Categorized | Barcelona

Tactical Preview: Barcelona vs AC Milan Champions League Leg 2

The key to figuring out what changes Barça needs to make today starts with understanding how AC Milan defended in leg 1.  And in my judgement that analysis begins with the following:  AC Milan did not “park the bus” in leg 1.  Unless Allegri takes a much more conservative approach, if you go about planning for this match believing the problem was that we couldn’t break a parked bus you’ll come up with the wrong solution.

“Parking the bus” is an imprecise term and it can mean different things to different people. So what I mean by this is a team that stations their block deep, stays very compact, and looks to absorb pressure.

Milan were highly organized & disciplined but they didn’t consistently play their block deep – instead they varied their block depending on what phase of attack Barça were in. Most often they played a mid block with a relatively high backline.  The purpose of this tactic was to disrupt the fluency of Barça’s build up play and slow it’s tempo by staying compact and pressuring in midfield

1 Milan back line high vs barca GK Thwarting Play out of back

The image above shows how Milan often positioned their block for much of the match when Barçawere trying to build play.  Notice how high the Milan backline is playing.  They are looking to squeeze Barcelona into it’s own half. To force Barcelona to possess the ball far away from the attacking third.

2 Milan High When Barca Trying to Build otu of back


Here’s a close up of Milan’s approach.  Notice how high Milan are playing but also notice how they aren’t running at Busquets. Instead they are willing to concede the ball to him.  Their focus isn’t to necessarily to press to dispossess the ball but to create a compact block which prevents Barça from passing out from the back as they are most comfortable doing.  And notice how there are very few clear passing lanes for Busquets to utilize.  In turn, Barça’s tempo in build up play fell off drastically and rhythm never developed.

2B Milan Block Transition Phase-Backline Pushes Up Doesn't Stay Deep

The image above is typical of how Milan oriented their defense in midfield in leg 1.   Barça have advanced the ball to midfield and in turn Milan have adjusted their defensive block.  While the block is deeper notice how high up the Milan backline remains.  Allegri’s focus in leg 1 was to make sure his team stayed compact in order to create a dense net in midfield Barça would have struggle penetrating by playing short passes on the ground.

3 Milan Very Narrow Ambrosini Between those narrow lines

Here Milan are defending during one of Barça’s infrequent breaks in transition effect.  Their block has organized itself deeper on the pitch. But again notice where the backline is. Even with the Barça pressure in attack, the backline hasn’t dropped deep into their own box. Instead they are focused on staying compact and preventing further penetration.

In this vein, ACM was explicitly not looking to absorb pressure. In fact they were looking to do the opposite-prevent pressure from forming.  This is why they generally played a mid defensive block rather than a low block.  Their goal was to create a compact barrier in midfield, one they could pressure the Barça midfielders through.  The ACM backline has been better more recently but overall they haven’t been a great strength this season.. Not nearly up to the usual quality we expect from a Milan backline.  So what Allegri was doing in Leg 1 was to focus his defense in his midfield line to screen the backline.

This is very well summarized in the heat map below:

heat map Barca AC Milan 2-0 Barca 11 touches in box

Heat Map Barcelona vs AC Milan Leg 1: Barca Produce Only 11 Touches in the AC Milan Box (Arrow Shows Direction Barca is Attacking)

What’s striking about this image is how little penetration Barça achieved.  Barça had 11 touches in the ACM box last match.  You aren’t likely to get 11 touches in the box vs a defense that “parks the bus” as it’s conventionally thought of.  The “parked bus defense” seeks to absorb pressure in the final third and penetration into the box will happen as the backline falls deep in reaction to the ball.

The vast majority of Barcelona’s possession took place in a relatively narrow band in midfield – much of which was in Barca’s own half.  This distribution of possession again isn’t consistent with a “parked bus” defense.  Instead the Milan’s compact mid block with pressure in midfield, in effect, made the pitch became very “small” functionally  as play was confined to a narrow segment of the pitch.  That narrow segment contained most of the 20 outfield players on both sides and the ball.  This in essence was the tactical victory Allegri engineered in leg 1.  This is what Barcelona must change today.

By staying compact and playing a mid block Allegri was able to prevent his backline from having to absorb pressure.  Instead the focus on the team defense became the midfield line of 5 in the 4-5-1 rather than the back 4.  The key figure in this was Ambrosini who almost played a “free” role in defense occupying space between the lines and pressuring based on his reading of the move.

How Should Barcelona Adjust?

It’s possible that Allegri will change his approach to how he defends and utilize a more conservative system where his block is positioned deeper.  But this would be a mistake.  His approach in the first leg worked superbly and changing it would be ill advised, at least until Barça can prove that they can generate solutions.

The main adjustment Barça needs to make is to stretch the pitch vertically to open up the Milan backline and use the ball to create penetration.  Milan will look to create a compact barrier in midfield to prevent Barça from playing in the final third.  Barça need to use movement off the ball to prevent Milan from staying compact and create vertical thrust.  In leg 1 the open space on the pitch was often behind the Milan backline-not in midfield.  Yet Barça insisted on trying to play the ball exactly where there was the least amount of space.  In turn Barça did the opposite of what tiki-taka is designed to do:  they made the pitch functionally “small” and thus easier for Milan to defend.

Players must run at the Milan backline rather than only dropping deep to support circulation of the ball.  Those runs need to be directly vertical – but also diagonal.  This requires Barça players to get away from their preference to have the ball played to feet.  Instead they need to be able to make dynamic runs and play balls focused on open space.

4 Messi Drops Mexes Follows Him Not Worried About Run Behind

The shot above summarizes what Barça needs to change in today’s match.  Messi drops deep into midfield.  Mexes tracks him even though it means he’s left a channel open in the Milan backline.  Both Fabregas and Iniesta are deep in midfield looking to support circulation.  Neither looks to exploit open space as they are focused on providing outlets for Messi to pass back to in midfield.  Pedro stops as the ball is played backwards and doesn’t reinitiate his run.

Over and over what the opposition does vs Barça isn’t even to pressure the ball. Instead they through press where pressure is applied to the player who is receiving the ball.  So many of the Barça players prefer the ball played to feet that the defense can “guess” with high probability who may receive a pass.  This is what’s being done to Messi in particular.  He needs to adjust.  Rather than turning himself into a midfielder as he drops he needs to play against the Milan backline and create penetrating runs.  But he himself isn’t enough.  There must be other players who make those runs to open space for him to play through.

Barça needs to have an attacker in front of Messi who can occupy the CBs and prevent a player like Mexes defending Messi as aggressively as he did in leg 1.  But that player also can’t only act as a conventional striker.  A “fox in the box” type striker or a “target man” or a striker who prefers the ball played to feet: none are optimal for situations where you’re primary problem is getting penetration into the final third.  If you can’t even get into that attacking third, if you can’t even get the ball into the box then those striker skill sets won’t be productively used.

Barça needs to score today.  But first and foremost they need to create penetration.  That’s the proximal end point for the attack today.  Create penetration and force Milan’s block to open up, to lose it’s compact shape, to play deeper than Allegri wants them to.  In way what Barça’s immediate goal should be today is to turn Milan into a team that is “parking the bus.”

Adjustments in Formation:  Some Brief Thoughts

Barca will need to balance this attacking thrust by enhancing their transition defense.  Too often playing two attacking FBs has left them in poor position to defend in transition.  This has particularly been the case due to Alba’s positioning – he assumes extremely high positions even when the attack in being run through Alves.  Too often this leaves Barca with only two defenders deep and Busquets in a difficult position as he had to decide whether to pressure or drop deep with no room for error.

For these reasons I think the best way to balance attack and transition defense is to play three at the back in a 3-3–3-1/3-3-4 type arrangement.

Three at the back will give Barca an additional defender deep and will actually enhance solidity compared to their more recent play with Alba/Alves.  I’d use Puyol at LB or alternatively Adriano in the back 3 positioned conservatively.  I’d use Mascherano at R CB to play up against El Shaarawy, who will likely be the Milan player whom through their counter will be directed.  Pique as the central defender.  This back three will allow Alves a free role on the R flank to play as a modified winger while still having support from the R CB behind him to mark El Shaarawy.

Three at the back is also the best way to create width while also having a player act as a striker in front of Messi.

In attack-the need is for vertical movement, attacking runs against the Milan backline and a player who can act as a 9 in the final third to open up space for  Messi.  The player on the squad with the skill set most in line with these needs is Sanchez.  I would deploy him as he was used against Depor over the weekend – as a hybrid RW/9.  Playing with a significant deficit in confidence, Sanchez has had a troubling season in a number of respects.  Today, in the biggest match of the season, the team needs him.

LW is a difficult trade off.  If the L FB plays conservatively this means that the LW will need to provide tactical width. That’s a must.  Vertical runs vs the Milan backline is also a need.  For this Pedro is the best choice on the L.  But at the same time Barca needs goal scoring and that calls to mind Villa.  I would personally start the match with Pedro on the L and look to create penetration so that the Milan block is driven into it’s own third.  Once that happens Villa will he able to operate in the space where he’s most dangerous and I would look to bring him into the match if goals are needed.

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166 Responses to “Tactical Preview: Barcelona vs AC Milan Champions League Leg 2”

  1. Euler says:

    Got this post up late. Make sure to read Isaiah’s excellent preview of the match here:

  2. mom4 says:

    Nice tactical preview, Euler.

    All I know is if Cesc is announced in this lineup I will start throwing things. That would be awkward as I’ll be at work at the time.

  3. replayed says:

    Balls over the top.

    That is all.

    • Euler says:

      That’s certainly one weapon that needs to be used. But Barca actually have a number of different ways they can break this block in terms of passing.

      For example, when Messi drops deep and the CB tracks him it opens up very dangerous diagonals.

      The main adjustment that needs to be made-the Barca players cannot keep looking to play ball to feet. They have to look to make runs and run onto balls played into space.

    • This. Also longer through balls between CB & FB.

  4. Jafri says:

    Messi, and the kind of play he is capable of unleashing on the opponents. Great video by Allas, and the best music you’ll probably hear today (Viva La Vida!)


  5. flyzowee says:

    Mr. Roura says that if there is a need to revolutionize the game then Barca will do that. I don’t even know what that means but anyways. Go Barca!

  6. Art is a blast says:

    Wasn’t our pressing in 1st leg kind of hapazard? 1-2’s and triangles and the ball is past our backline. Gave away too many fouls

  7. Kxevin says:

    ACK!! From the Twitters (usually reliable PedrithoFCB:

    Tito vuelve a Barcelona el próximo 25-Marzo, regresa para el partido de Liga contra el Celta (30-Marzo). Gran noticia, vuelve el mister.

    Our coach is coming home soon!

  8. providence says:

    Puyol is out of the tie w/ knee discomfort

  9. Gogah says:

    While tactics will no doubt be important, the personnel employed will make the most difference in this game in my mind. Last game, not only did we go unprepared, unmotivated we also chose the most un imaginative lineup. That last game was screaming for a vertical player like Alexis Sanchez. I agree with most of the content in this article, playing 3 lines of 3 plus one, running at players, etc., but in order for these guidelines to be executed we must put out the right players.
    More importantly we need to keep up a constant feeling of imminent danger. Dangerous players like Adriano, sanchez should definitely get some time.

  10. Archie says:

    Trying to understand Euler:


  11. Kxevin says:

    Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro, Villa and Messi

    • Hilal says:

      Cant say i am too happy with that lineup. Why start Xavi when he barely got the green light less than 24 hours ago when we have Fabergas and Thiago. How is Alexis not starting after the game he had at the weekend? He should start ahead of Pedro or Villa, take your pick. Adriano should be playing instead of Alba considering we cannot concede a goal.

      Well at least they havent tried to force Fabergas into the squad. Doesnt seem like management have learned too much over the past few weeks.

      Fuck it though… I BELIEVE!!! Come on Barca!

  12. Barcelona line-up (official): Valdes – Alves Pique Mascherano Alba – Xavi Busquets Iniesta – Pedro Messi Villa

    That’s look like a straight forward 4-3-3 formation with a false 9. Brilliant get ready for a lot of boring passes.

  13. TITO says:

    So no Puyol, no Adriano, no Alexis.

    Shouldn’t there be a revolution today? I see the same line-up over and over again. No Cesc though.

  14. flyzowee says:

    It is true that the false 9 refuses to die but lets hope that collective brilliance is enough to overcome any tactical flaws tonight. Believe.

  15. TITO says:

    I hate it, i hate it. when we are predictable as the snow this winter.
    When, just when we are going to be less predictable????

  16. So basically Villa will start on the left, Messi false-9 and Pedro on right. Brilliant tactical innovation. I am having enough. Is Tito knowingly screwing the team.

  17. Gogah says:

    What is with the blatant reluctance to play the guys that are hot right now…Spanish favoritism?

  18. replayed says:

    I wouldn’t call this lineup predictable.

    For one thing, this is the first genuinely significant match David Villa has started all season for the team.

    As a huge fan of the alba-iniesta-villa left side and what it did against Celta de Vigo, I’m guardedly optimistic.

    • Euler says:

      I hope you’re right. But Celta de Vigo was a long time ago and teams have adjusted.

      And more importantly-Celta played a deep block. That put Villa & Pedro close to goal and allowed them to operate in the final third.

      If Milan play like they did in leg 1 Villa and Pedro will be 40m from goal. Villa’s skills in the final third may not even come into play as Barca may not create enough penetration to do so.

      What’s clear-once again the match is going to depend on Messi dominating multiple phases of this game.

  19. Euler says:

    Perhaps this was driven by injuries-Puyol is out and with Adriano you never know-but this line up, to me, is problematic.

    There’s no clear source of vertical stretch on the front line other than Messi. Alba’s positioning has damaged the team’s transition defense on the L flank over and over. Today he’ll be up against Niang or Boateng-both of whom gave him fits in Leg 1.

    Barca’s best chance today may come if Allegri does in fact play conservative and station his block deep and “park the bus”

    That the defense this barca line up is more suited to face than the one Milan used in leg 1.

  20. TITO says:

    This is fear. I smell fear, fear of trying something new, extraordinary and little bit more adventurous. This is just play safe, and if we are lucky, we’ll go through.
    I still believe that we can do it, cause we are much more better than them, as a team and as individual players, but i was really hoping for a different line-up.

  21. KEVINO17 says:

    It’s quite possible that this formation will be used as a 3-3-4, with Pedro and Alves going in behind if Milan play a high line. Surely Masc has been given the job of marking El Shawari, rather than Alves. It could be very attacking. Depends how we play.

  22. KEVINO17 says:

    Can’t believe this will be a false nine. Surely Villa will be playing in the middle with Pedro on the left?

  23. Archie says:

    Uh. Alba stays back, at least he’s fast. Villa stays in middle with Messi and Pedro behind. Alba (contradiction) and Alves attack wings. Bousquets plays defense. Masch chases ElSharawy. Pique doesn’t stride forward. Xavi receives the ball from kick-off and doesn’t give it back until Barca 4-0 Milan?

  24. Barca_Donut says:

    It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here. I was checking though my phone the other day and stumbled on a quote from Pep, don’t 100% know how it got there, but it sums up how I feel.

    “I’ve learned what it means to win and to celebrate it with moderation. I’ve learned what it means to lose and that defeat really is painful – but losing is what helps you get up and appreciate how hard it is to win. I have learned that accusations and excuses are useless. When you lose it is your responsibility and when things don’t go as you planned, it is also your responsibility. This sport and Barca have given me this.” – Pep Guardiola, September 2011

    I don’t know whether we’re going to win or lose tonight. If we win, it will be incredible. If we lose, it will be painful. But if Barca play like their lives depend on it, I will support them as if my life depended on it.

    I wouldn’t have it any other way. Som un equip! Visca Barca!!!

  25. Blau-Grenade says:

    What a strike!!!!

  26. elacule says:

    i’m watching with the sound off. still tense as heck, but what? barca just scored!!! yay!@

  27. Blau-Grenade says:

    One goal down. Three more to go!!!!

  28. Doug says:

    Wow – what am awesome shot by Messi. We’re going to need a few more.

  29. Doug says:

    Definitely should have been a penalty

  30. Blau-Grenade says:

    Glad Xavi and Iniesta are taking shots from outside the box.

  31. Blau-Grenade says:

    2 2 Game on!!!!

  32. HisR0yalFlyness says:

    Defense still giving some scares but this is the Barca we know!!! 2 more in the next half and we in a gear.

  33. Archie says:

    Fox Soccer 2go just showed the first goal from every angle about 40 times!

  34. ilie says:

    Alba has to control his urge and stay back, he was caught up a couple of times they almost score.

    Otherwise we are playing very well.. Visca Barca!!!

  35. ilie says:

    *and they almost scored

  36. Just putting this out there before what happens in the match effects my thoughts:

    Main point We should keep pursuing Tito’s plan of making Barca faster and more direct. Punish counters with our own. Secondly stop trying to have 8 damn midfielders. Has far too many ups & downs. Diversity rather than excess of 1 thing. It’s what got us the best season ever BTW. STOP deferring

    1. We are finally ready to take in a proper finisher/nine now that we can/need to put someone in front of Messi.
    A finisher who takes lot of shots, doesn’t defer to Messi, co-ordinate attacks with him but takes his own chances. A guy who can hold play/the ball with his back to the goal.
    Or we’ll probably get Neymar. That can kinda work out too.

    2. No more balanced 4-3-3. Our default template needs to become lopsided again so we can make best use of our players now rather than fit them in with what suited players 4 years ago.

    3. Is it just me or have we stopped making diagonal runs towards the goal, targeting the space between FB & CB. Infact our runs into space to reach a through ball have become quite limited. Bring this back. It should be our main weapon.

    4. Also anyone remember when our forwards used to interchange frequently? We need more interchange, make movement more dynamic. 4 principal attacking players should switch positions easily.

    5. The 9 + Messi + 2 attacking FBs = double pivot. That or atleast the fullbacks have to be WAY more coordinated.

    6. Can somebody teach Barca to defend the far post. I haven’t seen them do it since 2003. How can we not do something so basic for 8 years?

    ^this is what makes us suffer alot in corners and those switch-flank attacks. Our permanent weakness.

    It’s time to get back to more basics rather than going forward in the same direction. Focus more on what we don’t do well before improving our biggest strengths. Much bigger return from that.

  37. Apologies for doubting the tactic. Finallly the Management reacted and we saw the real Barca. What a half. The tactic was perfect with Villa in front of Messi and Alves playing as a winger on right. Only thing which is yet to click is Alves cross.

    But Alba is a worry it’s better to have Adriano, he is also quick. And one more thing can we have Puyol for Mascherano. That mistake almost cost us.

  38. Artur says:

    As soon as we find some breathing space for Messi we dominate as per usual. Stunning great performance by our team.

    David Villa occupying 2 centre halfs in the centre, Dani assaulting the right flank and Iniesta destroying the left flank. Gives Milan something to think about and half a second for Messi. All the time that he needs to slot the ball in the back of the net. Best finisher on the planet.


  39. On the match: MESSI and busquets great but whole team pressuring well. Dani’s crosses negated by our height. We need to take more shots from afar. Messi should stop dropping so deep.

    We NEED to keep up the tempo, slowed down in the end there. Not okay.

    Alexis and Tello both at the 60th? Would so love that. Alba needs to stay back and defend, his side not being used for attack much.

  40. KEVINO17 says:

    Listening to Zeljko Kalac (former AC Milan keeper) say the shove on Pedro was definitely a penalty. That should have been the game right there. Too early I suppose, because the ref knew it was a red card as well.

  41. barca96 says:

    They actually for some reason slowed down after Iniesta’s volley. Hopefully they will put some intensity in the 2nd half.

  42. barca96 says:

    Villa should come off for Alexis.

  43. Blau-Grenade says:


  44. KEVINO17 says:

    With his left foot!!

  45. Blau-Grenade says:

    Three down. One more goal to go!!!

  46. nia says:

    H all, I made it back just in time. Good game eh? We need one more goal, just in case ;)

  47. KEVINO17 says:

    We need subs

  48. barca96 says:

    Alexis in for Villa.
    Song in for Pedro.
    We need stability and more players who can hold the ball.

  49. nia says:

    nervy time these. Heart is pumping at a 1000 beats per min

  50. KEVINO17 says:

    Milan skills degrading

  51. I am crying, may have a heart attack.

  52. nia says:

    Barca, Barca, BARCAAAAA!!!!!

  53. Blau-Grenade says:

    Four goals finally! I expected Barca to score 4 goals… and they did!

  54. pr17 says:

    same here. i am crying

  55. simple_barcafan says:




  57. Kxevin says:

    Like I said. I did get the final score wrong though.

  58. jordi™ says:

    Im actually in tears :’). This group deserved a historic comeback.

  59. Hilal says:

    God i love this team!

  60. jordi™ says:

    Robinho the legend. Tells the Milan players to get forward. Plays sideways pass to no one :lol:

  61. TITO says:

    That was the worst performance of the season, no doubt. It should have been 8.

  62. pr17 says:

    villa, alba and most importantly masch. great performances.

  63. TITO says:

    Gallata made it too!!!!
    That’s our next opponent.

  64. F**cking Balottelli, Can you see Messi now on the pitch.

  65. Messiah10 says:

    Man we came out to play today! Pressing like nobodies business and Our Midfield was simply sensational! I love this team so much! We were a little shaky in the back, but boy what a joy to watch! God I love this team, this club, this feeling! Visca Barca! Visca Barca!

  66. Tarik says:

    Pretty sure I’m the only person in Istanbul who stopped watching the Galatasaray match to focus on the Barcelona match. Chaos outside. I am going to pretend they’re cheering for Barca also.

  67. deckardcain says:

    I’m so happy right now I could run naked through town. What an unbelievable game, what an extraordinary team. Messi steps up when we need him the most, sensational.

    Only thing that had me rattled all game was why they still insisted on pushing Alba so far up the pitch, I almost had three heartattacks when Abbate sprinted past him a couple of times.

    But still:

  68. KEVINO17 says:

    Biggest tactical change today was that Allegri was forced to drop his groundsman.

  69. TITO says:

    Ok, hamburgers on me!

  70. El deu says:

    Damn, that was good. Remuntada!!

  71. KEVINO17 says:

    AC Milan defence was not technically very good and they had never experienced Barca-style pressing. They didn’t have a clue.

  72. DumbOx says:

    Kxevin!!!! You’re prediction (4-1) was (almost)correct!!! 4-0, you couldn’t have willed an even better result! Visca Barca!!

  73. Gogah says:

    Messi was a beast in every area of the pitch. Good things happen when Messi defends. What a night!

  74. replayed says:


  75. faizal says:

    You are right kxevin..we are unstoppable when we play like the best team in the world

  76. Guys forgot it’s a 4-0. Ok it’s not a final. But with 2-0 they though they had one leg in the quarters. We hurled them back out. This 4-0 also would hurt as much as the 94 final. Finally the Golden Team gets the revenge for Dream team.

    • barca96 says:

      Found this great comment by jaktonat over at the Guardian.

      Milan came witha plan they said – As Mike
      Tyson said ” They all have a plan untill they
      get hit in the face ”

  77. Jim says:

    At last. We play a sensible formation and Villa repays us. Joy ! Great pressing and the midfield were brilliant. Couldn’t have done this without an amazing level of fitness though. Maybe the coaches judged it right and we’re coming into our physical peak.

    • barca96 says:

      Yeah they haven’t played like this in 2013. But the players used to be able to play like that for the whole match until last season. I wonder if there’s a change the training regimen. Even in this match they slowed down a lot in the 2nd part of the 1st half and likewise in the 2nd half.

  78. HisR0yalFlyness says:

    We need to see Villa in the starting lineup all the way to the final. This is the Barca we know. I love my team. When we play like we should its such a beautiful sight. VISCA EL BARCA!!!!!

  79. y2k156 says:

    It just clicked. I went in pessimistic but we were simply superb today. Really special victory this! Visca barca.

  80. zashaw says:

    Euler, thanks for this tactical preview! I really felt I understood this game much better than I normally do, especially in the first half, thanks you your write-up. And I’m also very happy with the result, of course!

  81. Ryan says:

    We did even better than Kxevin’s 4-1 prediction! Visca!!

  82. Gogah says:

    I sat quietly, cautiously optimistic, nervous throughout the game. Only Alba’s goal made me explode. The grass’ effect on the game was so clear to see. The ball was moving well, reached our players faster and also got away from the opponent faster. Even when they tried to work a quick transition forward, the ball invariably was over hit and rolled away rather than come to a stop as would have been the case in a field with uncut and dry grass.
    But what a response from my team. Respect. Love.

  83. Jafri says:

    Gosh, I did not sit down for the entirety of the match. What a game. What a match by us.

    We. Are. Through.

  84. Barka says:

    I thought everything was over when Niang got the ball and raced towards Valdes. Luckily he didn’t score and Messi got the second goal a few minutes later.

    THis was a great game from us.

  85. psalmuel says:

    ever since pep left, we haven’t pressed like we did 2day,good to see new tactical tweats. Notice how villa and pedro’s presence occupied milan’s RB,RCB leaving messi with just The LB and the LCB, oboy! Messi is a genius! what a match! I lost my voice after going nuts over messi’s 2nd goal. And where is that writer on who wrote an article about messi failing to turn up against italian teams?

    • Ryan says:

      Folks just look for oddities in the stats to denigrate Messi. It has ranged from Messi not scoring on English teams, to later not scoring in England, or from open play, not showing up for Argentina, to not scoring against Italy teams. Let them scamper away and find an obscure feat that Messi hasn’t accomplished yet – he’ll do it eventually anyway!

  86. KEVINO17 says:

    I love the fact that Alves wasn’t afraid to cross the ball because:
    1. He knew there was a CF there (even if not a big one); and
    2. If Barca lost the ball we would be pressing like crazy to get it back. No problem swinging in crosses if you press like that.

  87. xavi_purrnandez says:

    MAGIC (said with RayRay’s intonation)! that game was easy on the eyes (if not on the heartrate). Visca el Barça :)

  88. icemel says:

    Screaming, pounding the floor with each goal.
    This is one to savor…whci on can do while waiting to get hectored here:

    A “swarm” is right. They made sweet honey with the ball at their feet; but the sting with which they pressed today is the story.

    Not sure I could have survived 4-1, but sure glad the team obviously read the rest of Kevin’s post…on second thought maybe they DID read the post and figured we’re going to get 4 we can spare one.


  89. KEVINO17 says:

    Fascinating to watch how much easier it was to circumvent the three-man midfield defence on a good pitch. Xavi, Busquets just fired bullets at Messi, Iniesta between the lines and they just trapped the ball in plenty of space. Suddenly, Allegri’s tactics (and his players) looked very pedestrian.

  90. culewifetoamadridista says:

    I love this team! I love you all! Never doubted this team. Visca Barcaaaaaa!

  91. Blau-Grenade says:

    barcastuff ‏@barcastuff
    Barcelona are the first team ever to turn around a 2-0 loss from the first leg in the Champions League knockout stage history #fcblive

    • endico says:

      I don’t think this is correct. Deportivo once overturned a 1-4 deficit against AC Milan by winning the second leg 4-0 in quarter finals the year Mourinho won the CL with Porto.

    • Jafri says:

      The complete stat was that no team has turned around a two goal deficit without having at least one goal in the first leg, so the 4-1 doesn’t count in this case.

  92. Eklavya says:

    I don’t want to see Iniesta on the wing ever again in my life.

  93. Sam M says:

    “Mine is a most peaceable disposition. My wishes are a humble cottage with a thatched roof, but a good bed, good food, the freshest milk and butter, flowers before my window, and a few fine trees before my door; and if God wants to make my happiness complete, he will grant me the joy of seeing some six or seven of my enemies hanging from those trees. Before their death I shall, moved in my heart, forgive them all the wrong they did me in their lifetime. One must, it is true, forgive one’s enemies–but not before they have been hanged.” -Sigmund Freud Civilization & Its Discontents

  94. cuqui says:

    Iniesta MOTM for me. Incredible defensive game and his assist to Leo was razor sharp.

    No other player in the world scores that first Messi goal. Blanketed by 5 players and he jackhammers it in.

    Been a long time since we’ve seen this intensity. Moving towards peaking later this spring. The plan is coming together.

  95. KEVINO17 says:

    Thought Busquets was excellent today. Sometimes he can be too conservative. But he kept pinging the ball forward through tight areas.

  96. sd says:

    Watch closely as the players celebrate. Mascherano comes running and jumps up, cramps and then comes running/leaping on one leg. Pretty ridiculous. Of course, I lost my shit when they scored too! Also people jumped out from the crowd.

  97. mom4 says:

    Just finished watching (DVRed/ had to work).

    We were pretty again!

  98. providence says:

    I nearly died wen it was 3-0. and Milan was still pressing. Jesus!!! dat Bojan ball across nearly killed me. …

  99. rocherto says:

    Joining the party late. Had to close my ears and eyes after working all day. Caught a flight home and turned on the dvr.
    This was another moment where I was down on my knees in the living room.
    So proud of these boys!!

  100. barca96 says:

    At times in the first half it looked like we played with 4 forwards.

    • Jafri says:

      I think this was a 3-4-3 with Messi at the tip of a 4 man midfield diamond, Villa in the middle and Pedro and Alves on the wings, transitioning to that elusive 3-5-2 with Pedro/Alves on the wings and Villa and Messi the two centre forwards.

      Of course with Barca being Barca, it was also amoeba amoeba amoeba :D

      • KEVINO17 says:

        Agree, and I like the slightly broken structure. The three at the back know they’ve got to defend (although Alba didn’t always get the message) and the other seven know they’ve got to go forward to shut down the play, instead of having two wing-backs who aren’t sure what they should be doing.

  101. cuqui says:

    Jordi Roura calls Messi “magisterial”! Who knew he listened to Ray Hudson! via @guardian

  102. Chiu says:

    - Unbelievable! We made it! One of the most historical comeback in CL history against 7th times European Champion; AC Milan.

    – The first half was just wow. Beautiful! This is the real Barca that awe the world and add up lots of bandwagoners hehe. The aggresive pressing, rapid ball circulation and the player movemeent was excellent. Early goal from Messi really calm the team and we took absolute control on the game. Milan almost have no considerable threat, except that Niang run. We just showed up when it needed for the most important game of this season, thus far

    – For the quarters, I hope and we must do the rotation again in liga and “sacrifice” the two liga matches before quarter to rest the first team. We have luxury to do that with comfy cushion over RM; which I think they implicitly already giving their liga hope. They must be focussing all the energy on CL as well.

    Visca Barca!

    • KEVINO17 says:

      Barca is now in a wonderful position. The “reserve” team is probably the 2/3rd best team in the world. No reason they can’t play in the league, particularly now we have a huge advantage in the league. Time to put Xavi, Iniesta in a cryogenic chamber for a couple of weeks.
      My only two worries from this game were:
      Pedro – didn’t seem to add much; and
      Masc. I love his passing, but he does jump in a lot.

      Would love to see Alba, Adriano operating together on the left wing. Both can go forward, both can defend.

  103. deckardcain says:

    I just love the way Pedro ignores celebrating the first goal and directly runs full-speed to the ball and rushes to the kick-off circle.

    The job isn’t done yet, let’s go.

  104. Vj says:

    I believed in this team, and my belief was not reduced by a defeat or three. These are the best players in the world even if their coach is physically so far away from them. If this doesn’t make people believe in and have faith in their players, I don’t know what will.

  105. K_legit in Oz says:

    Jordi Alba! What a beast!

    Mascherano has his limitations in the aerial game but his reading of play and crossfield passes are an absolute delight!

  106. Chiu says:

    - Our reaction to long ball pass from opposition should be taken into serious consideration for Tito,cs. Esp in the counter, our high line defense really got exposed. Exacerbated that we dont have height and speedy CB to recover or chase them. I realise this is the risk of the system like Barca. We play high line, and leave too much space between the last line and goalie. Am not sure what would be the solution. Am not blaming Masche either for that “isolated incident” of Niang run free; his height and anticipation to jump maybe a bit late or else. But that Milan chance almost cost us the expensive CL quater spot. I hope Tito could fix this soon.

    _ Villa in CF positioned really give Messi more space behind him. We saw the hesitation from Milan CB to move forward to heavy mark Messi because it would leave Villa in free space. Very good changes from Roura or Tito.Ini-Busi-Xavi also gave some lesson to Milan how to control the midfield; very crisp passing, movement and ball recovery (esp Busi)

    – The quarter final would offer many probability of big matches, even another classico. Lots of big teams ie Barca, Bayern, RM, Juve, Dortmund,PSG (big names). Just two “weaker teams” ie Galatasaray and Porto/Malaga (decided tonight). The likelihood we get draw a big team is high. Anyone hope for another classico? I personally dont mind for another classico :)Bayern, Juve and PSG are dominating their respective league. RM is recovering their top form gradually after lousy start. Dortmund not doing really good in Bundesliga, but the potential is still there. It would be an enjoyable quarter for neutrals. Just for pragmatic reason, Galatasaray or Porto/Malaga would be the best draw

    Visca Barca!

  107. endico says:

    We qualified that’s incredible but we need to put things into perspective before we become overjoyed now and be disappointed again later.
    AC Milan was not considered a favorite to win this competition. They had a lifeline because we were lazy in the first leg. Yesterday we were able to win because they defended but when they were behind they came out and caused us some trouble.
    My point is Barca is not the favorite anymore. We have one of the weakest back-line among the remaining teams in CL. RM, Bayern, Juventus and Dortmund won’t have much trouble with our defense but as a fan I hope am wrong.


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