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 28, 2012

    – Early dinner? Check.

    – Bathroom before kickoff as so to not miss an early Pato goal (even though he’s not playing)? Soon.

    – Liveblog? Check.

    – Match on TV? Check.

    Let’s gooo

  2. Jafri
    March 28, 2012

    Big Match tonight. Cannot wait. Let’s do this, boys.

  3. Ryan
    March 28, 2012

    Seeing the highlights of the earlier group games, boy, was that Villa free kick a beauty.

    Hoping for a great game, especially with Alves in the lineup this time!

    • Barcaleya
      March 28, 2012

      Me! Can’t see the arrow to get in.

  4. Laurentiu88
    March 28, 2012

    Viscaaaaaa BArcaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!

  5. Manish
    March 28, 2012

    Mod.. please start..waiting waiting waiting..:D

  6. G6O
    March 28, 2012

    OK, this is the Champions League, the most expensive football tournament in the world. So why are the letting them do this – long grass, loose turf, players slipping and falling left and right, ball misbehaving….

    If one team is going to play around and in the box of the other, these things matter a lot

  7. Laurentiu88
    March 28, 2012

    UEFA has to start making rules for the quality of the pitch… wtf is that?!!?! should we expect potatoes field every time now? but what a poor game!!! i can’t imagine neutral people enjoying this ice skating…

    • G6O
      March 28, 2012

      Absolutely, and you can see players are really frustrated this time – Dani kicked the grass in anger when the ball tricked him after bouncing in an odd way and he lost it. The he slipped again. Messi slipped when taking the free kick. And there was probably half a dozen situations in which we had the ball in tight space around the box and lost it because it simply wasn’t possible to control it in these conditions.

      So again, why?

      • Laurentiu88
        March 28, 2012

        their field was not like that at the weekend…

        I guess to suit their game plan…the high balls delivered to Ibra…

  8. Huckleberry
    March 28, 2012

    What a shame for a club like Milan to deliberatly alter the pitch in a mud.

  9. TITO
    March 28, 2012

    Wasn’t expecting anything less that that awful pitch, it has always been like that, always.
    We are doing fine, just need to convert one of the chances that we create and gradually we got stable in the back. We are missing Adriano or Abidal for that matter on the left flank, but what a hell, they are missing some key players as well.
    I’m sure we will score in the second half.

  10. Roberto Senyera
    March 28, 2012

    Everybody is slipping out there today. Both sides. What the hell did Milan coat the pitch with? Chicken grease? Pig lard??

    The game screams for balls sent from deep out to Tello and for him to speed past everyone (along with Alexis on the other side). Beep! Beep!

    Give me Tello!!

    Keita out, Tello in, Iniesta to midfield. Bob’s your uncle. This ain’t rocket surgery.

    Let’s do this!

    Visca Barça!

  11. Roberto Senyera
    March 28, 2012

    Time to get Keita off the pitch already. He’s got a yellow now.

    C’mon Pep. Make the switch. What is this Keita obsession anyway?

  12. Roberto Senyera
    March 28, 2012

    Iniesta out and not Keita? Jesus Christ Pep?!?!

  13. Roberto Senyera
    March 28, 2012

    Mesbah!! I love that sub. Give us an own goal now …

  14. Roberto Senyera
    March 28, 2012

    Well … at least Puyol didn’t get booked …

    • Jafri
      March 28, 2012

      Not sure why you weren’t saying all this in the LB…

      • Roberto Senyera
        March 28, 2012

        I thought that was the LB , God damn it.

        I really need to be more Internet savy, Jesus K. Christ!!

        • SteveHK
          March 29, 2012

          I think you mean Jesus H. Christ. That’s the guy usually used as an expletive. I have no idea who this Jesus K. guy is.
          Of course I may be showing my own ignorance; maybe the particular Jesus used as an expletive in country specific, and you are from a different country where Jesus K. is the proper Jesus name to use in profanity.

  15. Helge
    March 28, 2012

    One of the worst matches in football I have seen for a long time.

    Unfortunately, a scoreless draw is rather a bad result away from home. The return leg will be very tough and dangerous.

    But it seems like Pep was satisfied with the 0-0, otherwise I don’t understand his substitutions.

  16. lea_terzi
    March 28, 2012

    We were so obviously in “survive this without injuries and go for win at home” mode..
    It seems no one wants to be a gentleman where this team is concerned. It’s too good to fight fairly.

  17. Momo
    March 28, 2012

    Abysmal match…
    Complete waste of 90 minutes…

  18. March 28, 2012

    Can’t believe the collective threat of Xavi, Messi and Iniesta (him especially) was neutralized so easily. Pitch played its hand but we kinda had an off day at the office. I mean look at how many balls we lost or gave away there. Must be better at the Camp Nou..

    • Laurentiu88
      March 28, 2012

      how many times did all messi iniesta xavi miss-control so many balls or short passes? it was impossible to play any sort of combination there…

      add to this a very good packed milan

      maybe we needed a player of strength and speed a la Etoo..

      anyway, everything to play for!! and this time on a laser cut grass 🙂

  19. Laurentiu88
    March 28, 2012

    the image with referee watching Puyol being pulled at that corner spoke a thousand words…

  20. mega_tajh
    March 28, 2012

    IMO our team played for the draw. Is Cesc injuried btw?

  21. K_legit in Oz
    March 28, 2012

    I am just happy nobody from our team got injured on that minefield

  22. TITO
    March 28, 2012

    I’m not sure was it the pitch or something else but this was one of the worst games that Iniesta have played. Along him Keita, Xavi and Puyol, Messi and Alexis were so so.
    Pique was great along Dani.
    But Masch and Busi were absolute beasts. Glad that we got out of this without injuries, i was afraid of something like that due to the circumstances.

  23. Roberto Senyera
    March 28, 2012

    Very disappointed in Pep today I have to say. Great coach, no doubt. But he totally lost the plot today and didn’t live to FCB principles. Playing two holding mids for the entire game (yes, Keita is a holding, defensive, mid) against an average Milan team? Wtf Pep?!?! Are you spending nights out with Shakira? Too much respect shown to Milan. This isn’t the Milan with Gullit, van Basten, et al.

    Totally pissed at Pep today. Forget the state of the pitch which was appalling, Pep acted today like a Mourinho and not a true Barça coach. Keita plays ninety and the likes of superior footballers like Cesc and Thiago don’t get a minute? Jesus Christ Pep?!?!

    I am pissed right off. Scoring zero goals on the road in a two legged tie is not the way to go. And a lot of that comes down to Pep’s mentality and not the state of the pitch.

    One of the few times I’m really pissed at Pep.

    • jordi™
      March 28, 2012

      Its better than being naive and getting picked off on the counter like against inter and arsenal.If it had happened again today people would be in melt down mode.

      • Roberto Senyera
        March 28, 2012

        Those are I-talian principles and not Barça’s. If we get bounced look to this game as the reason and Pep’s selections as the reason.

        Barça fears no one and no where. And this is a poor Milan side especially without Silva and van Bommel. Those are the Barça principles. If we go down, we go down on our own shield. Truly and totally disappointed in Pep today. Full stop.

        • jordi™
          March 28, 2012

          The problem is reducing the game to only the final result.Against Madrid, we didnt take many chances because we knew that they were trying to counter us.Individual brilliance saved that game from being a poor 0-0 to instead a good 0-2.If Afellay and Messi didnt do what they did would that mean the set up was bad? No we cant just look at the result.For me its clear that since we got destroyed at the san siro , the emphasis has changed to grab a gol if you can but more important dont lose by two .

          • Roberto Senyera
            March 28, 2012

            Afellay a f*cling lie?!? Wtf are you talking about Nordic?

            Afellay is just starting to train with the group.

            Pep totally pooched the hooch!! Totally.

          • jordi™
            March 29, 2012

            :roll: Im talking about last your grumpy.

          • jordi™
            March 29, 2012

            last year* hence i said, in the cl, at the bernabeu.

    • HisR0yalFlyness
      March 28, 2012

      Agreed. Keita should have been off and Iniesta shifted to the middle. And by the half it was clear that play through the center was ineffective with AC defending with 2 banks of 4. More width was required way earlier, but the late subs are a regular thing with Pep. The impact was clear as soon as Tello and Pedro came on.

      All in all a wasted opportunity to gain an advantage going into the return leg. We are going to see more of the same ultra defensive play with them looking to capitalize on a set piece to go through.

      Hopefully we dont make the same mistakes in the return leg.

    • Momo
      March 28, 2012

      Overreaction much?
      It’s still AC freakin Milan, and a scoreless draw on their horrible pitch is the furthest thing from disastrous (which your post is making it out to be).

      I suggest you tone down your expectations, for your own health at least.
      I wonder how you felt during the 3-1 defeat to inter two years ago…

    • March 28, 2012

      Calm down man. 0-0 is a good result and Keita was crucial on the left in helping out Puyol. Cesc doesn’t have the discipline for that role. And Thiago’s not as physical.

      • nzm
        March 28, 2012

        Agreed. That’s why Keita was on the pitch, and not Thiago or Cesc.

    • mom4
      March 28, 2012

      Wait, Keita is a defensive mid? Then all those people complaining about Pep using him as one at the beginning of the season because he wasn’t one were wrong?

    • March 28, 2012

      Relax. 0-0 away from home in the CL is not a bad result. We are playing AC Milan, not some 3rd rate team. They completely gutted their pitch and they defended extremely well. You have to give them credit.

      The ref also played his part. We should have had two penalties, one on Sanchez and the other on Puyol, neither given, so Milan got lucky as well. Not sure what it is but referees just do not want to give us any penalties this season.

      We didnt get the away goal, but we didnt concede either. They were set up to hurt us on the counter and I actually think Pep was very smart to be a little cautious and not too gung-ho. It will be a very different story when they come to the Nou Camp on our big, slick pitch. Lets see them keep a clean sheet there.

      • Roberto Senyera
        March 28, 2012

        All you ‘smart’ FC! BFB can say what you wish. Setting up defensively and not getting an away goal is not cool. And it’s certainly not Barça principles either. I’m probably older than most of you (probably been watching since most of you have been born). That is not Barça. Keita is not Cesc nor Thiago. I am a little ashamed we did not live to our principles today. I really am. An that’s down to one man — Pep.

        There is another leg though.

        Let a pissed off man be at peace, at least. Jesus Christ, am I the only blind man that sees this??

        • genesfut
          March 29, 2012

          as pointed out, the person who so interrupted their play high up the pitch was keita, get all pissed but at the right reason and person; sanchez. do yourself a favour and watch the game again

        • Peterj
          March 29, 2012

          What the heck is ur problem…are u the president or coach of the club?do u even know how the players felt last nite,yet u re typing like a spoilt child on ur computer!

    • Peterj
      March 29, 2012

      Wth are u…if u were that good,why aren’t u the coach of fcbarcelona?old man

  24. Humphrey Bogart
    March 28, 2012

    That was the ironic turnover of our season. The much dismissed defence was the best part of our game, midfield was terrible, forward line even worse. We could not pass to the next player, ball control not existing, just a terrible, terible performance from anybody not playing in the back 4

  25. March 28, 2012

    We’re in a much better position than they are, people take this away goals thing too far sometimes. A 0-0 draw away from home with the second leg at Camp Nou where the grass will be short and the passes slick…it’s a good position to be in.

    Put it this way, if we don’t go through, it’s because of what happened in the 2nd leg, not what happened today.

    The pitch was abysmal though. Someone (especially Iniesta or Alexis) could’ve gotten seriously injured.

  26. mom4
    March 28, 2012

    It’s 0-0. All we have to do is win a game at the camp Nou, on real grass. Geez, you’d think someone just killed Messi’s puppy for all the gloom here.

    • Humphrey Bogart
      March 28, 2012

      to be honest, Messi had this look on his face the whole game, that might actually be the case

  27. Dave
    March 28, 2012

    Anyone summarise the main points on Barca from Revista? Transfers etc

  28. mega_tajh
    March 28, 2012

    This was the kinda game I actually wanted to see Cuenca in. No goals conceded is what I believe Pep was aiming for. This is also the reason Keita was much more reserved today and hardly made runs forward or into the box. In all sad for the 0-0 but we can more than do it at home:

  29. March 28, 2012

    I actually thought Pep was very smart tonight being a bit more cautious. Milan are a very dangerous team on the counter attack, Arsenal will attest to that.

    When you take into account the state of the pitch and the fact that Milan have some of the most experienced defensive players in the game it was set up for them to counter attack. With a pitch like the one today you are bound to lose the ball, even with the likes of Messi and Iniesta. One touch, quick passing football is not possible so the key is to keep possession for as long as possible, try to create chances but not to be too risky. Defend well when called upon and not commit too many players forward. We could have played right into their hands tonight (like Arsenal did) but we didn’t. Our defense was very solid and they very rarely created any danger. On top of all of that they also got really lucky cos a ref doing his job properly would have given two pens tonight, but I dont think we should expect the referees to do their jobs properly anymore.

    • jordi™
      March 28, 2012

      It was a lot like the game at the Bernabeu last year.Only difference was Pepe got sent off and Afellay when he came on passed the ball to messi for the opening goal.In the reverse situation tello shot, but that is what inexperience does.

      • nzm
        March 28, 2012

        And wasn’t Messi furious at Tello? 😀

        • Roberto Senyera
          March 28, 2012

          And nzm, Messi had no right to feel that way. It was Tello’s shot all along.

          • nzm
            March 29, 2012

            Actually, I disagree with that. Messi had a better chance of scoring than Tello did with a man inside him. He had to shoot with his left foot and really didn’t have the angle to the goal. Tello needs to do what Messi coached Cuenca about last week – look up and around to see the other opportunities.

  30. March 28, 2012

    Calm down people. Think of it as an equivalent of the armageddon rule in chess. We’ve got the home advantage, and need to win. They only need a scoring draw. Pretty even odds.

    But we go into every game with this mentality. I’m sure we’ll be fine. Look on the bright side – No injuries (yet)..

    • Ryan
      March 28, 2012

      We’d move to the semis with a 1-0 scoreline, so sure!

    • Gogah
      March 28, 2012

      Duh. I am aware of the score.
      Just seeing Milan defend like that, so tight and so narrow and with the uncalled penalties, just feel like a Deja Vu sort of a situation.
      Or maybe I’m just Paranoid.
      Obviously we have many things to look forward to in the 2nd leg, Just a Villa free kick is not one of them. I maybe spoiled, but i don’t feel so good.

  31. Kimcelona
    March 28, 2012

    I’m pretty disappointed. I really love the people who are positive but for me a 0-0 draw away is far too dangerous. My mind goes back to the infamous Chels-Barca game in 08/09.
    We were unlucky here it seems..who’s to say we wont be unlucky not to score next week either or we have an off day infront of goal or we dont score enough…and they manage a score draw. There is always the danger of away goals. Milan played a smart game in my opinion and they are NOT average but with our fire power and midfield I expected at least 1 away goal.
    The game overall seemed a let down based on what I’m seeing.
    Now I’m gonna be in a pissy mood for the next 3 days..

    Anywho, on to Bilbao!

    • Humphrey Bogart
      March 28, 2012

      agree the tie is now firmly in Milans hands, I can not see how we will be able to score, we are so off without Messi, and he has gone off the boil

      • mom4
        March 28, 2012

        No, the tie is in our hands. We win, by any score and we advance.. Barca winning at Camp Nou…it’s not unheard of ya know.

      • Peterj
        March 29, 2012

        Where the heck were u when he was scoring hat-tricks 4 fun?…now he’s gone off d boil after one bad match…do u even watch barça games that well?

      • Helge
        March 29, 2012

        That has to be ironic, your sentence about Messi, right?

    • March 28, 2012

      Like you said they got lucky today, if they get lucky when they come to the Nou Camp then they get lucky. That is the nature of the game. We got lucky in 08/09 vs Chelsea. Sometimes it goes for you, sometimes it doesnt. That being said we will create a lot more at the Nou Camp so they will have to get a lot luckier than they did tonight. Our home form this season has been spectacular and Messi is pretty much unstoppable on his own pitch. They might have been able to JUST about keep a clean sheet on their own dry, gutted, bobbly pitch but I doubt they can do it on ours.

      Anyways, like Pep said; that a team like Milan, with its history and quality, would celebrate a 0-0 draw at home speaks volumes.

      Btw if we get past Milan dont expect Chelsea to be any easier. I actually expect them to be a lot tougher. They will also make sure their pitch is awful and they will defend with hunger and aggression.

      • messifan
        March 28, 2012

        I haven’t seen the game yet. But there are a lot of complaints about that pitch. According to Gab Marcotti, who was on Press Pass a few weeks ago, the San Siro is a fairly enclosed stadium with little air and sunlight. It’s also difficult to maintain a perfect pitch with two teams sharing a stadium. The pitch perhaps had an effect on our game but I don’t think Milan intentionally ruined the pitch for this match.

        A 0-0 result is not ideal but we’ve been in this kind of situation before, so no need to panic yet. I might have more to say after I watch the replay. Anyway, let’s focus on Athletic.

        • josesoegaard
          March 28, 2012

          watch the match. it was almost as messy as the pitch at san mames this fall in the pouring, pouring rain.

        • Roberto Senyera
          March 28, 2012

          Sorry. If you believe Milan didn’t intentionally doctor the pitch then you must believe in aliens. Full stop.

        • mega_tajh
          March 28, 2012

          I watched the AcMilan vs Roma game Saturday gone and the pitch was in tip top condition, watered and green as ever. Not like what we sawed today. Today was dry and lumpy at parts, with what seemed like silt at other parts.

      • Kimcelona
        March 28, 2012

        I didnt say they got lucky I said we were unlucky. I actually think they played a smart, disciplined game. I have always been weary of Milan while others had written them off as average so I agree with Pep but I am still uneasy over a 0-0 away from home because of the away goals rule. I reallllllly wanted us to get a goal.

        And yeah, I agree about the Chelsea thing. I hate that team. I think they possibly are our bogey team other than Rubin Kazan (lol!). We’ve played them quite alot over the years..THAT worries me. But lets cross that hurdle..if we get there.

    • Ryan
      March 28, 2012

      Our home record is pretty nuts, we’ve only got 2 draws and the rest wins out of all competitions this year at home. This is still ours to lose.

  32. K_legit in Oz
    March 28, 2012

    Pep’s laying down some truth in the presser

  33. K_legit in Oz
    March 28, 2012

    Also Pep’s pretty poor record away in the CL knockouts continues..what is it only 1 win and the rest all draws/defeats?

    • Kimcelona
      March 28, 2012

      Um no. Last season we had two wins in the knock-out stages against Shahktar and EE.

      • mom4
        March 28, 2012

        Yes, but we had cules ready to jump off bridges after we lost 2-1 at the Emirates. Darn, but I hate typing on a Droid.

    • Ryan
      March 28, 2012

      Didn’t we win all our away CL matches this season? If memory recalls, Villa was getting lots of away goals.

      • Yes, but overall Pep Guardiola’s away game record at UCL knockout stage is not that good. Only two victories, against Shakhtar (it’s game over for them at that time) and Madrid (Messi scored after Pep got sent off).

        So 0-0 at San Siro? Not great, but definitely not the worst result for Barcelona.

        • Ryan
          March 29, 2012

          Yes, overall his away knockout CL performance isn’t that impressive, but we’ve seen a great many home games(and CL finals) where the team is just a powerhouse. I don’t understand the gloom and doom, especially when you compare it to the Inter and Arsenal first leg losses.

  34. lyd
    March 28, 2012

    Lots of free kick attempts, shots outside the box, some good chances. Not our best performance by a long margin but elements of luck could have resulted in a goal but did not happen. No need to panic yet. In the 2nd leg, very few is gonna bet against Barca to grab a win, so chill!

    I actually enjoyed some phases in the match. Enjoyed Messi as usual. Today he played deeper and more like a classic 10 (like the previous clasico). Its really a pleasure seeing him taking on somebody like Nesta. Felt Pedro did well after he came on. Credits to Pique (who kept Ibra on hold) and the defense for having kept their concentration. Busi was amazing too.

    Credit to Milan as well for doing their thing. They kept it narrow and crowded. Parked the buses but kept the engines on. They were not ugly one must admit, like those other white buses. Seedorf i thought played exceptionally well (given his age) and kept his cool.

    No injuries today. Yay! Lets entertain Bilbao now and get into a sizzling run of form.

  35. lyd
    March 28, 2012

    I would not criticize the ref or the pitch.
    The Alexis penalty was ruled out because he took a unnecessary, heavy touch. There was no way to get to the ball, even without the keeper as obstacle. Btw Pedro wasn’t caution for handball so must appreciate the ref here. The pitch was awful. Yes. But predictably awful. We cant complain about pitches anymore. When smaller teams (with due respect!) do it, its because of the economic crisis. When the rest do it, its for tactical advantage. To minimize Barca’s strength seems to be the main priority. That should speak volumes of how awesome and intimidating Pep’s team is!

    • josesoegaard
      March 28, 2012

      As a tactical move, it is the prerogative of the home team to manage the pitch as they see fit. However, while I think it’s perfectly acceptable to grow the grass long so that balls played on the ground travel slowly, the pitch today was slippery and potentially dangerous. If Iniesta, Messi, or anyone else had suffered a season-ending injury, the state of the pitch would have been to blame. It was a real possibility, and that is unacceptable.

      • josesoegaard
        March 28, 2012

        That is to say, we shouldn’t “blame” the pitch for the draw, but we should be willing to criticize the club for the poor condition of its pitch.

    • K_legit in Oz
      March 28, 2012

      Hmm ok but what about the shirt tug on Puyol?

      • lyd
        March 28, 2012

        Puyi still had a decent glancing header. Without the tug, do u honestly think it was a sure shot goal?
        I thought the situation with Messi, when he juggled with his head and got through two defenders and then brought down, was more likely a candidate for a penalty kick.

    • G6O
      March 28, 2012

      The Alexis penalty looked like a dive to me – his legs were in an unnaturally straight position, exactly like what one would so when he deliberately trips himself in the keeper. But the Puyol one was 100% and happened right in front of the referee’s eyes – you could see that’s where he was looking all the time, didn’t give it.

      Anyway, we know this team plays much much better at home so I am confident we will make it to the semis with a convincing display on Tuesday. Meanwhile we have to beat B1lbao

      • lyd
        March 28, 2012

        Not a dive really. Previously off-balanced, he just takes a heavier touch (In an ideal world, keeper gets a yellow and Barca earns a corner). Alexis should work on close control.

        And for Puyol one, the ref looked through the eyes of Graham Hunter, it seems. But Puyol was amazing with his effort, like a bull fighter. Would love to see that in slow-mo!

  36. March 28, 2012

    Milan is thrilled with their 0-0, as any draw in our house assures them of going through.

    We were tactically inept at times, Tello created more chances in his brief stint than Sanchez did for his time on the pitch, and Mascherano was comprehensively boss. Keep Iniesta away from the wing like, oh, forever, and get Messi some No-Doz.

    Despite all of that, this match still should have been salted away. We were wasteful of some excellent chances, and that isn’t any ref’s fault. Too much dithering on the ball, too much playing right into the strength of the defense that Milan had set up — in the middle. Every time wing play was utilized, good things happened. And yet, the center-right mania persisted. I know that’s where Messi and Alves are, but at some point this club has to realize, in times of pressure, that there is a left side of the pitch.

    Adriano would have made this a very different match. Or an earlier insertion of Tello.

    Either way, I feel pretty good about our chances with an awake, alert Messi, Adriano being back and not playing on a cow pasture.

    • lyd
      March 28, 2012

      “but at some point this club has to realize, in times of pressure, that there is a left side of the pitch.”

      – my thoughts too. Make the field big, drag everybody on the left and release the ball like a cannon, on the right!
      It was a suitable lineup to play a left centered game. Especially in the early 2nd half.

      • mega_tajh
        March 28, 2012

        And I was wondering why didn’t Alexis and Iniesta switch/swap?

        With Alexis on the left he can stretch the field and with Iniesta on the right he can cut in more centrally in midfield since Alves is basically pushing up as a right winger.

        Ps. I miss Villa, he always shows up in the big games, not to mention his sheer presence on the left.

        For example time and time again Messi had the ball near the box surrounded with 4-5 Milan players looking for a left runner but to no avail. All he saw was Keita who was playing a more reserved role than his usual bomb the box.

        Usually we had Abidal/Adriano making that run, or even an open winger but not this game, this is where we should criticize Pep and his late subs.

        • Ryan
          March 29, 2012

          Or perhaps criticize the selling of Maxwell, if the club really knew about Abidal’s condition. We have no healthy first-team left backs for the second year in a row!

  37. The__K__Man
    March 28, 2012

    I would like to make 2 things clear:

    1. For f*ck’s sake calm down people. Since when is drawing against an Italian champion on their home turf a bad result? Thank god I wasn’t around the blog when we left the same pitch 2 years ago with a 3-1 defeat. I am sure I would have killed myself reading the comments back then.

    2. Did anyone of our coaches or players even care to watch a Milan game before? Do they even know how bad Daniele Bonera is? The guy is a disaster waiting to happen. Instead of Sanchez or anyone using this side and taking advantage of him we kept foolishly playing on Alves’ well protected side. When Tello came in, Allegri felt the problem and switched Bonera with Antonini immediately. Damn it I was so excited once I knew he was playing!

    • Roberto Senyera
      March 28, 2012

      A very weak I-talian Champion btw and without Thiago Silva and van Bommel. I say, unacceptable.

      We should have ripped them a new one.

      That, my BFBers, is the true Barça way. Everyone else is a Mourinho deciple. And you should worship elsewhere as far as I’m concerned. Attack, attack, attack!!! Those are our principles!!!

      Everyone else, take a rest. And, you disappoint me btw (including Pep).

      • SteveHK
        March 29, 2012

        Roberto you are like a Barcelona Ultra Sur! Or the Barcelona Spanish Inquisition!
        I think you just called Pep a Mourinho disciple?!
        I can’t really imagine anyone with a better understanding of the Barca way and it’s principles than Pep, but I’m sure that’s one reason I wouldn’t be allowed to worship at your church.

      • Peterj
        March 29, 2012

        With all due respect,u re a joke…are u professional coach or player? and did u invented the barca style u re shouting on and on about?..ps:if u were a better coach,u would be the one coaching fcbarcelona

      • blitzen
        March 29, 2012

        Roberto, you seriously need to take a step back. Everyone else, too. Insulting fellow members of this community is not acceptable. Stop it now.

  38. March 28, 2012

    Some absolutely unbelievable comments on here, like it’s Milan’s tie to lose (it isn’t), that Messi has gone off the boil (he hasn’t), that the Alexis play wasn’t a penalty (it was) etc etc. Barca fans really living up to the pessimistic woe-is-us stereotype tonight.

  39. lyd
    March 28, 2012

    Why did Pep start Keita and Busi together? Its because he had well defined, quality reasons to do so.

    I for one, before the match, advocated resting Xaviesta to play Thiago+Cesc instead. (Call me stupid!) Thiago, i felt, automatically had a place due to his suspension and Cesc, in spite of his poor ball holding skills and form, had a role to play tonight with his special spatial awareness. Cesc would have taken the burden off Alexis in stretching the CB’s and thus Messi could have had more space to work with. But the trade off in playing Cesc was the potential loss of composure in midfield with dictating tempo and what not. On the hindsight (Milans approach+Pitch), it was perhaps best to play Thiago or Cesc, if not both.

    Having seen the starting lineup, it didn feel defensive at all. Thought the idea was to work on making frequent dynamical triangles with Busi, Keita and Xaviesta resulting in more creative and composed ball circulation for long duration in midfield and with Alexis stretching the CB’s, the stage was set to release Messi on his outrageous runs or to relieve pressure by passing to Alvez. But the stage was slippery and that caused us to play below par game.

    The attack buildup was more right-centered for my liking and the state of the pitch forced us to play a cautious game to avoid injuries. Alexis was not at his best and Iniesta and Keita had some confusions with their positioning at times. Having said all that, we were still more than capable to pull a winner in any stage of the match.

    These are good times in a way. When you have an off day but end up to dominate possession, make the other team sit deep the entire match.

    • Ryan
      March 28, 2012

      Thiago had a yellow card revoked, so he’s not suspended. 🙂

      • lyd
        March 28, 2012

        Great! He might have a good role to play against Bilbao.

  40. Kimcelona
    March 28, 2012

    I dont understand. We can’t point out ref mistakes in a match anymore? This is not to say the ref was against us or that somehow he was horrible..its just that we could have had two penalties. Simples.

    This ref thing is being blown waaaaaaaaaaaaaay out of proportion and I think its mainly because people are looking at it from two EXTREMES. Pointing out obvious calls doesnt mean I’m saying there’s some kinda conspiracy. A ref’s job isnt easy but like any one on the job they are gonna be criticised for f*cking up. Yeesh, man. And I’m also tired of hearing that I dont have a right to talk about a missed call because we had calls go in our favor. Then by that logic NO team should talk about missed calls, ever.

    I would think I can point calls out and still think we didnt get the result because of us and not be labelled as a complainer or a conspiracist !

    Sorry thats my rant for the day.

    With that said, I watched the game and well…will someone please take Don Andres to shooting practice and tell Alexis to stop stuttering infront of goal, youre doing too much dude..just shoot!
    And the left wing might as well have “cobwebs” etched in on the team sheet starting IX..play over there is non-existent. Pitch was horrible but it is what it is.

    On the positive side, we actually didnt play as bad as I thought (upon actually watching the whole match for myself). Defense was solid! gasp! They only had two clear cut chances, IMO and VV was there to stop them. Masche was immense and is fast becoming my lover.

    • lyd
      March 28, 2012

      “We can’t point out ref mistakes in a match anymore? This is not to say the ref was against us or that somehow he was horrible..its just that we could have had two penalties. Simples.”

      – Yes. On some other day with some other ref, or in some other parallel universe, we’d get two penalties and Messi would miss one. And Robinho scores on the volley, Ibra scores on that pass from Seedorf. Whats the point really in complaining? Isn it better to point out the areas in which we could have played better?

      • Kimcelona
        March 28, 2012

        “Isn it better to point out the areas in which we could have played better?”
        ————————
        I did. I guess you didnt read my whole post.

        I am not even complaining, I’m pointing out some calls we should have gotten. Its like you missed the whole point of my post…

        • lyd
          March 28, 2012

          My last question actually referred to your post-rant statements. I appreciated the latter half of your post.
          And the questions were rhetoric tbh.

          Its more like you missed the whole point of your own post! jk hehe
          No.. its more like your post had too many points..
          kidding again 😛

  41. Xavi6
    March 28, 2012

    That is what I think
    Iniesta really needs to improve his finishing. Usually , he gets decent shots to score and he usually fails too.
    It’s an awful idea to play Iniesta as a left winger ,we miss him badly in midfield where he can combine with Xavi and Messi.
    We really need an experienced LW who can score , as Euler noticed ; teams playing against Barca usually concede space on left. add to that Messi aside , we don’t have a relibale goalscorer.
    The team was not sharp today , we should have buried this mediocre AC Milan side , sadly we did not . Yet , a draw at San Siro is never a bad result , though we could have done better.
    Mascherano was a beast today , hats off.
    What do you think about Pique’s performance today ?

    • bhed
      March 28, 2012

      Pique was near perfect, and I’ve been critical lately. Biggest letdown for me was Iniesta – don’t know if it was playing wing or just a bad form day. Would have liked to have seen Tello sooner, or even even Thiago.

      If our defense can maintain this level, I feel very hopeful going forward.

  42. March 28, 2012

    Stats are coming out. About 20% of our play was to the left. Bulk of it was in the canter. We basically helped Milan defend with the way we attacked.

  43. BarcaOwl
    March 28, 2012

    They didn’t score, so that’s good. The boys will just have to kick things up several notches at Camp Nou if they want to get to the next round.

    • mega_tajh
      March 28, 2012

      They didn’t score but so didn’t we. Yes we drew like in past away legs, but the problem now is that everything is open, without that away goal we are used to.

      A Clean sheet at home for us is important as scoring, so we need to be dominating but careful also.

      Only good thing now is that Milan will properly come out and attack more this time around.

      • BarcaOwl
        March 29, 2012

        I don’t go around bursting your bubbles, so I’ll thank you not to burst mine.

      • Ryan
        March 29, 2012

        Milan said they were going to come out and attack last game, but that didn’t turn out to be case. I imagine they’ll go with the same game plan and hope to score on the counter. But this time we’ll have an actual playable pitch and hopefully a left back to make things easier for our style of play.

  44. sebanovic
    March 28, 2012

    Some chalkboards I made with ZonalMarking’s app:

    Xavi played a more advanced role than usual, compared here to the game against Leverkusen at the Camp Nou (first halves only)
    http://fourfourtwo.com/statszone/share.aspx?i=065yH

    Keita had a solid match
    http://fourfourtwo.com/statszone/share.aspx?i=06fLG

    You wouldn’t have guessed Iniesta was playing LW from his chalkboard:
    http://fourfourtwo.com/statszone/share.aspx?i=06fMG

    Milan formed a solid defensive wall just outside their box:
    http://fourfourtwo.com/statszone/share.aspx?i=06BfD

    Barca completed 19/20 tackles, Milan 15/20. Surprising, no?
    http://fourfourtwo.com/statszone/share.aspx?i=06G9G

    • ooga aga
      March 29, 2012

      i like the idea of your creating these graphs to tell the story of the match…but they need a legend so we can interpret them.

  45. cliveee
    March 28, 2012

    My thoughts are much like what KevWill and Footballmood mentioned on the Twittersphere: right players, wrong/inefficient usage. But to say Pep disappointed us is just too far.

    Re:Double DM
    This match shows us the tactical side of Pep rather than the usual idealistic, total-footballing, all-out-attacking Pep Guardiola. Because he has to be a very practical coach after all to win us all these titles.

    Player practiced on the potato field. Pep, with all his experiences, also knew about the condition of the pitch and the effects it would bring to the team (or both teams). Playing Keita and Busquets ensures enough workforce in the midfield because Pep knew the passing wouldn’t be pretty in this match. Recall his reactions on the sideline, he was so calm even bad passes and touches were everywhere. He just knew. That’s why Keita and Busquets were totally necessary. and Milan had nothing to lose, that’s why Seedorf played his 150% fitness and the rest of the team were also fearless in tackling. If we played Busi alone, he’d be very vulnerable. As you see Messi, Iniesta and Xavi also uncharacteristically gave away possessions, Busi would have to be at his top none-shall-pass form to keep Milan from counter attacking. But given the pitch condition, it’s better to reduce the workload.

    Milan, like all Italian teams, are famous for defending deep. If Robin-yo put that volley of his away and gave Milan the lead in the first half, we will have a very tough lock to break. Like some mentioned above, sometimes luck goes the other way. But I don’t think we are down to luck to rescue us yet.

    Keita wasn’t properly used tonight. So were Alexis and Iniesta. Also, I got a feeling that players were trying to be protective of themselves, that’s why the running were so little and the movement were so lacking. Earlier introduction of Tello and Pedro would make a difference.

    To some of you, don’t underestimate your coach, he knows better than us. He also has to work on a matchday schedule. It has become more clear to me that the Liga is still on Pep’s mind. That could explain the possible protective instructions to players tonight. As Bilbao is up next.

  46. cliveee
    March 28, 2012

    By the way, I think the 0-0 draw was the right result. We never had the upperhand in the entire 90 minutes. They also screwed up the poach in front of our goal a couple of times.

    Yet, my personal feeling tells me that it was one of the most boring games that has Barca in memory.

    • mega_tajh
      March 28, 2012

      I wouldn’t say boring, just cautious very cautious, for risk of injury on that pitch and trying not to concede.

      For example I saw alot of un-Barca like clearance up the field instead of trying to play the ball out from defense as we usually do. This has to be Pep’s orders or he would’ve fixed it by the 2nd half.

      On other Note: The urgency from our defense was a sight to see, not to mention how Mash and Pique kept Ibra in check all throughout the game really. Pique performance especially sunk in, seems he is getting back into form at the right time.

      • cliveee
        March 28, 2012

        yea, in fact, i should correct myself, i was actually referring only to the second half. The first half was a delight. Air vs ground.

  47. pr17
    March 28, 2012

    Terribly terribly disappointed. Not with the result but more with the conservatism. I actually wasnt this pissed with 2-1 loss at arsenal last season.
    Pep betrayed FCB principles in some way by playing 2 DMs (keita has 1 assist this season). We looked like spain in WC2010. Messi somehow didnt thought he should compensate for the missing playmaker in middle and came to MF quite often.
    Iniesta on left is a waste of talent.
    Terrible off the ball movement today due to lack of people up front with messi being in midfield, and iniesta fearful of run into alien penalty territory.
    We need alexis to be shunted out on right when teams park bus and not in the middle. He is a good no 9 against teams that press high or dont crowd centre.
    I am missing my MVP attack of last season. Villa is a villa – his off the ball movement is superb and he always gets into 2-3 scoring positions per match.
    I have said enough about keita. keita per se is a good squad player but keita never ever deserves to start. when he starts we play players in sub optimal positions (Busi as centre back in first few matches of season) and now iniesta on wings. Sometimes i wonder why dont we sell keita and groom Sergi roberto or maybe recall oriol romeu.
    Just hope we are able to get some fire in our belly vs athletic and milan in second leg.

    • March 28, 2012

      There were a great many players who played worse than Keita, who was a midfield workhorse and the perfect antidote for their physicality. He even began making runs into the box that were ignored.

      Meanwhile, Messi mostly sleepwalked, Sanchez had the yips in front of goal when he wasn’t completely neutralized, Iniesta looked like he was scared, Xavi was keeping the ball too much because our offense was so stationary.

      And Keita was your biggest problem? Guardiola is a sufficient judge of talent where if Romeu was better than Keita, he would be in the colors, and Keita would be at Chelsea or somewhere else. Romeu isn’t even starting for Chelsea, and they aren’t a team of anything approaching our quality. So what makes anyone think Romeu is ready to play for us? If he were, we would have brought him back.

      As for Sergi Roberto, he is at least a year away from even being considered for spot duty, much less starting in a Champions League quarterfinal match.

      If you watch what Milan were trying to do, Keita and Busquets were the perfect antidote. Without them, Xavi would have been even more overwhelmed. He will be important again when Van Bommel returns for them.

      One thing I have learned with Guardiola is that there really are no “FCB principles.” He plays the lineup that he thinks will get the job done. And had the finishing not been crap, it would have gotten the job done. And that isn’t Keita’s fault, as near as I can discern from having watched the match.

      The much larger problem is Messidependencia. It forces play into the teeth of a massed defense, because of the lack of a viable attacking threat from the left. Pedro? Guardiola didn’t choose him, and there’s usually a reason. And it isn’t as if his form has been sterling. And that’s about it. Villa knocked, Afellay still not match fit. Could Guardiola have moved Sanchez? Possibly. But for whatever reason, that didn’t happen. So it’s 0-0, and I have confidence that we will get it done at home.

      • pr17
        March 29, 2012

        well i made other points which were more imp than keita.
        In order of magnitude IMHO, some things that didnt work today were
        a)Lack of wingers / forwards in this game apart from alexis (we typically have 3)
        b) finishing and hunger (being content with 0-0 isnt FCB)
        c) Pressing
        d) Keita – not his performance but what his inclusion means (messi dropping into MF and iniesta on wing).

        On d Zonal marking makes a point on this and i quote.
        “Of course, Milan are a side based around strength and steel in the centre of the pitch and Guardiola was guilty of over-compensating for this. The selection of Keita was an indication that he wanted to compete in this respect, but Barca would have been better off playing to their strengths with Andres Iniesta in the centre of midfield, and a true wide midfielder on the left.

        Iniesta doesn’t like playing in the front three and his narrowness made Barca too predictable, always going down the centre and right, while Xavi had a good game but is more comfortable as the second function midfielder (ie between Busquets and Iniesta from bottom to top) than in a more advanced role. He received the ball too often with his back to goal, and couldn’t see the pitch ahead of him. Keita, the man this debate revolves around, did little wrong personally.”

        Hope Pep corrects all these in second leg. I admire keita as a man and the way his performance has improved as DM over the season (i dont get miffed now seeing him in DM, he is almost 80-90% of busi’s performance levels).

  48. 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.

    • 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!

  49. 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.

  50. 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.

  51. 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!

  52. 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.

    • 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.

  53. 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

  54. 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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. 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.

  58. 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).

  59. 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.

  60. 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.

  61. 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.

  62. 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..

  63. 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.

  64. 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.

  65. 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.

  66. Manish
    March 29, 2012

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

  67. 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.

  68. 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.

  69. 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.

        • 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.

  70. 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.

  71. 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! 😀

  72. 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 🙂

  73. 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.

  74. 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.

  75. 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.

  76. 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.

  77. 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.

  78. 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.

  79. 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..

  80. 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.

  81. 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

  82. 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 🙂

  83. 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!

  84. 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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