AC Milan – Barcelona: CL Quarter Final Liveblog 1.0

Not much to say today. Huge match.

 

Starting XI: Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Puyol, Busquets, Xavi, Keita, Sanchez, Messi, Iniesta

Bench: Pinto, Muniesa, Montoya, Thiago, Fabregas, Pedro, Tello,

Milan XI: Abbiati, Mexès, Nesta, Bonera, Antonini, Seedorf, Nocerino, Ambrosini, Boateng, Ibrahimović and Robinho

 

The liveblog will start 10 minutes before the match, which is at 2:45 EST

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225 Comments

  1. March 29, 2012

    Why are people talking about Pep’s mistake of playing two DM? Did he? Or is it just because Keita played, then it is 2 DM? Why not talking about 3 DMs then considering the fact that Mascherano played as well?

    In fact, the reason why we had lots of troubles was that Keita played on the WING instead of playing as a Box2Box midfielder – especially in the first half.

    The match will be decided at Camp Nou, Barca’s home. Thinking that a CL battle against a team like Milan should be done and dusted in Milan is too casual.

    If Barcelona can’t win at home, they don’t deserve to qualify. Simple. The neutralized (0-0) away game has nothing to do with it.

    • March 29, 2012

      Truth!

    • mom4
      March 29, 2012

      Ramzi, the voice of reason, dropping truth bombs!

    • Helge
      March 29, 2012

      You have foreseen this match to be like this, right? 🙂
      You also got the line-up right, apart from Iniesta and Sanchez switching the flanks.

      I really don’t know why Keita played as a winger in the first half, and it felt like Iniesta was also playing as a left winger. Nonetheless, it didn’t come much from the left side. Seemed almost like two wasted players …

      I’ve read the preview on the offside and you were preaching about patience. That gives me confidence!

    • cliveee
      March 29, 2012

      just needs some footballmood 🙂

  2. TITO
    March 29, 2012

    I can’t believe what some people here are writing. I also don’t like it when we don’t play the way we are used to do, but to go to Milan, even as a weakened side, and try to attack because is our philosophy is pure madness and totally unacceptable.
    Pep knew what he was up to, bad pitch, tight defense (they were defending with lines of 4 players), hostile crowd and undisputable quality of Milan, so he chosed to play the way we did. And it almost got us a great result if it wasn’t our bad finishing.
    I remember one chance when Xavi played 1-2 with Messi and he shot poorly from 10meters which in other games would have been goal.
    We got a 0-0 in Milan against the toughest opponent left in the KO stages (Bayern just got in form again and RM are our bitches) and now we play in Camp Nou.
    This result is also a befenfitial because we will stay alert knowing nothing is done. If we got a one goal lead taking home, i’m sure our concentration would have been lower (like against Milan few years back, and this year against RM in the coppa).
    Home crowd, familiar pitch, wider one and a slitghly differnet set-up will give us what we want.
    Nothing in life is granted, so if we want it, we have to fight for it. I believe in this team, even when things don’t go our way we still manage to do something because we have exceptional coach and players.
    We were wondering who’s is going to replace Puyol, well, it’s clear that it’s going to be Masch and he looks like a perfect replacement for years to come.

  3. TITO
    March 29, 2012

    And one other thing, Iniesta didn’t played at all like a winger or something, but he was more involved in the middle.

  4. Dani_el
    March 29, 2012

    Talking about Keita, I read this from clever journalist Marti Perarnau:

    “September the 13th, 2011. Pep Guardiola enters the dressing room after the Barça-Milan game and says to his technical staff: “Remind me to never take out Keita from a game like this with a tight score”. (Not a textual quote). Keita played 67 minutes in that game at Camp Nou (2-2). Pep replaced him and Milan scored the tie in a bad defended corner, a good heading by Thiago Silva. Pep has not forgotten what he considers a serious mistake by him, and confirmed it today by putting Keita on the field for 90 minutes, the whole game: in a game like this with a tight score.”

    I don’t think Keita played a bad game, he was asked to cover defensively the left side helping Puyi, and on the attack he played out of position, and he made a few good runs that nobody noticed. Not even Xavi. We lacked movement, and instead of having one touch to control the ball, we had to make 2 touches, and then pass, and that slows down our usual dynamic, one touch football is our credo, but it seems to be hard to do that on a pitch like this.

    Masche was superb though! He may not be catalan, and may not have Puyol’s on-field leadership skills, but if he keeps this level, we have a center back for the next 5 years at least.

    Next week we will play in Camp Nou with an awesome pitch, one touch football, more dynamic movements, and we may play with Adriano on the left wing to provide width. In Pep I trust. Vamos!

  5. Oil_Can
    March 29, 2012

    Well, all I can say is that it was a decent result for us. It wasn’t a good performance to watch on the television but we didn’t look that bad either. Milan were very organised and when they had chances to counter they looked eager.

    some pointers:

    -Our game was nothing new, we still dominated possession like we always do and we managed to break through Milan’s defence on a few occasions but we never took advantage.

    -Our defence was extremely focused today, especially Mascherano and Pique who made Milan’s attack look like nothing.

    -Keita was probably our best Midfielder in terms of overall contribution and effectiveness.

    -Our biggest weapon today was possession, factors like the pitch and the way Milan switched from high pressing to bus parking, I could see why we played a little conservative today.

    -Its sad but true, the refs nowadays are not going to give us penalties no matter how clear they are, the players have realised this ages ago and well they live with it.

    -The camp nou is going to cater to us more than Milan. The pitch factor greatly increases our passing ability and surely we may see a lot more off the ball movement in the front third. Milan can defend just as well as they did last night but the fact is that we will eventually break them at the camp nou.

    -expect us to have more possession, more passing accuracy and more created chances at home. The more possession we hold the less chances Milan can create, and if our defence is as good at then it was last night—->>> WE WILL WIN!

    -WHY PEP STARTED KEITA? because hes been doing this since the start of his era at barca. Go back and watch our 08-09 away CL games, the team thrives on Keita’s game.

  6. March 29, 2012

    Umm why the panic guys we always draw away and go medieval on asses at home in CL knockouts.

    • Gogah
      March 29, 2012

      we always draw away, but we usually score an away goal, hence the concern.

      • ooga aga
        March 29, 2012

        if we tied 1-1 in milan that would only protect us in the case of a 0-0 or 1-1 at home. we will score at least 2 at home. we just need to score one more than them, and we will.

  7. Peterj
    March 29, 2012

    Wtf were u when he was scoring hat-tricks?…now he’s gone off the boil after one bad match…smh at some barca fans

  8. Peterj
    March 29, 2012

    with all due respect,i think u are a joke…are u even a professional player or coach?and were u the one that invented barca’s style of play?

    • March 29, 2012

      “with all due respect,i think u are a joke…”

      English is a very confusing language for none english speakers like me…

    • March 29, 2012

      Your comment and the awful language you chose to use are completely unacceptable on this site.

      Do not use this kind of personally insulting language again. If that’s the kind of comment you want to make please do so on another site. There are many of them on the internet. This is not one of them.

  9. y2k156
    March 29, 2012

    Tough pitch and tough match. Decent result though a scored draw would have been better for us. Even a scored defeat by a goal.

    While Barca did get some wrong calls, Milan also blew couple of gilt edged chances which would have put the cat in the barn.

    As for pessimism on this forum, hard to understand.

    Milan defended extremely well. They have experienced guys who are good defenders and they defended deep. It is not easy to break such defenses.

    As for some above slagging Messi, i do not understand. The guy played as well as anyone in our team. He was behind most of our dangerous moves. Mascha and Pique also had excellent games.

    This is only QF still in balance. Well, winning big ears is not supposed to be easy.

  10. Srini
    March 29, 2012

    Missed the game. But can’t understand the panic. Barca was 1-2 after the Arsenal first leg last year and 0-1 down early in the second leg. And they won the Champions League last season.

    I don’t think “panic” is a word that can be associated with Barcelona’s present squad.

  11. yassir (Formerly Extreme barca fan)
    March 29, 2012

    Just to clear some misconception: THE CAMP NOU PITCH IS NOT WIDER THAN THE ONE AT SAN SIRO, UEFA DEMANDS PICHES TO BE 105M*68M.
    I hope this is clear enough to any one who still thinks our pitch is wider or larger.

    • Emeka
      March 29, 2012

      That’s the maximum dimensions. could be less.

  12. mom4
    March 29, 2012

    A gracious good morning to y’all.

    Got some of that out of your systems?

    We have 2 days between last night’s game and Athletic Club. Yeah, the Basques are coming and that’s always a walk in the park (sarcasm font intended). Then we have 2 days to prepare for the Italians. Praise God both of those games are at home! So if we got off that poor excuse for a pitch last night and Messi has two ankles, Xavi has two Achilles tendons, Pique can still waka waka, Puyi has all his hair left, and we are alive to fight another day good for us.

    One of the reasons many of us love this team is for their style of play. We take skill over muscle, talent over height, patient tiki taka build-up over route 1. If the ball hops up on us at every touch our game is gonna suffer.

    We escaped unscathed physically, and with no deficit to overcome. Not the best result, but a damn good one.

    It is unfair to demand perfection in every situation and set of circumstances.

    If we can’t beat Milan at home, we don’t deserve to be in the semis.

    • Helge
      March 29, 2012

      And Athletic has only one day! 🙂

      I’m a bit confused with Atheltic Bilbao. I saw them play against United, an absolute dominant performance of class, and effort.
      But in the league they were very poor lately.
      Will they show the Manchester face today, against Schalke? Or will they show it on Saturday against us?
      Or may they even never show it again?
      I hope they kick Schalke out of the EL with a splendid performance. Maybe they focus on the EL this season – then I expect an easy and energy-saving match against them on Saturday. (but the problem is, they could easily miss out on the EL unless they win it or start to play their best football in la Liga).

  13. March 29, 2012

    It is quite strange! Was Sanchez supposed to be a better wing player than David Villa? When Villa was fit that was the reason why everyone wanted him to start ahead of Villa. I have no idea what has happened since. Once Villa got injured, Sanchez has been doing more of a centre role than the winger. Why is it so?

    The pitch played it’s part in our problem. You can’t deny that. May be we have to start getting accustomed to it. I am expecting that more of our rivals will leave the pitch dry to cut our speed.

    • flyzowee
      March 29, 2012

      Whats happening with sanchez is what happens with all direct penetrative players when they play for barca.

      They get told that only Messi has leeway to lose the ball over and over and over again.

      The rest of you strikers are primarily facilitors and secondly ball chasers.

      This may dissapoint you but it has to be this way coz our defence cant play traditional defence thus our striking department is the most risk averse area in the team.

      Ibra, Villa, affelay, sanchez, Fab4 etc. The stellar performances of these players at their previous clubs was one reason for their purchase.

      And yet when they arrive we proceed to suck the life out of them?

      Maybe im not seeing things clearly. But if im right then this aint helping and smth needs to be done.

      • Peterj
        March 29, 2012

        O-M-freaking-G at u!..why dont u go bench messi then?

      • flyzowee
        March 29, 2012

        Its not about benching Messi. Its about allowing our strikers to play to their strengths a bit more instead of always supressing them to fit the system and Messi.

        We all know sanchez is a great dribbler. Look at his very 1st game at the bernabeu for example and compare it to present sanchez. The diff is huge.

        This present sanchez looks scared Imo and thinks too much. Every time we are on the break and sanchez tries to do smth creative with the ball and loses it. Messi is up in arms

        I understand why these giveaways are costly but I just cant help but feel that Messis margin for error is considerably wider than all our other FWDS combined (Yes seriously!) and this for me is why at times this season our fwds look like they have abandoned their natural strikers instinct in favour of overthinking (ALL IMHO)

      • Jim
        March 29, 2012

        I find it hard to believe we have limited Sanchez in that way. However, as I’ve said before he has been a bit of a disappointment for me in that the YouTube clips I watched of him before all emphasised his dribbling abilities yet we haven’t seen them. I didn’t even think we saw much of them in the game you mentioned. Add that to the sight of him last night clean through on goal but unable to pull away from the defender and that’s an issue. Not sure if he’s still worried about hamstring trouble or if he has a confidence issue but unless he can up it a bit he’ll struggle. I have been impressed by the number of goals he has scored though. Didn’t expect that.

  14. aaron88
    March 29, 2012

    Such negativity! It was an extremely frustrating match to watch. Strong, physical defending by Milan.

    Surprised that there is little mention of the lack of Abidal. Tactically that was a big miss. No he is not a Dani Alves player, but his runs on the left would have made a big help to get us away centrally. Puyol, made one run?

    • Helge
      March 29, 2012

      I think Adriano can help us a lot in the 2nd leg.

      I want to see Iniesta in the middle, Sanchez and Adriano left, and Pedro on the right for the return leg.

      And I want to see Iniesta, Messi and the other good dribblers simply go past the likes of Ambrosini, because they simply can. C’mon, it’s Ambrosini, with all due respect!
      I can see how we failed to bea the Inter defense, but this Milan defense is a joke compared to Inter under Mourinho! If we cannot score against them thrice in the 2nd leg, we don’t deserve to go further, to be honest.

      • aaron88
        March 29, 2012

        yes definitely agreed. A healthy Adriano will be big.

        Of course they can go bast the likes of Ambrosini, but how many times was Messi(or Xavi or..)surrounded by 5 players near the box?!

      • Jim
        March 29, 2012

        I actually thought they defended really, really well. It’s not just about getting numbers back. They showed intelligence in the way they constantly shuffled around to deny us any space and even managed to keep their shape for the second ball and get tackles in.

  15. March 29, 2012

    I really disagree with many of the comments in this thread.

    It’s not that unexpected a result. Optimal? No. But Barca were never going to go to the San Siro and just win 3-0 or something. That just wasn’t going to happen.

    As y2k156 said – yes it would have been much better to have scored an away goal but such is life. Milan played very well. I was impressed.

    Regarding Keita – I don’t understand this at all. First of all – he is not a “DM” nor was that the role he was playing last night.

    Keita also wasn’t going to play a typical box to box role yesterday. Not with Iniesta in front of him constantly cutting into the middle and Puyol behind him, who as great as he is isn’t a true LB.

    Keita’s job was a tactical one on the left flank. He did what Pep wanted him to do.

    So rather than criticize Keita you really should criticize Pep.

    If you are going to criticize Keita you can just as easily criticize Busquets. In fact in many way Busquets played a more concerning match.

    Busi was his usual peerless self when Milan was pressing high. In that situation – he’s the best holding player in the world.

    But we see this over and over. When teams defend deep and maintain shape pure ball circulation from deep midfield isn’t particularly critical – especially when the team already has Xavi.

    Busquets offers so little attacking thrust. He rarely looks to create any kind of dangerous move. He doesn’t shoot from outside the box. The opposition defensive block is constructed in ways which assume he’s not going to be any threat.

    So if you want to start yelling about Keita – then you really should be right there yelling about Busquets.

    The fundamental issue in this match was the lack of attacking thrust off the flanks. That’s where there was space to be had. Instead the team just kept insisting on threading the ball through the middle.

    More than Keita, Iniesta and Sanchez’s role and play were in question.

    I also don’t think this is an issue of Messi himself not playing well. His teammates didn’t help him enough. And when the team senses it is in trouble they start looking for Leo even more and more.

    • Helge
      March 29, 2012

      So would Cesc have been a viable option, maybe even for Busquets?

      • March 29, 2012

        At home that would have been a viable strategy to me. Though I think it would be better to move iniesta back to MF and put on a true winger/wide attacker.

        Keita has advantages over Busi at DM against teams that park the bus. Keita will make great runs from deep. Busi rarely looks to do that.

  16. Manish
    March 29, 2012

    With a pitch like that anyone who’s played football would know it is easier to defend than move the ball around.. get a life guys.. we will win at Camp Nou.. easy easy..

  17. mega_tajh
    March 29, 2012

    I didn’t notice it before but this is the 1st time in Champions League History that no 1st leg home team scored a goal.

    • Helge
      March 29, 2012

      And it’s not even that surprising!

      The semi-finals will be fun this year, but the quarterfinals are rather boring, with the exception of one match.

      • mega_tajh
        March 29, 2012

        If I was a neutral I would be very disappointed in this years competition, with the biggest high profile game also lacking.

        The commentators on my channel yesterday were also picking at straws in what to discuses on both match days.

        To the extent they had to discuss Madrid 6 points lead in La Liga and everything about Madrid reaching the FINALS against Bayern Munich, which they seem unaware that that couldn’t happen.

  18. Blau-Grenade
    March 29, 2012

    I enjoyed the match quite a bit. Milan really took the game to Barca. They were a great side last night. I love these matches that have an unfinished story to them, rather than a manita type of a match. I have to give credit to Milan for playing well.

  19. cuqui
    March 29, 2012

    A strangely passive game by Barca. Found myself yelling at the television when for the umpteenth time Xavi or Messi or Alves would just stop a forward run and pull the ball back, giving ACM a chance to park its bus. Oh well.

    But the reason I’m posting is to acknowledge Clarence Seedorf. What a game. What a career. Turns 36 this weekend if the commentators were correct. I only wish I’d seen more of him when he was younger.

    • blitzen
      March 29, 2012

      Seedorf is the reason I decided to DL this game (since I couldn’t watch live). Might not get too many more chances to see him in action.

      • ooga aga
        March 29, 2012

        when i first started watching barca, seedorf was running around for real madrid with his buxom dreadlocks flowing behind him. yes, he has a past with the EE. and yet i still like him. have you ever seen him do studio commentary. seems like an intelligent, nice guy. and you can see the respect and love he got from the barca players after the game. class.

  20. Manish
    March 29, 2012

    Important Cesc didn’t play.. we need fresh legs for the match against Bilbao…

  21. jclemmons
    March 29, 2012

    The compulsive nail-biting and defeatism after defeats is annoying but so is the “let’s not criticize anything!” attitudes. We’re all in the same boat here, people.

    I think it’s less the playing of Keita that wasn’t a mistake but HOW he was played. Check the heat maps in incremental 5-10 min portions of the game and you’ll see that at times he’s playing too advanced, often confusing (purposely?) positions, ones that kind of call into question the role of Iniesta. My friend remarked to me at one point at why Keita was playing center forward, and, lo and behold, Keita was the highest person up the pitch, even moreso than Alexis and Messi!

    I think Cesc would have been better, even if we would have lost some of our “steel.” I also would have sat Alexis, since the line was too deep for his darting runs and Cuenca would have been a better choice.

  22. March 29, 2012

    Flyzowee makes an interesting, though blasphemous, point with the comment that might have gotten lost in the hubbub:

    Whats happening with sanchez is what happens with all direct penetrative players when they play for barca.

    They get told that only Messi has leeway to lose the ball over and over and over again.

    The rest of you strikers are primarily facilitors and secondly ball chasers.

    This may dissapoint you but it has to be this way coz our defence cant play traditional defence thus our striking department is the most risk averse area in the team.

    Ibra, Villa, affelay, sanchez, Fab4 etc. The stellar performances of these players at their previous clubs was one reason for their purchase.

    And yet when they arrive we proceed to suck the life out of them?

    Maybe im not seeing things clearly. But if im right then this aint helping and smth needs to be done.

    –Euler’s comment was also spot on. I Tweeted about needing to do something to resolve the Messi business. We’re riding our golden calf into the ground. We looked a lot like Argentina yesterday, in that we dumped the ball to Messi and said “Do something!” What is he going to do, fronted by excellent, physical defenders such as Nesta? Exactly what he did. Get stopped. It’s for the other players to step up. Tello knocked me out because he did what he usually does. Ball. Net. I’m going that way. See you there. Messi yelled at him for shooting, which didn’t make me happy. Tello was doing something, trying to make a difference instead of just passing the ball around, waiting for the perfect path to goal. Make no mistake, I think we put the boot to them at home. No doubt.

    –UEFA has requested an official explanation from Milan about the state of the pitch.

    • March 29, 2012

      May be true of Ibra and to a lesser extent Villa, but not the others.

      Sanchez — played as a winger at Udinese, often plays up top for Barca, and in some games plays 10 yds ahead of Messi and is the primary goal threat. Scored 12 goals in 27 starts for Udinese, has 12 in 23 for Barca.

      Fabregas — Has less license to go wherever the hell wants, yes, but when he plays the tip of the 4 in the 3-4-3 or plays up front in a 4-3-3 has plenty of license to roam and be free. Has scored and assisted more for Barca than he ever did for Arsenal.

      Afellay — not enough games.

      Even on Villa, by the way, he scored more than 20 goals last season and was more than happy to play the wing and be conservative with the ball.

      The only guy who really suffered was Ibra, and that’s more b/c of his ego than anything Pep did or said.

      • mom4
        March 29, 2012

        The only thing that worries me about Sanchez is that recently he’s gotten the ball in very advanced positions several times and went into the oh no I’ve got the ball what do I do with it brain fart mode. It’s like he second guesses himself and then the opportunity to pass is gone. Then again, I might be seeing things that aren’t really there.

  23. cuqui
    March 29, 2012

    The boys at grantland.com have a match review up, very much Run-of-Play-esque for those who fancy their style.

    Worth it alone for this extract:

    “Now Keita is playing more or less up front. Incidentally, there’s a Keita goal from when he was on Sevilla where hits a shot so fast I think Chuck Yeager was a passenger on it. It nearly caved in the back of the Real Madrid goal and the Spanish announcers made such a Linda-Blair-Exorcist-voice-remixed-by-Skrillex sound it still haunts me to this day.”

    Said golazo aqui:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=vORRxvm94TM#t=118s

    • Nik
      March 29, 2012

      Coincidentally enough, one of the writers of the piece is the guy that runs Run of Play (Brian Phillips).

      • Ryan
        March 29, 2012

        You mean the former Run of Play, as he’s stopped updating the site and is now solely on Twitter.

      • Nik
        March 29, 2012

        Yeah, that’s what I meant. Oops.

      • Ryan
        March 29, 2012

        Hopefully he comes back someday, as his articles were always a great read.

      • messifan
        March 29, 2012

        He has a tumblr called Run of Play. Check his twitter for the link. It’s similar to the website.

      • cuqui
        March 29, 2012

        Brian writes regularly for Grantland, has Run of Play on tumblr, and tweets a lot. Hope they can morph Run of Play back to its earlier incarnation although I’ll say the tumblr site’s photos/captions of Pele and Cristiano are priceless.

  24. barca96
    March 29, 2012

    Tello created more chances in his brief stint than Sanchez did for his time on the pitch, and Mascherano was comprehensively boss.

    A few weeks back you said that you still don’t have the answer why Cesc was worth that much, I wanted to reply and say that I feel the same way about Alexis.

    I seriously haven’t seen much of him apart from the Clasico in the beginning of the season and a few matches where he scored.

    I know I know he works his socks off but doesn’t Pedro do the same thing?

    And before he was signed most of the folks when it was Alexis vs. Rossi debate was going on, were saying that Alexis could beat a man and I have seen clips of that as well but how come he never takes on a man in La Liga? Are the defenders in the Serie A that weak?

    I asked the same question when Ibra was with us. How come he doesn’t take on defenders anymore like he does with Inter??

    Back to Alexis, I think Cesc already partly justified his cost by scoring crucial goals in the Supercup and some other matches to win us a cup.

    – Why on earth didn’t they play the ball to the right or left to create width? Alves was always free on the right but yet Messi and Xavi ignored him and instead played through the middle where there are 4-5 defenders waiting while Alves was unmarked on the right.

    – I think I can understand now why Iniesta was so cautious last night. He kept on passing the ball back and didn’t dribble because of the state of the pitch. It doesn’t suit his style.

    – Messi needs to stop picking on Tello. He was screaming at the boy against Sevilla as well. Same case, he had a good look at the goal and of course took a shot like last night.

    • March 29, 2012

      Hard to argue with your Sanchez assessment. But I’d say that Sanchez has significantly more up side than Fabregas, who I think we bought at his best, which ain’t worth 50m.

      • jordi™
        March 29, 2012

        The price was actually 34 million plus 5 in variables.Remember Sandro boasting about how he said he wouldn’t spend more than 40 and how he managed to commit to it by an entire one million euro.

  25. Laurentiu88
    March 29, 2012

    I think we had a great game, sure maybe it could have been even better but except for the usual first minutes there were only a few chances Milan had, the clearest coming from a Xavi miss-control in the middle. In the end we did dominate the game but Milan defended really well and maybe Pep did not wish to risk conceding a goal…

    I still think the state of the pitch played a decisive factor, as our players were not able to control the balls, to deliver short passes – basically our whole game suffered. For this i am really confident of the return leg. The only problem seems to be Ibra winning every high ball and managing to pass it, this allowed Milan a safe exit from defense and a sure pressure on us.

    Hope Nou Camp allows us to play with extra man up front and I am sure we’ll get the job done!

    Not to complain about ref’s anymore but all the vast decisions went against us: Messi’s sandwich which was not even a foul, Puyol pull, Sanchez (note how he can’t control a pass Ffcking pitch), then there was a second yellow for their captain when he kicked Busi in the face. I guess it happens. But we must underline this just for some people of Goal.com not to think that we only win in UCL with ref help (they made fun of APOEL saying sooner bara gets a bad ref decision then they might win with RM). And that Nesta foul on Messi?

    Anyway.. how cool is this: from Guardian MBM

    “I’m watching the game in a cafe in Taroudant, Morocco,” announces Gavin McGowan. “All the seats are packed together in rows like a cinema. They’re mad for Barça here. I was in the Astlas mountains earlier today and saw a bloke on a donkey in a Xavi shirt. From a straw pole I’d say the ratio of Barça-Real fans is 4:1. I’d like to offer a deep socio-political rason for this, based perhaps on a history of colonialism which manifests itself in sympathy with the Catalan cause, but in truth it seems that like the rest of the world everyone just loves the way Barça play.”

    Can we conclude that Milan were more afraid of us than Apoel of RM? 🙂

    • nzm
      March 29, 2012

      Cool! Off to Morocco tomorrow. This makes me more confident that we’re going to find somewhere to watch Barca’s games while we’re there for the next 7 days! 😀

  26. messifan
    March 29, 2012

    I’m tactically inept, so I can’t say much about the game.

    But it’s okay BFBers, we didn’t play well due to a variety of factors. Hopefully, Pep and the team will correct their mistakes.

    To put this in perspective, look at Abidal, a footballer, and after his transplant, he’ll mostly likely not play another professional match again. There will always be a Barcelona match. Win, draw or lose, there’s the next game for us fans to see 🙂

  27. Cule
    March 29, 2012

    I dont understand how people can complain about the state of the pitch. Both sides share whatever disadvantage the quality of the pitch gives.

    • ooga aga
      March 29, 2012

      No. crap pitch conditions favor the less technical, more physical side. and when taken to an extreme, the bad conditions can lead to injuries and also reduce the enjoyment for fans watching the game….as pep correctly pointed out. if it werent for paying spectators, the game would not be taking place.

    • Ryan
      March 29, 2012

      Milan were playing a really aerial game – boot it to Ibra who would usually win the ball and then hope he can do something with it. That kind of strategy is much less affected by a rough pitch. They still suffered from the pitch with the slipping and sliding though.

  28. March 29, 2012

    Whats happening with sanchez is what happens with all direct penetrative players when they play for barca.

    I really don’t think this is the case. Rember – Sanchez last season blossomed as a trequarista at udinese. He only scored 12 goals-4 of which came in one match.

    When you watch his outstanding passing game in advanced spaces – it feels like a natural progression and development of his game from last season in that trequarista role.

    The challenge for Sanchez from the start was to diversify his game in line with what people see as the large scope of his talent.

    And I think he’s started that process. Is there completely there yet? No. But there have been real positives.

    Now many have been struck by how well Sanchez has fit into the system. And I think he’s bent over backwards to do so. He’s really looked to be unselfish and play pass first football while also working very hard.

    But there’s a trade off to that process of integration. At times he’s too unselfish. The milan match was an example of that.

    This is a system issue not an issue of Messi per se. I really don’t think this gets down to him as an individual. Think that’s an example of people pinning a systems issue to one person.

    I think it would be a mistake to turn this into some generalization at the individual level.

    The system needs to evolve. Messi’s passing game has been instrumental to how it has responded since losing Eto’o and Henry. But there’s still work to be done.

    • March 29, 2012

      Should also add – a major issue with Sanchez’s game right now is related to the number of matches he’s missed to injury.

      Every time he’s gotten into a flow he’s gotten injured and missed times.

      Even yesterday- he still didn’t look completely in form and in match rhythm. He hasn’t been long back from that last injury.

    • March 29, 2012

      Too much is being made out of Messi yelling at Tello. Like Ahsan said-Tello there actually did take a poor shot. There was almost no way that was going to go in from that angle.

      He did a good job committing the defender and creating penetration. But the defender had him set up to move into a poor angle.

      Tello should have played the ball back.

      • nzm
        March 29, 2012

        Agreed. In an earlier reply to Roberto Senyera, I stated that Tello should do what Messi was coaching Cuenca to do – look up and around to spot who’s free and with a better angle on goal. No way was Tello going to get that shot in from there with a defender pushing him out further to the left.

    • nzm
      March 29, 2012

      Yes – I think that the “unselfishness” trait is something from which both Sanchez and Cesc suffer. They both need to re-train themselves to be ok to shoot for goal without thinking about Messi.

  29. ooga aga
    March 29, 2012

    not to yell, but WHAT IS GOING ON WITH ABIDAL? WASNT HE GOING TO HAVE HIS PROCEDURE YESTERDAY OR THE DAY BEFORE?

    • March 29, 2012

      I suspect that they are keeping that matter close to the vest, in the interest of privacy.

      • ooga aga
        March 29, 2012

        good point.

  30. March 29, 2012

    What’s interesting is that neutrals thought it was a brilliant match, with chances, great plays and great defense. Just goes to show what being a fan can do, right? The Zonal Marking guy was looking forward very much to watching it again, even though he knew the outcome. And I must say, most 0-0 matches are boring as spit. This one sure wasn’t.

  31. TITO
    March 29, 2012

    I was also mad at him for shouting at Tello when he took that shot. Tello did what a striker should do in that situation, try to pass the opponent and shoot.

    • March 29, 2012

      Not from that angle though, and certainly not from his left foot. Very few keepers are going to be beaten near post like that. The cutback to Messi was the better option.

  32. TITO
    March 29, 2012

    I disagree. He shows belief and he should take advantage of that. He got the skills, the speed and the shooting for aiming that kind of a shot. If someone else did that, everybody was going to praise the guy for trying, but not this youngster.
    He shows determination which is more than some others show in our attack. He is a direct player and i like that because sometimes we need something different in our forward line instead of tiki taka up to the goal line.

    • Jim
      March 29, 2012

      I’d have agreed he was right to take it on if he had hit it across goal to the far post but nothing good was going to happen from that position the way he hit it. In general, he has impressed me with his pace but his stepover still needs work. He seems to take too hard a touch and rely on pace to get to the byeline before the defender. That will become easier to defend as they get used to it. He needs to be able to go either way with just a slight variation in movement which he doesn’t have yet. Breath of fresh air with his attacking mentality though.

  33. March 29, 2012

    Wait, lemme check the score again. Its still 0-0. Phew! With the kind of negativity on the blog, I thought we conceded a couple of goals while I was away..

  34. lyd
    March 29, 2012

    Loving the comments here. I’ll try to add more fuel to the fire.

    Kxevin pointed out the Messi problem/Messi dependencia. I personally think its more due to Alvez’s dependency on Messi to make noticeable impact, which is contributing more to the Messi problem. IMO, Alvez should learn to pick his moments carefully to avoid predictability in games like these, when they decides to park the bus. When Xavi releases pressure with a diagonal ball to Alvez, he is not necessarily asking Alvez to link up with his best friend Messi immediately or cross it to the box. Dani should know all that by now. In games like these, Messi can choose to make his darting runs wisely. Pick those moments when they are momentarily tired (But Leo is Leo, we should only watch him, like Pep said!), say the ball has oscillated 3-4 times horizontally, +25 passes completed. Then you might get to hear Abbiati scream a caution to his mates, “Brace yourself guys, Messi is coming” 😉

    – What Iniesta and Xavi did well was noticeable. They took shots from long, not their biggest strength but that was a good investment strategy, which basically made Milan sitting so deep and not closing down earlier, a bit risky. I wonder why Keita didnt take shots. This can be his only criticism from my side.

    – Against Parked buses, Busi is not useful really (Euler mentioned it here and previously), so what can be done? Its not like Busi would learn be effective overnight, but it remains a problem. Can Masche swap roles? i dont know. But Masche has his little dribbling skills and way better shooting skills than Busi. This is where i thought Busi should have been taken off, instead of Iniesta. Although resting him may have been more important of a consideration.

    What dissapointed me most about the game was how we started the 2nd half. We knew all about the conditions by then, got to re-groove but still i didnt feel any sense of cohesive set of plans out there. I’ll go watch it again.

    download links, anyone ?

    • Jim
      March 29, 2012

      I thought Alves was a little disappointing last night. He receives the ball in space and running on to it. Yet his first movement is inevitably to slow down or stop. I’d like to see him using that momentum to run at the defender occasionally. He seems to have the quick feet for that.

      On another note, the Pique fairness committee may be in danger of going into abeyance after a decent run 🙂 Nice to see the big man getting recognition for what I thought was a really impressive display at the heart of the defence.

      • March 29, 2012

        Yes, and yes. But I thought that there was too much stopping with the ball in general, as well as too much dribbling.

      • March 29, 2012

        Well thats what happens when the pitch has been gutted and you cant pass the ball or control it the way you normally would. Quick, one touch passing does not work on a surface like that so the players have to take more touches and try to open up play by dribbling instead of passing.

  35. G6O
    March 29, 2012

    Great day for Bilbao again in the Europa League.

    Which reminds me – why are we playing them on Saturday? It’s a bit unfair to play an away game in Europe on Thursday and then play an away game at the Camp Nou against us… Yes, we have a game on Tuesday too, but sure UEFA could have thought about this…

    • Helge
      March 29, 2012

      Well, one team has to be screwed, however the league match is scheduled.

      Either it’s just one day rest for Bilbao after an Europa League match, or it is just one day for us before the CL match.
      In the end, CL is bigger. Plus, it is in general an even bigger disadvantage to play a k.o. match with just one day of rest than to play a ‘normal’ league match.

      I don’t know how UEFA could have thought about this. The draw was made randomly, and if you also considered the national league schedules for the draw, it would become more compex and probably more controversial as some teams would always complain.
      The rules for the UEFA CL draw are already complicated enough! 🙂

      • G6O
        March 29, 2012

        They could have played the Europa League game on Wednesday. Or switched the order of the CL games, i.e. those who play Wednesday and Tuesday get to play Tuesday and Wednesday instead.

        Anyway, bad for Bilbao, good for us. Just a thought I had

  36. mega_tajh
    March 29, 2012

    Bilbao have won me over. Their passing, the speed, the pressing till 90+ mins.

    • messifan
      March 29, 2012

      Wow! so glad they won. I wish they could win consistently in the league (except this weekend 🙂 ). I would love to see them in the CL next year. Valencia on the other hand… Poor Unai.

    • cuqui
      March 29, 2012

      Only saw the last 30 minutes versus Schalke but was again impressed mightily. Ray Hudson talked at length about Bilbao’s fitness which clearly shone through over that period — Schalke’s high line was caught out and didn’t have the pace to respond.

      A rip roaring match that is sure to have tuckered Bilbao out some. Their Europa League games have been some of the best football I’ve seen this season.

    • Helge
      March 29, 2012

      The way Bilbao plays is inspiring!

      What a dilemma that we have to play them on Saturday. I want Barca to win the leagzue, but I also want Bilbao to get into the top 6. Both teams should get the three points 🙂

  37. March 29, 2012

    Wow, Bilbao really are one hell of a team on their day. If they were more consistent I am sure they would be a top four contender. That being said after the shift they just put in they are gona be really tired come Saturday! Finally, a team coming to play us with less rest than us. How rare is that! Hopefully Osasuna will be nice and fired up for the Madrid game. For me this is the weekend that could really turn the tide. If Madrid drop points there then it is really on because I am sure Bilbao will give them a really stern test too.

    • Helge
      March 29, 2012

      You know what?

      WARNING! This might be the most craziest thing you’ve ever read!!!

      I got a feeling that even Atleti has a realistic chance to draw against EE this time. No Joke!

      • March 29, 2012

        Dear Lord, Helge! You’ve gone and lost your mind!

  38. htMillBay
    March 29, 2012

    Not a desired result but Milan’s defense was impressive. I think their mid-field and back line are as good as any team in football today when they play on the defensive. Certainly better than Madrid’s, though RM’s attack is much more potent than Milan’s.

    Pep played a relatively defensive game plan and aside from the logical reasons I keep suspecting that somehow he does not want Ibra to star versus FCB. You could also see how he was compensating for Abidal’s loss, perhaps too much.

    As has been mentioned many times, FCB’s attack went through the middle too much and not enough on the left wing. This is also a less risky approach and again the focus was to control Milan’s potential for counterattacks. The absence of Villa was big. Tello is a delight to watch and will get his chances next year but for now is at least a year away from big games. Affelay would have been useful too. This was a match in which FCB did not have the personnel and game plan to score bunches given the pitch and the setting so Pep and the players were very conservative and really set it up for a must win in Camp Nou which they are confident of doing.

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