Off To That One City Again: Milan – Barcelona

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I’ve previously written about The Moral City of Italy (is that really what it’s called?) as a stand-in for rampaging Visigoths. I’ve also previously written about the city while attempting to avoid discussions of medieval warfare. Blitzen has gotten in on that act as well. I feel like I can’t possibly write more about Milan. And yet, here we are, on the even of another Champions League encounter with a team from that very city. The only thing left to talk about is the thing no one wants to talk about. No, not Bojan; politics.

Whatever your political beliefs, it would be foolish to forget that when Sport or Marca discuss Silvio Berlusconi and su” (“his”) Milan, they’re putting extraneous quotation marks around words. It’s actually his Milan. He owns them. And his political fortunes rise and fall with them. Forza Italia was a play on Forza Milan. What this match means is a potential blockbuster success for Berlusconi as he seeks a return to power. It is not necessarily an important political victory for Sandro Rosell, but a victory wouldn’t hurt his waning popularity among socis. It would obviously be foolish to pit these two sides against each other as some sort of Evil Empire East versus the Forces of Good, but there’s little doubt that political victories have been earned with less.

The individual players are probably not worried about whether particular political actors will win election or re-election due to their on-field achievements, but if football were played in a vacuum, the players would suffocate there wouldn’t be much point to watching, would there? There certainly would be a lot less to write about, anyway. As it is, there is so much going on behind-the-scenes that few Champions League matches will have the wider ramifications that this one will. Yes, it’s true that the “wider ramifications” of Barcelona being eliminated by AC Milan would by socis and not the general population, but I can easily envision a Rosell-vs-Laporta fight to the death regarding the future of this club, the Catalan state, and questions of regional autonomy revolving around the idea that “Well, I never got eliminated in the Round of 16, you big lummox.” (The counter argument is that, well, of course Barcelona lost in the Round of 16 under Laporta: 2006–07 and 2004–05; just not with this group of players, so n’yah!)

What is on paper a whitewash (Messi, Xavi, and Iniesta vs Boateng, Robinho, and Philip Mexes…and Bojan) was made significantly closer with the addition of the exquisitely talented and insatiably insane Mario Balotelli. A scintillating matchup between the powerful intensity of one of the world’s strikers and…oh, he’s cup-tied? Nevermind. We’re back to the drawing board here at the Barcelona Football Blog offices. The truth, though, is that Milan have been playing fairly well recently, having won 4 of 5 in Serie A. They haven’t lost since December 22, a run of 7 matches. Granted, their 4 most recent goals were scored by Balotelli (there was an own goal mixed in there), but that doesn’t mean they are unable to score without him. The bigger key is that 2 of those 4 were penalties. Without Balotelli, the team loses a major striking option, but they do have several others. Pato, the man who scored so quickly against Barcelona last season in the group stage, is not one of them, having moved to Corinthians. Thiago Silva, the other goal scorer in that match shipped off to PSG before the season began. Their third goalscorer against Barcelona was Zlatan Ibarhimovic. Only Boateng, who netted Milan’s 2nd with a gorgeous goal in a 2-3 Barcelona victory at the San Siro in November 2011, remains on the squad from last year’s group stage goal scorers. (Antonio Nocerino, Milan’s only goal scorer when the two teams met in the quarter finals in March and April 2012, is also still with the team)

While Milan is considerably different than it was last year, it is still in 3rd place in Italy. They obviously finished 2nd in their Champions League group, but they did fend off a fairly strong group, led by winners Malaga and followed by 1 point by Zenit St. Petersburg and 3 points by Anderlecht. Milan proved their stuff with a victory at Zenit; their first goalscorer from that match, Urby Emanuelson, is no longer with the club, having moved to Fulham on loan, but the name to remember for this whole thing, Stephan El Shawaary also made the scoresheet that night.

It’s Shawaary that provides both the talent and the hope for Milan: he is their up-and-coming striker who often plays on the wing. He’s come into his own this year, having scored some 15 goals in 22 matches, good for 2nd best in the league. He has a tremendous right foot and excellent tight control. And he’s fast. He left a couple of Barcelona defenders in his wake last year and could very easily do it again if given the opportunity. With Boateng in the middle, Milan has a rather impressive dual attack they’re able to mount. It will be up to Barcelona to cut off the supply lines. The usual prescription of suffocation by lack of possession might just do the trick, but their counters could very well be lethal.

Who else does Milan have? Hmm. Can’t think of anyone.

When I get off this bench, you’ll be sorry…

Official Prediction: 1-1. Everything to play for at the Camp Nou, but with a slight advantage to Barcelona given the away goal. I think it will be a tight, cagey affair as Milan pack it in and hope to catch FCB on the break. And they’ll do it once. The real winner, both at club level and at political level, will be determined in the second leg.

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

240 Comments

  1. jordi™
    February 20, 2013

    Full lineup in the next two clasico’s or rest players for biggest game of the season?

    • February 20, 2013

      I was saying it even before this match: rotation for the Copa semi-final, and MORE rotation for the home Classic. The Liga would require something extraordinary to lose, and dropping 3 points to them should they have a great match, won’t do it. Intelligence before pride.

      • mom4
        February 20, 2013

        I would LOVE to fly our babies into Madrid for the league game. *snicker*

      • February 20, 2013

        Thanks for reminding me that we are away for the second Classic, mom4. Been unusual, that ….

        But yes, bring on the Babies for the away Classic!

  2. nia
    February 20, 2013

    #weonlyneedthree. That’s the new hash tag I started. Vamos Barca. I wont even bother reading non Barca sites for a while:( Trolls, trolls, trolls.

  3. February 20, 2013

    Kudos to Milan for their game plan and sticking to it. We made their job a lot easier though by being so subdued and negative in our approach until it was too late. Xavi can have a bad day and Messi can have a bad day but if they both have a bad day on the same day…

    I still believe we can go through, perhaps foolishly. But I do hope we’re very intense from the first minute in 3 weeks and don’t leave it until the 80th minute to wake up.

  4. Huckleberry
    February 20, 2013

    was there a coaching staff to analyse Milan in advance?

    Barça had no ideas. An extremly bad game.

    • mohit
      February 20, 2013

      We were just winging it, going for the draw, and got exposed.

  5. Barka
    February 20, 2013

    So, Villa-Messi-Alexis for the second leg? I can’t believe I would say this because I was asking for him to be benched a few months ago but Alexis should really have started today’s match. Even if he can’t score his run and energy would disrupt their defence and create chances for others.

    We are more out than in at this point but it’s definitely not over yet.

  6. February 20, 2013

    I take delight in the joy that our setbacks bring in the non-Barça world. You know why? Because that means they are so rare that people have to grab succor where they can. Everyone hates the class bully, right?

    • Jim
      February 20, 2013

      Yeah, I’ve had about four or five texts already. Mind you, one of them was asking if I still thought Barca were worth a punt for winning the CL at odds of 5-1. Given the score its interesting that folk are still not sure that we can’t do it.

    • mom4
      February 20, 2013

      I’m soooooo staying off any site other than this one. Ooof, but it’s gonna be brutal out there.

      And it’s worse because we deserved this result.

      • Jim
        February 20, 2013

        This one might be bad enough 🙂

    • mohit
      February 20, 2013

      Guardian commenters having a field day!

  7. mom4
    February 20, 2013

    Angry at us, not the ref. The first goal shouldn’t have counted but when we stand around with our hands raised rather than attack the loose ball, that’s watcha get. Want a little urgency, boys!
    We take it to them at home and play like we can and we win. If not, then somebody better knock RM out because I don’t think my heart can bear the decima.

    And, oh joy, there’s a knitting show on public TV. #mamasnewhobby

    • Jim
      February 20, 2013

      It was an indictment of us that Milan didn’t even have to turn nasty.

    • ian_percival
      February 20, 2013

      If we ever get knocked out by milan and the DECIMA happens,then our liga title will look pointless,moronho will deflect all attention,IT’LL BE THE END FOR our EUROPEAN POPULARITY

      • Nik
        February 20, 2013

        Who cares about “EUROPEAN POPULARITY?”

  8. ian_percival
    February 20, 2013

    we need immediate changes within the staff,total nonsense!! Bring us a coach,how can we win the champions league with this stupid roura guy,i’v been hammering on us getting a centre back,tito should face his treatments,we need stability,we need a coach,tito should be done by now,he should step down and give more time to his health,i mean no disrespect,tito had a very good first half of the season,but come on,mark hughes would’ve had the same result with those players at his disposal,tito has never won real madrid in any of their meeting,lets call a spade a spade here. As for the champions league its over!,having hope now is foolishness,why didn’t we sign a centre back during the TW,i’v been saying this all along.am just crying right now.viva barcelona.

    • mom4
      February 20, 2013

      Deep breath…
      Don’t be so quick to through the baby out with the bath water.
      Crap happens. We deal with it. We learn. We move on.

      • mom4
        February 20, 2013

        Can’t we get a spell check on this thing!

      • mohit
        February 20, 2013

        You mean on the original post? 😛

      • mom4
        February 20, 2013

        No. Mine. Throw not through.

      • mohit
        February 20, 2013

        Meant that the OP is so out of line, thought it required a make-over. I have to get better at sarcasm.

    • Jim
      February 20, 2013

      Maybe it’s just me but I find this pretty distasteful. For me, Tito can have as long as he likes – as can Abidal. In the end their beating their illnesses means more to me than a CL trophy. Tito took over in circumstances where any slight weakness would have been pounced on and has the league won already. Pretty good effort in my book.

      • mom4
        February 20, 2013

        Not just you.

      • Nik
        February 20, 2013

        Me three.

      • February 21, 2013

        Tito won the League in half a season. Bossman.

    • TITO
      February 20, 2013

      Actually we did win the first game of the SuperCopa with him in charge.

      • teddy
        February 20, 2013

        him or you? come on tito, we know this is the real you 😛

  9. y2k156
    February 20, 2013

    Well, this was hard to take. Milan totally deserved it. We got some bad calls but i consider it part of the game.

    I missed the start but from 6th minutes on wards, do not remember a single shot on target. All the free kicks and shots were off target so am wondering if we even had a single shot on target.

    Tbh, do not know what to make of it other than we were out played today. Messi was dropping deep & there were no runners. There was no speed in the passing & Milan were pretty good defensively.

    I do not think we will go through in second leg. I just hope that we play a bit better.

    What was missing was genuine threat in addition to Messi. There was no Etoo or Henry or Villa that made other teams bit vary.

    We have lot of very good players, alexis, pedro, iniesta & cesc but none of them really make the opponents wary enough to give Messi space.

    Well, i am looking forward to next leg. Maybe last 90 minutes in europe for this season but i hope we go out with heads held high. Historically the top dogs usually stayed at top for between 3-5 years. Am wondering if the hunger is maybe slightly diminished for most of players.

    No matter waht, visca al barca as CL winners or at whatever position that they are at.

    • February 20, 2013

      Terrific post.

      Your point on going out & just playing as well as possible in leg 2 is so important. That’s all the team can control at this point.

  10. TITO
    February 20, 2013

    There are several types of losses.
    You play good, but cant create many chances, and suddenly they score. it’s bearable.
    You play good, you create chances, but you still somehow manage not to win. You don’t convert your chances. It’s bearable.
    BUT, when you do play like shit, and you cant create a single chance for the whole game, well, that’s something that i cant take it, given the quality of the team.
    One of the worst performances that i have seen this team deliver. And it will probably hold me until the rest of the week.

  11. mom4
    February 20, 2013

    Oooh, I just remembered that I have some DVRed Doctor Who episodes. That’ll cheer me up. 99.9% football free!

  12. TITO
    February 20, 2013

    Speaking to the media, Roura bemoaned the scoreline, stating:”The result was a bit excessive, they only really had two chances.

    Oh really?

    And we had like…???

  13. ibbe
    February 20, 2013

    I’ve been visitig this site for over a year but this is the first time i make a comment. Gotta say, awesome stuff you got here, keep it up!

    Now about the game, well, it was a deserved victory for milan. I’m still hopefull of progression though because this is barca we are talking about. Like Kxevin always says, if the best team in the world plays like it, then we have nothing to worry about.

    If we play to our standards, we will easlily score 4 goals. In 3 weeks time I wanna see this red and black bus burned to the ground. VISCA EL BARCA!

  14. February 20, 2013

    Yo! People! Last time I checked, they have two home goals. Not away goals. Home goals. Used to be that if Messi scored just two goals in a match, people called him a slacker.

    What are the odds that our club is going to suck butt that bad TWICE against the same opponent? Yes, Milan helped us look that bad, but mostly we helped ourselves look that bad. If Milan were at all interested in kicking us when we were down, it could have been worse. 2-0 on home goals? Screw that. A Guardian writer said he still figured us to go through. I’m with him.

    If Milan have another match like that in them, they will deserve to go through. Because I guarantee you, we aren’t going to be that poor again. And definitely not that poor at home.

    • KEVINO17
      February 20, 2013

      True, true – but if they score one at the Camp Nou, we have to score four. Which means it will probably be a goal-fest

      • February 20, 2013

        I give them one at home. So we win 4-1. Remember Chelsea/Napoli last year, as just one example? And they were worse off than we were, on the aggregate scoreline.

      • February 20, 2013

        The problem is that against us no one is going to attack because of the fear. That means we most probably will see a similar performance. The only option is we up the tempo from the word go.

    • teddy
      February 20, 2013

      The bad thing is, given the scoreline, they wouldn’t need to come here to play football at all. In fact, I’m predicting a bigger, more solid bus parked in 3 weeks.

      I still fancy the chance of us going through though. I’m just hoping Villa will start the 2nd leg. Their defenders doesn’t seems to be interested with our other forwards though

  15. ooga aga
    February 20, 2013

    Roura: “El campo era un patatal. Impropio de un partido de estas características”.

    “The pitch was a potato field. Improper for a game of this level.”

    FWIW…

    • February 20, 2013

      Oh, Roura is clutching at straw men. The ball moved just fine laterally on that pitch. The biggest problem with the pitch today was all those Milan feet in the way of our forward passes.

  16. KEVINO17
    February 20, 2013

    I thought out biggest problem was the need for someone back-to-goal who can play wall-passes with Messi and Iniesta and spin around to get on the end of crosses. Pedro, for all his attributes just does not give us that.

  17. February 20, 2013

    It’s as if everyone forgot it’s Hleb-ruary. This has happened every season for at least the last 4. Deep breaths.

    Ask Stuttgart, Lyon, Leverkusen, and Arsenal (2010) how it feels to play at Camp Nou in the round of 16. All of those results would get us through. The only home performance in this round in the last 5 years that wouldn’t go through is the 3-1 from last year.

    Today sucks. But I don’t feel like hope is lost. CAN’T WAIT.

  18. sd
    February 20, 2013

    I suggest to the Barca coaches a new plan.

    When they come up against a team away in the knockout stages that parks the bus or defends deep, forget about them. Show no intent whatsoever to attack and just pass the ball around our own half-way line between the Valdes, the CBs, Xavi and Busquets. Without any intent whatsoever to attack. Keep the forwards and Iniesta up front to ensure their players stay true to their position. Pass, Pass and Pass. If they come out to get the ball, then hit them with the players already up front. If they don’t, play out a nil-nil. That’s fine with me. If they can then come to Barcelona and win, good for them.

    • ibbe
      February 20, 2013

      We are the best team in the history of football (IMO) because we are known for our attacking football and beautiful style, if we give that up then we are no longer special. Winning while playing beautiful football is what made who we are.

      But I do think that we have to make them come out of their box somehow. That’s what Tito needs to figure out for the second leg. Roura has no character. We always found ourselves a goal down in the beginning of the season but we always came back thanks to Tito’s awesome subs.

  19. February 20, 2013

    It wasn’t Roura, or the absence of Vilanova. We jad Guardiola last season and went out against Chelsea. As I said above, their strengths mate well with our weaknesses. Couple that with an abysmal match by us and off ya go.

    But this is one if two legs last I checked. Yes, this team has a problem against parked buses by disciplined opposition. Find me a team that doesn’t.

    This loss was much more a bad day than any systemic, “Everybody out!” sort of craziness. Messi had no shots on goal. That should point out how absurd this day was.

    Were there tactacal and matxh play issues? You bet. Alba dogged it on their first goal. Alves has become an island. Opponents know he isn’t going to shoot and with Messi in the middle, he has nobody to play with. So get in front of his crosses and he is neutralized.

    Put three defenders in front of Messi cuys off the Alves passes and prevents runs. Messi dropping deeper just gives the defense even more time to prepare for Messi. To boot, they defended Iniesta like Messi. Very smart. We helped their cause by being so stationary.

    Milan exploited the space behind Alba as opponents used to do Alves. This was also smart.

    With no runs, Xavi is neutralized. Pedro isn’t a run making kind of player, nor is he going to beat defenders off the dribble. He puts the ball in the net, thriving in an open game.

    Defensively, once you get past the second level, which is only Busquets, wing attack access iswde open. Would this have brought value to a Song/Busquets/Iniesta midfield? Maybe.

    But that is all blather. Simple fact is we were really bad and Milan was really good, which helped to facilitate us being really bad.

    • KEVINO17
      February 20, 2013

      Did Alba dog it on their first goal because he’s being asked to cover too much ground? He’s expected to be both offensive (overlapping to provide width on the left, where we didn’t have a true winger) and defensive.
      We also need someone who can play back to goal and provide a target in front of Messi. I know everybody hates Alexis. But a couple of times Xavi was just able to ping the ball forward and leave it to Alexis to control with his chest. We really missed that option for most of the game. Also, without someone playing back-to-goal, it’s too easy for a narrow team like Milan to concentrate on Messi. Messi’s patent move is to cut across to the left and feed the left winger. Yet, we played without a true left winger. I don’t get that.

    • Kimcelona
      February 20, 2013

      The difference is with the Chelsea semi-final legs last season, it just wasn’t our year. Luck played a huge part in the result. We had the chances, we just didn’t take them. This first leg against Milan, we had no chances. Milan thoroughly outplayed us using their own tactics. And we had no clue what to do. This is where the coach comes into play. Tito was missed! No ifs, and, or buts about it, imo.

  20. mom4
    February 20, 2013

    Oh dear,
    Just got a conciliatory hug from the Madridista at bowling tonight.

    He’s a nice (albeit misguided) guy.

  21. rand
    February 20, 2013

    I got scoffed at not so long ago for suggesting Iniesta and Fabregas playing together is a recipe for disaster and Vilanova will end up where his predecessor ended up, if this bizarre love affair that Barcelona managers seem to have with Fabregas continues on.

    Apparently Fabregas, Xavi and Iniesta playing together is more important than winning trophies. We got exactly what we deserved.

    Best thing about this result? It will put a lid on the bleating on about ‘the best club in the world’ when we are not anywhere near being the best club in the world. Wake up and smell the coffee ffs.

    We need a miracle in the second leg. Hoping for Messi to work some magic. Can it be done? Yes, we can!

    • February 20, 2013

      The best club in the world doesn’t always play like it. The best anything in the world doesn’t always play like it. It happens.

      Miracles? All we need in the second leg is for the best club in the world to show up. And it won’t take a miracle from Messi. It will take a total team effort that Messi is a part of, the same kind of effort that was so lacking today. Sometimes after a match like this, all the team has to do is watch the video. The players know.

      We put our best eleven on the pitch and trusted in that. It didn’t work today for any number of reasons. Now the club moves on.

      • rand
        February 20, 2013

        Best club in the world doesn’t struggle against the first half-decent opponent they come up against. Oh, wait, we already did that against Celtic. This is not the best club side in the world, not by a long shot. We stopped being the best side in the world not long after Eto’o and Henry left.

        Scoring six past opponents who show up with a defeatist attitude is not what makes a team the best in the world. Doing it against quality opponents in the CL and against RM is. We haven’t done that. Milan weren’t just better, they were dominant, they didn’t rely on luck or the pitch either.

        That miracle I talked about? Well, we need two, that is if we can stop them from scoring and to get to penalties. Would love to see it come from Messi’s boot. He has saved our asses time and time again, why not 3 weeks from now? Deluded? May be. But I live in hope. In the mean time, I hope our current manager – Vilanova/Roura/Cesc/Xavi/Santa Claus/whoever – can sort out the issues.

        This outcome will take everyone – players and fans – down a peg or two, that was very much needed. Although this hurts like hell, watching Sanchez bashers squirm has made my day. Can you imagine the outcry if Sanchez and Mascherano played this match from the start?

  22. Archie
    February 20, 2013

    Condolences!

    Why don’t Messi, Iniesta, Cesc, Pedro play for the foul like Iniesta drag-back last season to get a penalty off Ramos? First half today was attempt at dominance and tiring Milan, but there came a time to attack. Why not create penetration that will result in the 25 yard free kick. The sky TV commentator kept mentioning that Barca wasn’t winning free kicks. I know there was a lot going on, but Barca needs ways to get chances against parked bus. Get fouled, then work on lots of different free kick ideas…

    • Kimcelona
      February 20, 2013

      “Why don’t Messi, Iniesta, Cesc, Pedro play for the foul like Iniesta drag-back last season to get a penalty off Ramos?”

      The Uefalona conspiracists would be at an all time high obnoxious level.

      • February 20, 2013

        The big difference in today is that Milan wasn’t going to tire because the way that we attacked them made it easy. The ball was pretty much always in the center of pitch. No need for their CBs to even move very much. When it got to the wings, they let Alves play around with the ball, then just blocked the crosses that he put into the box. On the left, control Iniesta and it doesn’t matter what Alba does.

        Kick-ass game plan. Now come the tactical adjustments, and wake-up call for the return leg.

  23. Wind170
    February 20, 2013

    Attracting opposition players of teams mainly based on counter-attacking
    is only effective when opposition have a desire to win within 90 mins.
    However, some are willing to play until the penalties in the knockout rounds. Examples are plenty, the CL final with 2 Italian teams ~ 1 decade ago, some world cup matches involving the teams you know(you can guess who they are…),esp. in the trailing stage, this method will not be useful.

    True the strategy(Barca) in this match is shockingly(…),
    a player is injured very obviously in its head(containing the most organ in the body).Pull him off instantly, almost no 2nd thoughts are required. The team is trailing, put an attacker it. More timely and brave decisions are needed. Again, made a defensive sub when the team trails by [# goals],what do one expect Mascherano to do in ‘chasing the game’?

    The var movements are gone…The method does not work with almost static and slow movement in the final 3rd. Almost no one dare to take risks in this crucial areas. Aren’t some of them being rested for the previous game? More variable movements needed(esp from the FW which is silent in this match).
    Use the var magnets and rel the metallic spider strings.

    Some players don’t want to be rested, usually the top players. Unless they take the opponents lightly, rest these players. If they want to play, so that they can play their [whatever shtg off] in the next crucial match.

    They almost don’t have any choice. Trailing by 2 goals…If they still play with this method and attitude, then one knows what happens. Now, they will have to bear the mentality even greater than in the Rivaldo’s Barca with Chelsea(even though this blue team plays differently than the current one), to at least have a chance.

    Yes, someone has got only 2 valid chance, but look at the stat, Barca has only 1 shot on target. Are the players,esp the wide ones too timid to challenge their way into the ‘key area’. Yet someone describe themselves similar to a certain basketball team. Look at how they play. Do they play all Ray Allens on the team(/his strag)?
    Just Passing the ball beneath the final 3rd & the midfield, then opponents are bitten by insects in the shirt…feeling not even itchy…

    Still ceding the cuts?!!

    They have to let the next generation learn & grow. See how some baby eagles or other birds learn to fly…Certain long long established players are becoming more prone to injury. Try the younger ones in the big games where a huge challenge awaits and changes are needed.
    Lose 2-1 is no different from lost #-nil…
    Learn to be more intelligent & be brave…
    No one can blame Guardiola for putting those risky strags in the maddest(an adj used by other ppl) 2 matches, coz he did not know the results before the match commenced. At least he dared to play those so called risky methods.
    Technically good(esp on taking ppl on) are useful if they are allowed to express themselves. Coz they have to maxmize their work-rate as do others. Players with better work-rate and pressing other than scoring can do their job suited to their style…The engine doesn’t have to be slow all the time & in the middle/by C(A)M only…
    Expts may not work, but same strag as today?!…

    It’s hard to restrict the opposition to 0 shots even when you have a world class defense…in fact one know how Barca defense fare in terms of shot-per conceded goal ratio in big games recently.
    The defense organization & coordination, however, needs sharpening. almost no one to close down the CF but 4 defenders run hectically to chase Muntari? Certain shout-outs are necessary…

    Absolute concentration are necessary, are there replays reviewed after each single goal now? No idea…At least this is the time to play safe to defend 1st before conceding the goal as others mention.

    The team supports each other but the mids should support more the FWs, rather than the opposite. The strag in this game not working, change it mid-game, like other managers/coaches does,e.g. Guardiola. One find it ridiculous to see Wenger/Arsenal approach, passing the ball far far away from goal…The whole team should be awake, not asleep, try new things as old strag(even occured several times) can get solved quickly with current tech. And Messi really get something to prove, C.Ronaldo scores 1 goal and the tying goal, can he score # goals(counting # fingers) and the [crucial] goal?

  24. fcbfan10
    February 20, 2013

    my question: did milan park the bus?

    bus parking team counter attacks with 2,3 players. milan attacked with whole team. sometimes their defense line was almost on half line. to me they played like RM or Valencia, very high pressed game. and they had definitely more than two chances. we were just out played by a 200% focussed team coupled with our bad performance.

    at times they were sitting deep cause we pushed them back with more possession. was that bus their choice or our possession forcing them to park? i am courious.

    am i the only cule think this way?

    • February 20, 2013

      I’d say they parked the bus intelligently. Their way of attacking was also very intelligent, because it took into account our slow build up. Even if the attack failed, they left defenders back to deal with the 1 or 2 leakers that might find their way forward.

    • fcbfan10
      February 20, 2013

      hmm.. there’s no edit button, i see.

      i like to make myself clear.

      Chelsea parked the bus.
      Celtic parked the bus.
      but Milan defend greatly.

      • February 21, 2013

        Milan parked the bus and left it on neutral so they could still move it vertically along pitch based on where Barca have possession. Too often Puyol had no options going forward. At the same time, the lack of vertical movement from our forwards meant there wasn’t much on for Xavi when he got the ball either.

        Here’s a thought, and i do think this is the kind of game that it might be effective. Instead of Messi dropping deep against a solid block such as this, why not get him to play as a True 9. CB’s know what they’re getting with him wandering off. How would they deal with him positioning himself between them, closer to goal. They seemingly still wouldn’t know who should pick him up.

        Another approach may also be Guardiola’s hybrid 3 at the back, with Busquets dropping into defence and Alba and Alves playing as wing-backs. This would allow an overload on the flanks, and they would not be able to afford to let Alves “do his thing and block off his crosses” like Kxevin says. You play your way into the box, instead of crossing it Mexes.

  25. bhed
    February 20, 2013

    This is what happens when you don’t press, on both sides of the center circle. I seem to remember ferocious pressing in all our greatest victories. Seriously, why don’t we press like that anymore?

    • bhed
      February 20, 2013

      That was poorly stated – I meant bad things happen on both sides of the pitch when we don’t press, and of course good things happen when we do press. And I’m mostly thinking of great victories in the last few years. The final question stands though.

    • KEVINO17
      February 20, 2013

      Quite right. This is what happens when you play without a dedicated winger on the left. There is a pocket left when they get the ball because Alba and the Don are scrambling back to do their day jobs. Rather, you need a dedicated winger who goes straight for the ball the moment it’s lost.

    • February 20, 2013

      That’s one of the questions that I have been asking, and being called a Messi hater for. When the whole team pressed (Guillem Balague pointed out that very thing, and lord, how I hate to agree with him), it was “You have six seconds to get the ball back.”

      There are a number of reasons, but they are all speculation on my part.

      — Fatigue. This is a tired football club. Couple aging with that, and it doesn’t take much to see how that can limit the press.

      — Personnel. Eric Abidal was an immense asset that made the press possible. Any daring that didn’t pan out was swept away by him.

      — Tactics. The team is getting width now by sticking the wingers out wide and getting attacking width from the fullbacks. This means that the overall shape is much like a donut, with that hole in the middle.

      — Intelligent opponents. Busquets isn’t a secret any longer, so teams are attacking him directly by sending more than one man at him, or lofting the ball over him to get directly at our back line.

      — Availability of players to press. Without putting anything into it, Messi doesn’t press because he needs to be available for offensive duties. This creates holes. Couple that with Alba and or Alves being farther forward, and wing forwards being removed from the center of the pitch, and all of a sudden you have imbalances everywhere.

      — Talent. Messi, Eto’o and Henry are very different than (in today’s match) Fabregas, Messi and Pedro. Two of the three are less potent as an attacking force, less dynamic and less quick/fast than their predecessors. Doesn’t take much to see how that would hamper a press.

      — Long balls. Nothing stops a press like a good long ball over the top of it. As the sprites try to clamp down in the midfield, opponents just send a runner up the wings, and loft a pass to him. That person can usually outrun Pique, who he has one on one, since Alves is usually up the pitch on the attack.

      • bhed
        February 20, 2013

        So do we make the tradeoffs and reinstate the “6 second rule”, or do we trust in better form?

      • fcbfan10
        February 20, 2013

        my two cents would be LONG BALLS.

        oppenants know we’d press as soon as we lost ball, so they just kick the ball in general direction of huge space behind our CFs and let their pacy forwards go for it. before they tried to pass the ball TO their forwards, now just in that direction generally.

      • February 21, 2013

        Hats off to you for your confidence that we can win at home 4-1.
        We are always poor against good parked bus. Milan had an intelligent bus. The first time in the recent bus matches, we couldnt even create chances. So we can sure expect them to drive it to barcelona.

        I am just wondering on few things.

        At least during these kind of matches, why dont we use long balls, instead of again passing the ball back to the goalie. Puyi and Xavi keep on doing back passes, which only allows opposition players enough time to regroup and press us high. And pressing us high is the big word now. The only way we can ignore these pressers, is long ball. We saw Pique in the box only in the injury time. Wasnt using Pique our plan B. Shouldnt we have used him much earlier, at least when we were one goal down.

        In these kind of matches, we should compromise our possessions obsession little bit. Should not use Xavi for such matches, as he is always looking for safer play than risky penetration.

        Why dont we have any off the ball runners, when Messi and Iniesta are playing deep.

        I am sure they will service their bus and drive it to Barcelona. Would need an incredible game from us to go through. The problem is this is an Italian bus. Even chances might not come.

  26. alpinegroove
    February 20, 2013

    I kept hoping to see Thiago come in for Xavi or Iniesta. We need another vertical player. Alexis alone was not enough.

  27. barca96
    February 20, 2013

    1st goal
    Hand ball

    2nd goal
    Alves same mistake. Usually his move leaving his position was justified but not this time.

    Goodbye CL.

    And what are the coaches gonna do about it?
    Play Messi in every single match.

    • February 20, 2013

      The 2nd goal wasn’t Alves’s fault per se. Again the same thing happened – milan attacked the channel between L CB and L FB. Alba was up the pitch & didn’t get back (and didn’t run back hard enough either…)

      This forced the whole back line over left & the line lost shape. Alves was forced to cover an attacker in the center which left the wide attacker unmarked. But if Alves doesn’t mark that attacker he’s completely open in front of goal. 1 defender can’t mark 2 players separated in space at once.

      Over and over teams are targeting that L channel and Barca still hasn’t developed a solution for how to defend this space. And it’s hurting the team recurrently.

      • Jim
        February 21, 2013

        Absolutely

  28. barca96
    February 20, 2013

    This team looks like a bully now as it seems that we can only beat a small team and not a CL worthy team.

    I known Messi is going to get a lot of heat but he was constantly double marked.

    Iniesta and Pedro are there ones I would heavily criticize.

  29. February 21, 2013

    I think Messi was possibly the least crappy player. Not saying much though. A team defeat if ever there was one. Review’s up, guys.

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