Off To That One City Again: Milan – Barcelona

ACMilanVSBarca

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 Germany with his wife and daughter.

240 Comments

  1. K_legit in Oz
    February 20, 2013

    Of course Messi needs to run all through the match, or else…
    -_-

  2. nia
    February 20, 2013

    Lets have a bet of who will fall down first. Alexis or Bojan, kkk. I say Bojan 😉

    On another note, these little kids in Granada are persistent little buggers. Almost broke Messi in half on one of their races to get a souvenir from the players. Messi didnèt know what hit him http://youtu.be/vvVX1Lo7zwA

    • barca96
      February 20, 2013

      That is if Bojan even gets to play 🙂

      I actually hope he plays though cause the players know him very well unlike the new players like El Shwarawy (not new but can’t recall him from last season), and Niang.

      On that video. That loud mouthed kid probably said something nasty to Messi. Just a few weeks ago Messi was all cool when an adult pitch invader approached him.

      And in another video that has been circulating on the net, apparently that kid invaded the pitch when Madrid came to town too. That little kid must’ve been a Madrid fan. I actually saw a number of Madrid fans in the Granada stadium.

  3. Reto
    February 20, 2013

    Really looking forward to the match since I’m going to be in the San Siro tonight.

    Expect Milan to be a tough opponent especially in their stadium, though I think Barça will be able to get an advantage for the second leg by at least not losing tonight.

    Let’s hope for an exciting kick, guys!

    • Messiah10
      February 20, 2013

      Be wary of the Ultra’s! 😮

  4. pr17
    February 20, 2013

    I would jump at this deal offered by Juve for sanchez. 5 Mn for 1 year loan deal and then 20 Mn outright. Recoups 24 Mn we paid for him.

    http://www.football-italia.net/30982/juventus%E2%80%99-idea-net-sanchez

    BTW, Look forward to today’s matches. I would be wary of ACM’s set piece threat. Niang is a big fella and mexes and zapata for tall too. I have a feeling Pazzini will score too.

    • barca96
      February 20, 2013

      I would keep Alexis. He’s far too versatile for us. And he’s the water carrier type of player like Busi.

      Neymar/Alexis/Deulofeu – Messi – Pedro/Alexis/Tello/Cuenca

      Pretty talented forwards we have.
      I do hope both Cuenca and Tello will stay next season.
      I can’t wait to see Cuenca in action for us again.

    • Messiah10
      February 20, 2013

      I would also keep him. He’s been far to important to our success this season. I hope Cules don’t forget that we were unbeaten in our first 17 matches this season. He played a huge role in that streak. His pressing and energy, along with intelligent runs into space wouldn’t be easily replaced.

  5. IamXavi6
    February 20, 2013

    1-1? You’re being far too diplomatic.

    I’d be dissapointing if we dont roll them at least 3-1 and put this one to bed quite early.

    Anything less than a convincing win here will be a surpirse and a dissapointment to me. I just do NOT rate Milan at all.

  6. February 20, 2013

    Imagine if we see the lineup of Nov ’10 soon sometime this season, I’d go crazy!
    Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Pedro, Messi, Villa

    • February 20, 2013

      I thought Villa was left in Barcelona to continue his recovery. Is this correct? I’m not seeing squad lists anywhere.

      • nzm
        February 20, 2013

        Yup – he’s not in Milan. But Gogah did say sometime this season ‘cos Abi’s not back yet either. 😉

  7. February 20, 2013

    Hmmm …. a whiny Messi jibe and some Sanchez action. Now let’s return to matters at hand.

    Blau-Grenade offered up a really good Milan breakdown in the previous thread that is worth having a gander at. That is a dangerous side because their strengths (speed, movement, killer counter) play to our weaknesses. That defense doesn’t give up much either, typically of an Italian side. El Hairrawy worries me. He’s been shaded by Balotelli of late, but that dude is danger, especially off the break.

    I would love to see a Fabregas/Sanchez/Messi front line. Movement, an excellent shot from distance and Messi. But I figure Pedro in that Sanchez spot.

    Possession will be of paramount importance, because when Milan get the ball, they are going to break hard, with the pokiness of our back line in mind. If Xavi hasn’t been passed fit, I will be a worried cowboy. Wouldn’t mind an Iniesta/Busquets/Song midfield in that case, because I still want Fabregas up front.

    I’m figuring on 2-2, to be decided at the Camp.

    • ooga aga
      February 20, 2013

      xavi is fit to play, but i wouldnt be surprised if he started on the bench.

      iniesta messi pedro
      thiago cesc
      busi
      alba pique puyol alves
      valdes

      • February 20, 2013

        Ah! Iniesta on LW, you’re thinking. He’ll certainly winnow his way into the box enough.

        I’m a lot more worried about this match than many cules, and not just because I’m a worrier. I still think we win the tie, but it isn’t going to be a cakewalk.

        • ooga aga
          February 20, 2013

          well, there is always the flexibility of cesc crashing the box and iniesta dropping into midfield. both players are versatile.

          i think thiago is good enough to start against milan, he has been looking sharp,,,except that horrible giveaway on the freekick last weekend….oy vey….

        • Messiah10
          February 20, 2013

          Put your worries aside. Milan aren’t going to trouble us. They have problems creating chances and this will be a stroll in the park. I expect our A game right out of the gate. 4-1 score line. Messi 2 goals, Iniesta 1, & Puyol header from a corner!

  8. February 20, 2013

    My lineup:

    Valdes
    Alves Puyol Pique Alba
    Thiago Busquets Fabregas
    Alexis Messi Iniesta

    Same as ooga’s but with Alexis instead of Pedro. Xavi can come on later if we need more control, Pedro if we need more width.

  9. February 20, 2013

    “I would jump at this deal offered by Juve for sanchez. 5 Mn for 1 year loan deal and then 20 Mn outright. Recoups 24 Mn we paid for him.”

    I don’t see why we should sell Alexis for less than we paid, especially with the years left on his contract. Receiving large parts of the transfer fee one year later makes it an even worse deal imo.

    Here’s a thought. Over the last season and a half Pedro scored only 1 more goal than Lexus, even though he played 12 more games. But only one of the two is our daily scapegoat.

    Discuss!

    • Messiah10
      February 20, 2013

      I don’t get the Cules who are Alexis haters. The dude comes to play every game. He works his ARSE off to help the team! Yes, he’s fluffed some chances. So has all of our other squad members including Messi. I think he’s essential to our team and I’d hate to see him go. If nothing else came out of the “Messi doesn’t run as much as the others” debate, surely the importance of Alexis in the team was seen??? I think he’ll start this match and harry the back line and create all kinds of havoc. He’s so good at it and I expect some cheap give aways from Milan defenders because of it. Probably resulting in a Messi goal. Visca Sanchez, Visca Barca, Visca Catalunya!

    • nzm
      February 20, 2013

      Here’s a thought. Over the last season and a half Pedro scored only 1 more goal than Lexus, even though he played 12 more games. But only one of the two is our daily scapegoat.

      Discuss!

      One of them is a (late) La Masia grad, and the other is not? 😀

      • February 20, 2013

        @Messiah10
        Just to make clear, even though I quoted pr17 I am not saying he is an “Alexis-hater” or that he is scapegoating him by saying he would except Juve’s reported offer.
        I think Pedro should start in place of Lexus. The CL knock-out stage is no place for players low on confidence.

        @nzm
        Mmmm maybe that sentiment prevails in Catalunya, and you would be one of the best-placed persons to inform us, however most here are international culés.
        I love how la Masía produces so many good players and I generally prefer to see local talent over “imports” on any team, anywhere, but I think this current Barça has enough homegrown players for this not to be an issue.

        One of the disadvantages of not being from the Masía could be that having cost us over 26M euro (+11M in variables) might mean people feel he is not living up to the expectations that transfer fee generated.

      • Clouseau
        February 20, 2013

        I don’t think so it’s rather a debate of merits vs non-merits.

        One is a long-standing and successful part of the team who has proven his nack for goals and his mental strengths while the other one is still a freshman who had his purple patches(some spectaculary ie clásico)but still has a lot to offer to gain that status Pedro has..

        And to be honest that’s pretty harsh and goddamn unfair but a normal way of thinking in the eyes of a fan 🙂

  10. February 20, 2013

    Going with our best XI vs Milan:

    Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Alba; Sergio, Xavi, Fabregas; Iniesta, Pedro, Messi.

      • February 20, 2013

        I got the Big. Game. Neeerves rolling around in my stomach!

        Anything less than a win, I ‘ll be disappointed. High expectations are a mo-fo, I know!

  11. xavi_purrnandez
    February 20, 2013

    Visca Barça! so excited to see our boys play tonight 🙂

  12. rocherto
    February 20, 2013

    Jersey-check
    Nachos-check
    Have the wife sing along with the champions league anthem -check
    (Believe me it works)
    Ok I think I’m ready 🙂

    Btw glad to see a Xavi start and Iniesta on the left. Gonna be interesting.

    Big breath….

  13. mom4
    February 20, 2013

    Post descriptively please— I’m stuck at a kid’s physical therapy appt. for a while and can’ t watch. 🙁

  14. Rivaldo
    February 20, 2013

    After all the debates this week and looking back at some matches, while watching today I’m thinking “Boy have we lost some dynamic… credit to the opposition… but FLUIDITY???”
    A bit static…compared i guess

  15. Judas Pissed
    February 20, 2013

    This is a terrible refereeing performance – one of the worst I’ve seen…

  16. Artur
    February 20, 2013

    Links anybody?
    And comments on first half? just tuning in now.

    • ooga aga
      February 20, 2013

      milan have all their players in the last 1/3 or 1/4 of the pitch. serious bus parking going on. we havent had many clear chances, but it’s tough when there are two lines of 5 with almost no space in between.

      interestingly, messi was playing on the right wing for the last part of the half.

    • ooga aga
      February 20, 2013

      66% possession, us.

      367 passes to 160 for milan, we have 84% completion while they have about 60.

      when they get the ball, there is lots of space behind us to attack. weve seen this before. el-hairaway (like that one) looks dangerous.

      pique was playing up as a 9 for a bit there. puyol is looking boss in defense.

  17. Jafri
    February 20, 2013

    Packing the block at the back. I hate the 0-0 away draw. One stupid lucky goal at our home can settle those ties. I really hope we get at least one goal in the next half.

  18. Momo
    February 20, 2013

    Ugh, I hate playing italian teams. Not to be a pessimist but it wont be good if they go with a 0-0 to the camp nou

  19. Please bring in Tello for Cesc. We don’t need Cesc for these kind of matches. we have to start the threat from the left to make an impact.

  20. Jafri
    February 20, 2013

    Sanchez needs to come on. I’d like to see Cesc off, Iniesta in the middle, Sanchez and Pedro up front.

  21. TITO
    February 20, 2013

    And our game plan is??? Pass the ball till death?
    Oh wait, they parked the bus!
    As i said 2 weeks ago when we faced a really weakened RM and didn’t took the chance to kill the tie there, we are doing the same tonight. Facing one of the weakest Milan teams in the past 20 years, instead of playing our game, more accuracy in our passes, faster balls, try and break that defensive line, we our doing our best in replicating our Chelsea game. Pass, pass, pass, pass…oops, the game is over.
    We have to kill the tie in San Siro. One stupid, out of nowhere goal from them and we will be screwed, regardless if it’s tonight or in the return leg.
    Simply, we are not trying enough to play more dangerously, this is just to safe for my liking.

    • Jim
      February 20, 2013

      I’m not seeing this as a very weak team. They have a whack of pace and decent first time passing on the counter..

    • Rivaldo
      February 20, 2013

      What i would say is that where this Barca really irks me is not playing with enough urgency sometimes and we then only see it when we’re chasing the game. In this game, like the Madrid one a couple of weeks ago i thought we played too cautious and not to be scored on… when we do that we always get scored on. When need to take the game by the scruff of its neck more often. Be ruthless; “that’s the greatest way to respect another team”

  22. Blau-Grenade
    February 20, 2013

    Its gonna be 0 0 if the lineups stay the same. I have a feeling Xavi is not 100%…. he is not turning the ball around quick enough, and/or making crisp passes.

  23. pr17
    February 20, 2013

    Cowardly bus parking from Milan. It was to be expected.
    Best stat for us is that in last 5 years no team has been able to clock 50% + possession against us. We play on our terms but 10 man bus parking is still cowardly from Milan.

    Tello might be able to do something. In matches like these i miss cuenca who is the best person to stretch a defence and send good crosses. For me Cuenca >> Tello. Tello will have space to run onto.

    Not a game for cesc. Maybe somebody on left wing, even alexis is better than iniesta there.

  24. HisR0yalFlyness
    February 20, 2013

    No width vs parked bus. We’ve seen this before. We know how well that works for us.

  25. Jim
    February 20, 2013

    I’m happy with us not making mistakes at the moment. The game will open up.

  26. pr17
    February 20, 2013

    what a stupid ref this one is. Why do they let brits officiate.

  27. nia
    February 20, 2013

    That was a bloody handball. Fucking hell!!!

  28. rocherto
    February 20, 2013

    I hate to be that guy but this ref sucks!!
    Where was the hand ball call?

  29. ooga aga
    February 20, 2013

    he’s berlusconi’s b***h, this ref

  30. pr17
    February 20, 2013

    1 out of 1 back pass from alexis. I am keeping count today

  31. mom4
    February 20, 2013

    Hate to say it —but when we’re too busy “calling” the game to defend, then they deserve to go up. It was a handball, but play to the whistle, dudes.

    • rocherto
      February 20, 2013

      Good point
      All to often are we guilty of that

    • nzm
      February 20, 2013

      Yup. All the Barca guys were standing with their hands up.

  32. jordi™
    February 20, 2013

    Still have to play according to the whistle.*face palm*

  33. pr17
    February 20, 2013

    the bugger didnt even add 20 secs as extra time. I could clearly remember prince, constant and montolivo falling down in first half. Litany of small but crucial errors from the idiot scot.

    • Jim
      February 20, 2013

      Ok, he made a rickets of the handball and ill never defend a ref on principle even if he is a Scot but criticising him for not adding 20 secs?

      • pr17
        February 20, 2013

        Nothing about his scottishness. But he hasnt been the brightest of refs.

        • nzm
          February 20, 2013

          Then why mention that he’s a Scotsman at all?

  34. Jim
    February 20, 2013

    Not sure there was any time to do anything . The handball took all the pace off the ball and he hit it when it dropped.

  35. Jim
    February 20, 2013

    This is the start of the Italian time wasting and breaking up the game.

  36. Manish
    February 20, 2013

    There is nothing happening for Barca.. i think the score will remain as it is… 🙁

  37. Momo
    February 20, 2013

    Milan playing the perfect anti-barca game. We are not exactly helping since we have reverted back to our late 2011-2012 form of penetration-less possession

  38. jordi™
    February 20, 2013

    At least at Stamford Bridge we missed a host of chances. We didn’t create anything tonight.

  39. pr17
    February 20, 2013

    We should ask pedro and alexis to make runs and ask xavi and iniesta to take a few risks and try passing onto them even if it is 30-50% probability ball. Some balls will be swept untidily and messi can sweep them up

  40. Judas Pissed
    February 20, 2013

    This is dreadful. I’ve had more fun watching paint dry.

  41. pr17
    February 20, 2013

    it has been good defending. Have to admit. Atleast in chelsea drogba was atrocious with his timewasting. Here they have been very good.

  42. nia
    February 20, 2013

    You know what. Barca deserve this. WTH!!!! At least try to get one now.

  43. jordi™
    February 20, 2013

    :rolleyes:

    Never have we been more inept tactically.

  44. samarth-culé
    February 20, 2013

    I miss Tito… sob sob :'(

  45. pr17
    February 20, 2013

    another case where alves missed his flank and comes to centre. How many times have we seen this

    • Jim
      February 20, 2013

      Oh come on. Have a look again. He didnt have a lot of choice there or the first man was getting the shot away.

    • caosanping
      February 20, 2013

      Alves has a man to mark in the middle. He tried to block the pass but failed. I think somebody on the right side (Pedro or Xavi) should have come back and track the person who was completely unmarked.

      To be fair, many goals conceded on the right flank this season were not purely Alves’s fault. How often did we see Pedro or whoever on the right flank track back to the box this season? I don’t recall a lot.

      Also this season our attacking force has shifted to the left side because of Alba. This left our right side less dangerous on attacking but more shady on defending. Remember how we used to blame our left defenders (Abidal, Adriano, ….) for goals? It’s the same reason.

    • bhed
      February 20, 2013

      Disagree on this one. He was definitely covering for Pique on the 2nd goal. I thought he was one of the few bright spots in the team today. It was the front 5 that blew it today.

  46. Judas Pissed
    February 20, 2013

    One of the worst Barca performances I have ever seen. Milan have been ordinary but Barca have been absolutely dreadfull.

  47. pr17
    February 20, 2013

    Is it time for pique to play centre forward.

  48. nia
    February 20, 2013

    so close, Puyi. come on boys, VAMOS!!!

  49. Judas Pissed
    February 20, 2013

    There is no way we are turning this around in the second leg. No chance whatsoever.

    • jordi™
      February 20, 2013

      We might get an early red card. I wouldnt care. Red cards and penalties.

  50. jordi™
    February 20, 2013

    Jordi Roura makes a sub, but only out of necessity .

  51. mom4
    February 20, 2013

    Need me a new hobby- gonna get a book at the library that’ll teach me to knit.

    • rocherto
      February 20, 2013

      I thought it was to cold but I’m going back out to the wood shop. Maybe I’ll make a book shelf or something.

  52. samarth-culé
    February 20, 2013

    VV has so far conceded 400 goals in 489 games for Barca.

  53. nia
    February 20, 2013

    Messi had a stinker today. Well deserved loss, I hate to admit it.

  54. samarth-culé
    February 20, 2013

    Bye-bye tactics… We were sooooooooooo dreadful :/

  55. pr17
    February 20, 2013

    i wouldnt mind asking alexis to give the ref a kick in the goolies now

  56. Rivaldo
    February 20, 2013

    With all that’s being said, I think we ought to give it up to Milan for sticking to their tasks tonight and carrying out their tactics well. Great game-plan too; evidence: they won.

    I think Barca need a tonic. I hope this match clears up some ideas about the “system” and how and when it is most effective (food for thought).

    With all this being said, I’m PISSED AS HELL RIGHT NOW, and it aint with the ref… Dammit! Barca wasn’t “unlucky” tonight; for me, our standard was low.

    We’ll see what we’re really made of come the next match (and the Real Madrid. The outcome will define us for many, and there will be no excuses.

    Win as a team, lose as a team. Visca Barca!

  57. ooga aga
    February 20, 2013

    this is why i hate when the official site, in the lead up to the game, goes on and on about how we havent lost to milan in 9 years. why be so cocksure?

  58. Brilliant performance by Milan. We were nonsense. There goes the UCL. Now upto Copa Del rey. When Sanchez was sent in instead of Tello, it summed up what we were going to get.

    • nzm
      February 20, 2013

      Because Tello is poor at defence?

      Alexis should have started – and on the right.

      • Ok, especially when you know before hand that Milan will be defnding deep! Tello should have started. Considering Sanchez’s poor form he should not have even played.

  59. TITO
    February 20, 2013

    Awful, awful.
    Who’s tonight scapegoat? Will somebody state that Iniesta and Xavi were dreadful and absolutely did nothing? Or it’s Messi’s fault for not tracking back?
    I have mentioned several times and i will say it again. Forward’s first task is to go forward and try and create something or take a chance.
    Congratulations to Milan, very well deserved victory.

    • caosanping
      February 20, 2013

      It’s not somebody’s fault. We don’t have a coach sitting on the bench. Does anyone seriously believe our beautiful football is merely due to the talents of players? The coach does a lot of things, especially in critical matches like this. This game reminds me the last games under Rijkarrd. The coach did little and players tried hard but didn’t know what could work out. I am missing Tito.

      • TITO
        February 20, 2013

        Nevertheless, this was exact copy of some of the painful matches that we have lost in the resent times. When you see that during the first half, why persisting to continue with the same attitude and game plan? What’s the point?
        Milan parked the bus. Everybody knew that they are going to do that. Coaches job is to try and figure it out how to unbreak it, and surprise us all with something unfamiliar for Barcelona. That’s that plan B and plan C and plan D…
        When was the last time that they did surprised us in these sort of games?

  60. ooga aga
    February 20, 2013

    we will probably need at least 4 goals at home. i like them to nick one….

    stranger things have happened,but….ugh….

  61. February 20, 2013

    You could see this coming a mile away……………………..

    • caosanping
      February 20, 2013

      I agree. In the group stage I already see Barca won’t go far this year in the CL. Shaky defense, other attackers can’t score except Messi… This season Barca consistently lacked good performance against good teams (even in the League, just think about games against RM, Valencia, Seville, Malaga, etc). I feel Barca lost the sharpness and solidness against strong teams, which were the hallmark of Pep’s Barca.

      • endico
        February 20, 2013

        Your comment about Barca is absolutely true. I have never been this uncomfortbale and fearful whenever Barca plays against big clubs. Even when we end up winning it’s not always convincing or decisive. Maybe I should lower my expectation and stop seeing Braca as favorites. Interestingly, just before the game I had an arguement with a friend who is a Chelsea fan. He told me Barca wil be knocked out soon but I told him we are winning the CL because of the wembley factor. But see now.

  62. Jim
    February 20, 2013

    You can’t argue with the quality of their defence. I could hardly see a chance to pass through them whole game and I was watching on TV! Expected no less from an Italian team. Turning point was the lucky break for the first goal. Need to watch the second again. Not sure how we got stretched so quickly.

    Having said that, we really can’t rely on Messi against a whole Italian defence. When he drops that deep we need someone playing the real 9 who is comfortable with his back to the goal.

    Congratulations to them. However, it’s not over yet.

  63. Momo
    February 20, 2013

    Ugh…

    Our system has mutated back into what it was in 2011-2012. Tippy tappy with no penetration. Milan’s CB didnt break a sweat. I can only assume the result would have been very different had Tito been here. No movement, no urgency for most of the game, and very little direction.

    I can’t point my disapointment at one player, because the failure was a collective one IMO.

    There is still a 40% chance we can knick two goals in the camp nou and win it on penalties. Here’s hoping the kinks get sorted by then

    VISCA BARCAAAAAAAAAA

  64. HisR0yalFlyness
    February 20, 2013

    Hopefully if the other games weren’t enough of a wake up call this one is. We have a problem and it needs addressing quickly.

  65. fcbfan10
    February 20, 2013

    do we have a shot on goal? not even one clear cut chance was created. tonight’s performance was worse than chelsea last season. huge, HUGE task ahead back at home ground. and xavi looked not himself. was messi on the pitch? all i saw was our captain puyi.

    • statistically we had one, a tame chip by Xavi on to the hand of Abbiati. I have said in one post that this season we looked like a an upgraded version of Arsenal and someone actually recommended for the worst over reaction by a cule award.

      Today everyone saw what we were. Last season also we failed against Chelsea, but that was mainly because we didn’t take our chances. at least we created something. This match we did nothing stroked the ball here and there. I was expecting Roura to send Tello in for Cesc at half time, all I got was Alexis.

      We actually went forward on the left flank once, a area we were using so well this season.

      If we have to get through this tie, we have to be really lucky and also for heaven’s sake move Villa into middle and start Messi on right for a change. The combination between Messi and alves on right should stretch any team.

      • fcbfan10
        February 20, 2013

        messi was standing on the right flank for the last 10 min. but he was completely ignored. ball kept going back to left side with iniesta and alba(or alexis).

      • Jim
        February 20, 2013

        I actually agree with your last paragraph. Villa is a no brainer if we’re to have any chance. Cesc starts on the bench and I think we start Messi on the right. They’ll double team him but won’t want to put three defenders wide. The problem tonight was that the defenders marking Messi in the middle weren’t isolated from the rest of the defence and could contribute to clogging up all the passing angles.

        Mind you, it would also help if we could get the ball to him quickly. Big call for Roura to make though.

  66. Judas Pissed
    February 20, 2013

    Can’t see any chance of us turning this around. Milan will get one at the Nou Camp so we will need FOUR! No chance.

  67. mohit
    February 20, 2013

    There’s still that return leg. Although tough, I fancy we’ll go through. Un-cule-istic optimism 🙂

  68. HisR0yalFlyness
    February 20, 2013

    Year after year they take notes and upgrade the bus. Yet when we face it we come with the same gameplan. When is it gonna end?

    • Rivaldo
      February 20, 2013

      Interesting viewpoint. It sure does seem that way to observers.

      I always say if it happens once (maybe a few times) you are unlucky; if it happens often enough it is all at you.

  69. Rivaldo
    February 20, 2013

    I laughed to myself thinking this is what we get for debating Messi the whole week and nothing toward Milan and tactics best suited, etc.

    Messi’s “haters” can come out for sure now. He deserves it in this one. But so do many others. Team loss.

    “Join us in the next couple of weeks to find whether this season will be a bust or not. The drama in the off-season might be a lot more than expected if we do (maybe coaching staff and all). Who knows? As has been noted cules like to over-react. Same teams, different stadium, same channel.”

    • If we go out(Which 99% we will), Alexis will be the first casuality. When he was signed I did say that it was a high risk transfer especially for the combined price.

      • KEVINO17
        February 20, 2013

        How an earth can you blame this on Alexis. He only played the last 25 minutes?

  70. rocherto
    February 20, 2013

    Its gonna be tough on the return cause we have a hard couple of weeks ahead. Here is hoping we man up with a good rotation.

  71. sd
    February 20, 2013

    Barcelona are going to destroy Milan in the Camp Nou. Barcelona have never turned around a 2-0 deficit but this will be the first time.

  72. mohit
    February 20, 2013

    A point I raised after the last match against Granada – I agree that our playing style is such that we are going to concede a goal every match. Clean sheets are going to be rare. But then, doesn’t that put a lot of pressure on us? It becomes almost necessary for us to score the first goal. If we concede first, then it is highly likely that teams will start parking buses and planes. Especially in high profile Champions League matches or finals. Conceding first also opens us up to more counter attacks.

  73. February 20, 2013

    Should I still not be worried about this match? As I said earlier, Milan have the very things that can trouble us. It’s the Chelsea blueprint: Give them possession, don’t let them in the box, mark Messi heavily and look for the counter. And it worked. Well played. Now we see if they can survive in our house in three weeks’ time.

    I’m not talking any of that “remuntada” stuff, either. I’m talking about the best club in the world playing like it, and kicking their asses in our house, in front of our fans.

    There will be analysis and all that stuff, and chatter about what did or didn’t happen. But let’s not forget that simple fact. If the best damn club in the world plays like it in three weeks time, we’re advancing. If it doesn’t, congratulate the victors and move on.

    • rocherto
      February 20, 2013

      Must agree with you kxevin.
      If we play like the best club we are in, otherwise… congrats

    • TITO
      February 20, 2013

      Why the best club in the world has to wait for three weeks to play like it knows in order to win? That was something they had to do it this game.

  74. jordi™
    February 20, 2013

    When xavi was in that ocean of space he could have taken a shot. Abbiati is a shot spiller, you never know what rebounds might happen.It Encapsulates our entire game today, we didn’t penetrate their box once. We have had some shockers away from home in the cl over the years but this might be hard to top for the sheer sterility of our play. Not just reputation wise, but financially it will be a sizable hit if we go out in the round of 16. Something that didnt happen since that Liverpool game. Its funny how we can transpose any fail year and its the same, 2007 or 2012 or 2013. Average side with decent discipline and physically tough players and we wonder why the dont part the defense for us like moses. The worse part is we have to wait 3 weeks for a rematch. Im serious when I say we might fate to help out with a combination of sending offs penalties and important players missing through injury. One goal by them and we need three more. Hopefully there is a volcano that interrupts their plane trip and they have to take the bus. One thing is certain, we never lost to a team with worse hairstyles.

    • Ryan
      February 20, 2013

      1 goal by them and we’ll need 4!

  75. BA
    February 20, 2013

    that was pathetic from Barça. as insipid a display as i’ve seen since Rijkaard’s can’t-be-bothered team of 07-08. Pedro anonymous, Messi ambivalent, Cesc pointless, Alexis lost. Xavi just coming back from injury wasn’t sharp. our faithful Iniesta was the only player on the pitch who can hold his head high after that performance.

    we lacked utterly any sort of tactical variation or new ideas when it was crystal clear our gameplan not only wasn’t working, but could not work against the way in which Milan were set up, and Roura simply isn’t a coach; there will not be another transfer from head to assistant manager next time. the longer Tito is out the more lackluster our play has been and the lack of direction is painfully clear. of course we cannot blame him for getting treatment, but not having a manager is affecting our play and, it appears, the motivation of the players.

    truly an awful performance, worse than the last time we played an Italian team in Milan… and we all know how that turned out.

  76. Jim
    February 20, 2013

    Hate to say it but on re watching I reckon on the second goal Xavi doesn’t track his man back and it is him who scores.

  77. February 20, 2013

    It’s like parked buses take them by surprise every damn year.. at least try some outside shots if nothing else works

  78. nia
    February 20, 2013

    I won’t argue the result coz, Milan played their game and executed it well. Barca were horrible and lacklustre. Not too sure of their selves. It was deserved and well done to Milan. However, it is a two legged tie and until the return leg, I still think we have a chance. arsenal almost did it last yr and were short one goal to overturn a 0-4 deficit. VAMOS BARCA!!! We can do it.

    Pointing fingers right now is not going to change the result.

  79. jordi™
    February 20, 2013

    Guys, this is three knock out games in a row away from home without an away goal. Milan last year, Chelsea, now Milan again. One of the reasons we reached so many semi finals and finals in recent times is the ability to score away from so that even a team scoring at Camp Nou first would not be a disaster. See the Arsenal Games a few years ago. If by some miracle we qualify, we have to get back to doing everything possible to score at least once when on our travels. Trying to take zero risks so we wont concede is counter productive when the team still scores (TWICE) anyway.

  80. Kimcelona
    February 20, 2013

    Started the two weeks from hell with a painful loss but I believe we’ll rise up and fight like the team we know they can be.

    And even if we don’t make it past the Rd of 16, would still be a great season for me, in the face of adversity.

    Not a good showing from any player tonight. I can’t really pinpoint what we were trying to do in the second half cause the players looked clueless. One of the worse performances I’ve seen in a while. No bad luck, just outplayed by Milan.

    I really hope this gives the players the real kick up the backside they need to continue competing in all competitions.

    • jordi™
      February 20, 2013

      Puyol was the exception. Gave everything defensively and almost scored with his head ripped open.

      • Kimcelona
        February 20, 2013

        Yes, you’re right. Puyi has tremendous heart.

  81. faizal
    February 20, 2013

    Very dissappointed performance by barca.No pressing, no urgency, no movement at all.

    Btw, i am new to this site. This is the first time i’ve posted but i always enjoy reading match review especially from kxevin and all the interesting disscussion made by cules around the worrld.

    Nice to meet you all!

    • February 20, 2013

      And you as well. Welcome to the world, and I only wish we were all clinking glasses and popping streamers to celebrate a match well played.

      • faizal
        February 20, 2013

        Thanks kxevin. Waiting for your next review.

        Just a little tought for this match. Our winger did nothing rather than pass the ball back to the midfield. They did’nt even try to beat their own marker. Supported by little movement from fab, our boys look veryyy static..do you have any idea about it?

        • February 20, 2013

          Bad match by the team. It happens, and will happen again. And Milan played their butts off. That will happen again, as well. We saw their best match. Now let’s see if they can handle OUR best match.

          As nzm put it, Fabregas/Xavi/Iniesta on the pitch mean too many chefs, and nobody to deliver the food. Messi is always going to be defended by at least 3 by a team with half a brain. The problem with Pedro was summed up in the pass that saw him in the box, faced with a defender. He passed it back to Xavi, and the attack (such as it was) reset.

          Teams are letting Alves play, because he has become an island on the right. He isn’t going to score the goal to beat you, so as long as you don’t let his crosses go anywhere, let him play as much as he wants. On the other side, Milan worked to keep the passing angles closed, and Alba wasn’t interacting at all with Iniesta because Milan overplayed him as they did Messi.

          It was a very intelligent game plan augmented by the wrong personnel, to my view. But I’m not the coach. Our coaching staff had to say to themselves (as I would have), “Let go with out best XI. If eleven of the best players in the world can’t score a goal or two against any team in the world, then something is wrong.”

  82. KEVINO17
    February 20, 2013

    Not enough pace and width – Cesc should never have played;
    Nobody ahead of Messi to provide some sort of focus from the play;
    Not enough attack from midfield, particularly when Barca were chasing an away goal. The Don always got forward to join the front line. But nobody else did. Sorry, but that was the time when Busquets had to step past his man and thread attacking passes. He was anonymous. Hopefully, Song will get a game in the return leg.
    Fortunately, this all means there is likely to be a big shake-up. It was a long time coming. Now it has to happen.

  83. 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!

  84. 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.

  85. 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.

  86. 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.

  87. 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.

  88. 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.

    • mohit
      February 20, 2013

      Guardian commenters having a field day!

  89. 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?”

  90. 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? 😛

          • 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.

    • 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 😛

  91. 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.

  92. 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.

  93. 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!

  94. 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…???

  95. 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!

  96. 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.

        • 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

  97. 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.

  98. 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.

  99. 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.

  100. 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.

  101. 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.

  102. mom4
    February 20, 2013

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

    He’s a nice (albeit misguided) guy.

  103. 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?

  104. 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.

  105. 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?

  106. 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.

  107. 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.

  108. 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.

  109. 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.

  110. 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.

  111. 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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