adriano will become a more important player now. But in the big matches, I think we still need to play a defensive left back to complement Alves. I don’t mind the idea of the Puyol-Pique-Mascherano-Alves defense. Puyol might struggle for pace, but he will add all of Abidal’s defensive security (on the ground and in the air), and that’s something Adriano can’t offer. The best thing possible would be for Muniesa to make Cuenca/Tello esque jump to the first team, and make the LB spot his own.

  18. simple_barcafan
    March 16, 2012

    might be a Barca – EE final..I would have preferred playing them over two legs than one. Two legged affair favor us, EE will be more happy with a one legged affair.

    • stowe
      March 17, 2012

      I would say just the opposite. Mourinho won’t be able to play a bus. They have to score to win. An open match favors us

    • Jafri
      March 16, 2012

      Freakin love Dongou. Hope he gets first team action soon!

    • blitzen
      March 16, 2012

      . . .

      I so want to read it.

      But the last time I clicked on The Age it was hosting a malware virus. Dammit.

      Must. Not Click.

      Can you summarize?

      • mom4
        March 16, 2012

        Oh great, I already clicked on it. You couldn’t have posted about an hour sooner. Daggone laptop’s on it’s last legs as it is. sigh

        Basically says that Dongou is the best thing since sliced bread and he is more impressed with him at this age than he was with Messi at the same age.

        Speaking of Graham Hunter, I checked out his Twitter today. He was having a blast with that “I am Zlatan” cartoon you or Kari posted several months ago.

        • blitzen
          March 16, 2012

          Oh I know. That never gets old. Can’t believe he hadn’t seen it before. 😆

  19. mom4
    March 16, 2012

    So for Milan I hope Pep goes with the “we aint messin’ around” lineup of:
    Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Puyol
    Busi, Xaviniesta
    Alexis, Messi, fill in the blank

    I hope Pep incorporates some of the Bs for the league. We’re gonna hafta blood them pretty quickly because Adriano is our last real defender, Busi is our last makeshift defender, and although Puyol can play anywhere on the backline, he can’t play everywhere on the backline. Thank the Lord that Puyol and Adriano are so versatile.

    We’ll win because the guys’ll be doing it for Abi.

    • March 16, 2012

      Although its too far away to say for sure, if the first match (away) was tomorrow I’d fill in the blank with Pedro or Adriano

  20. March 16, 2012

    Don’t go by the 7-0 hiding laid out to Basel, Bayern have enough defensive problems to even think of beating EE. As for us, Milan and Chelsea/Benfica will be sapping to say the least. The only good thing to come out of this draw is that we, again, play the 2nd leg(s) at home..

  21. Dani_el
    March 16, 2012

    “Barça will play in Milan for CL one day before the general strike. This could be another problematic travel for Barça because of the general strike planned in Spain march the 29th(…) Maybe national airports will be affected, and this could delay the first team’s comeback.”

    The good thing, is that it will be aafter the game…we’ll see. I would have prefered EE now. Still, I believe we can win this one!
    Visca el Barça!

  22. Helge
    March 16, 2012

    Just booked my ICE ticket to Munich!

    Hopefully Barca will be there and I can squander my salary on the black market 🙂
    If not, I’m very sure EE will be there. I’ll take some foul eggs with me.

    • Chiu
      March 17, 2012

      Barca vs Bayern or Barca vs EE in Munich would be equally amazing spectacle. Good luck 🙂

      • Helge
        March 18, 2012

        Thanks, I can surely need some luck if I am to find an affordable ticket 🙂
        I am not able to spend more than 200€ on it …

  23. Helge
    March 16, 2012

    …but no clear favorite emerges there simply because Bayern Munich is fighting to play the final in their own stadium.

    and because they are la Bestia Negra for EE 🙂

  24. messifan
    March 16, 2012

    So for the game tomorrow, my prefer lineup would be:


    Subs: Cesc, Tello and Muniesa

    Not sure what Sevilla are like under their new coach but they have Navas and maybe Javi Varas will start between the posts. They will probably park the bus and counter-attack. For some reasons, I feel that Sevilla and the other white team have a close relationship, so by default they are my second least favorite team in Spain.

    Just take it one game at a time and let’s win 🙂
    The game is at 3pm EST.

    • Chiu
      March 17, 2012

      And we have a full week rest before tonight encounter with Sevilla. Hopefully we can unleash our best form again and take home the 3 point. Keep pressuring EE that will play the day after. And win it for Abidal! Anims Abi

  25. Dave
    March 17, 2012

    How are Rafinha and Deulofeu going this year?

    • nzm
      March 17, 2012

      Moments of brilliance seguing into periods of mundaneness.

      Deulofeu is actually getting longer periods of playing time at the moment because of Tello’s call-up to the first team, so hopefully with more match time he can get some form back.

      Something isn’t gelling in the Barca B team right now. It contains a lot of talent but it’s not being used in the right way, in my opinion.

      When you watch a lot of Barca games throughout the ranks of all the Barca teams from the Benjamin teams all the way up, (which I can do because I get Barca TV in Barcelona), Barca B is the team which stands out as not really playing true to the Barca way.

      They play a faster running game and rely on playing wide; utilising the wingers a lot more. It’s not a bad thing, but they do tend to lose the ball a lot more, and that puts pressure on the backline which has proven to be pretty weak at times.

      I think that their different playing style (when compared to other Barca teams) comes from Eusebio’s influence. Their lack of consistent performance comes from their ranks being frequently pillaged by the Barca first team! It must be hard to form a cohesive unit in Barca B when they never know which of their players will be doing first team time each week.

    • blitzen
      March 17, 2012

      Agree with nzm.

      Deulofeu was supposed to be the “next big thing” for the B team, but is having some trouble settling in. Not because he isn’t playing well, he is, and there have been some games lately when he has been by far the best forward on the field–but he just doesn’t seem quite comfortable in his skin. My personal suspicion is that his body has been going through some physical changes–he has thickened out and looks more “solid” than last year–and he is having trouble adjusting to that. With more playing time this problem should pass.

      Rafinha has all the talent in the world, but something is not gelling in the way he is being used on the pitch. He should be a standout player, but often slips into invisibility. I think in order for him to shine, the B team needs to slow their game down and concentrate more on possession. Like nzm said, this current B team loses the ball too much and ends up running end-to-end. If Eusebio is staying on, then Pep needs to sit down with him and reeducate him on how Barça plays football.

  26. mom4
    March 17, 2012

    barcastuff ‏ @barcastuff
    Abidal will get part of the liver of a childhood friend of his. All medical and legal tests have already been done. #animsabidal [abc]

    Wow. Just wow.

    • barca96
      March 17, 2012

      The story just can’t get better and better. What a heart warming story, first the club knowing that he already is in need of a liver since last June and yet renew him and now his friend. Wow..

      • flyzowee
        March 17, 2012

        This is dangerous. I hope Abi and his friend both come out well and there are no regrets afterwards.

  27. Laurentiu88
    March 17, 2012

    watching Milan at Parma now… let’s see our future opponents …

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