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Friday March 30 2012
Levelling the field

Milan and Barcelona’s quarter-final is continuing to be contested away from the pitch. Rob Paton asks if that is a good or bad sign for the Rossoneri.

“To have 17 attempts at goal on a pitch like this carries much value. San Siro is very complicated, it doesn’t breathe, there’s no sun, it is always very bad, but that depends on those in charge. I imagine that Inter and Milan don’t play on a field like that,” offered Pep Guardiola in reaction to seeing his side fail to score for the first time in the Champions League for 28 months.

Catalan based Sport, who argued that Barcelona deserved the win and that the only downside to the draw was the failure to net an away goal, described San Siro’s turf as ‘a cross between an ice rink and a cabbage patch’.

Mundo Deportivo may have dedicated some words to suggesting Jonas Eriksson’s refereeing was favourable towards the home side, but they too cited the pitch as most influential to the 0-0 result. In ‘copying’ Valencia’s favoured tactic at Mestalla of not cutting or watering the grass before play, they wrote that the Italians intention was to restrict the ball’s movement during the game and in turn hinder Barca’s tika-taka style of penetration. The pitch was alright for the Rossoneri because, as the publication argued, they played football like Jose Maria Maguregui’s Espanyol of the 1980s, a side known in Spain for its ‘airborne style’: “The midfield didn’t exist, all were long balls to [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic.”

Dani Alves, who twice markedly fell foul of the turf - once playing the ball straight out of play, another time losing his footing - offered his own comparison: “The pitch was disastrous, impractical. It was a potato field.”

Beyond Alves’ spills, there were other examples of Barca’s disharmonious experience - Lionel Messi’s slip when taking a first-half free-kick stood out, whilst a misplaced pass from Xavi Hernandez led immediately to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s strong chance in the second half. Notably, Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol on more than one occasion struggled to move the ball from underneath their feet when put under pressure.

An official complaint from the club was handed in to UEFA, for which Milan hit back, suggesting that if it were a genuine problem, surely the players would have complained 24 hours before the game, when they first trained on the surface [pictured above].

Whilst a major issue in its own right or not, the attention the pitch has garnered post-match in Spain has meant that a side-point to the Blaugrana’s misgivings has become their performance on Wednesday night. They came up against an organised and determined Milan, whose Coach and his tactics made clever use of the components at his disposal.

Whilst the pitch contributed to the away side’s level of discomfort, it in itself was not the reason why Andres Iniesta was very quiet or that Messi could not weave a way through seven defenders or that the likes of Xavi had reverted in the final third of the game to taking shots from distance at uncharacteristically-non-Barcelona moments.

Guardiola came out with the line: “The best compliment is that Milan are happy with the result.” Perhaps the best compliment to Milan is that Barca are distinctly unhappy and, encouragingly, that the main reason why - being the Rossoneri’s performance - has generated the least discussion post-match.

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Have your say...
Super football match no goals but excitment. Milan defended but Barca certailny pushed. their passing is fantastic compared to the many many lost balls and wasted long passes by Milan

FORZA MILAN. rattle the barca net with goal upon goal. ROBINHO....dont you dare miss such oportunities again
on the 31st March, 2012 at 5:03pm
I believe a full strength fully fit milan would beat barca home and away!
on the 31st March, 2012 at 12:56pm
Great result for milan. The way barca fans and media speak is as if the grass was so long they couldn't see the goal. Bottom line barca are rattled, they are the beat team BUT is inter showed us 2years ago they are not invinsible, looking at the goals they have scored prior to milan points in the direction on the quality theyv been up against until milan! They catch quality and suddenly "the grass is to long, air was to thick, fans were to loud" fact is, milan made barca look like a 'nornal' team
on the 31st March, 2012 at 12:54pm
Before this game I was respecting Barca...but now I realize that when results don't go their way, they complain...

Remember they won 3-2 at same San Siro

The fact is even if the pitch was not good..it was not that bad either...Fact is Milan really defended very well...

Barca is so much vocal about this pitch issue because deep down they know they may get eliminated....they fear elimination..thats why they r starting to give reasons for it..

I just hope that Milan should go through next round
on the 31st March, 2012 at 6:50am
It is clear that Barca is scared by Milan! They have help from refs every time and i think that almost every neutral footbal fan hate them!What happen with chelsey,arsenal, real, inter in previus years? barca always had help form refs in those matchs! and complain about pitch? sad.....!
on the 31st March, 2012 at 2:16am
One thing that's interesting (and sad for us milanista), is that the criticism against barca's whining is only because they are held to such a ridiculously high standard. If novara made a complaint, no one would even notice. But somehow the "almighty" barca, are being petty for complaining. This really can be interpreted as an indictment against the bottom-shelf level if Italy's facilities.

Sad. I love serie A and I especially love my red devils.
on the 31st March, 2012 at 12:52am
Barca do so much right: they play great football, have a wonderful youth academy, are humble before games and are gracious winners. Sore losers though, and they don't like it when things don't go their way. Anyone else remember the sprinklers being turned on at the Nou Camp when Mourinho and his players were celebrating on the pitch after Inter beat them over two legs?
on the 30th March, 2012 at 11:59pm
from a Juve fan I think it will be 1-1 in Spain and you will go through. I think Milan is destine to win it this year. Milan though like Juve have improved and are rebulding. Neither side will hit the top for another 3 or 4 years. in certain years a team just has their name written on the trophy and I have a feeling Milan might this year. A the moment, I think Milan is behind, Bayern, Real & Barca in temrs of ability and cnosistency but that gap will be closed as I said in the next 3 or 4 years.
on the 30th March, 2012 at 10:20pm
I guess the pitch wasn't a problem when Barsa won in Milan 2-3 few months ago....
on the 30th March, 2012 at 9:58pm
You have to wonder at the mentality of the Barca team. Just because they couldn't break down what was a very disciplined performance from the Milan back line, they whinge and throw about excuses.

This from the very same Barca team who have in the past five years benefited from some extremely questionable decisions. A lot of their players should seriously consider movie careers if their histrionics on the pitch are anything to go by.
on the 30th March, 2012 at 9:29pm
Love seen these wingy b.......s humbled
on the 30th March, 2012 at 8:05pm
God forbid Milan get a positive result in Barca and go through. I'll really be anxious to see what excuses Pep and co including the media and the Barca fans will use. I'm sure it'll be just as comical as the pitch excuse which of course they won't be able to use. They might actually have to admit that they're capable of being beaten. The travesty!!!! Poor sports they are, all of them!
on the 30th March, 2012 at 6:56pm
Wow, Barca, their fans and press really are making a fool of themselves. I don't recall such a huge deal being made of the pitch when they won there a little while back. It's sad too because they're essentially saying that it was the pitch as the only reason they couldn't score. That's pretty ignorant! Suck it up, you were held scoreless, didn't win when you were playing half of Milan's squad. Bravo Milan. Barca should all whom are using this pathetic excuse should all be ashamed.
on the 30th March, 2012 at 6:51pm
funny when barca won 3-2 earlier in the season the pitch wasn't a problem. neither for juve when they won at the san siro and marselle when they knocked out inter. milan's players must have hoofs instead of feet because they had to run on the same ground. ac milan are the strongest team barca has faced in the last two years and after three games are proving to be barca's most difficult opponent. messi the greatest ever ? maradonna did it week in and week out against the best serie a defences
on the 30th March, 2012 at 4:55pm
enough complaining from the spaniards. at that level, every team and every player is playing against adversity. everything was agreed upon prior, and all was ok to go forward. if barcelona really wants to exemplify their dominance and better quality, then just turn around and win 1-0 or 2-0 at the nou camp. if that happens then everyone will shut up. but...what if barca ties 1-1 or loses 0-1 at home?! will it then still be milans fault?!!!
on the 30th March, 2012 at 4:46pm
common guys i see this resault amazing u know why?? simply becouse milan was rebuilding the team after 2007 last year u certnly dont think that after 4-5 years of not reaching last 8 we reach and then knock out barcelona with half our team missing?!! i think we're doing a hell of a job on top of the legue knoking out arsenal wich r in my opinion in CL stronger than City and Chelsea just give the couch and the team a couple of more years and we'll be favorates just like the old days!
on the 30th March, 2012 at 4:09pm
What an absolute joke!!!! Barca are so arrogant that when a game doesn't go their way they cry about it afterwards. Best chances of the Game fell to Milan. In my opinion, the ref was favouring Barca. Barca have got used to winning and now resort to disrespectful comments and make excuses. Didn't Milan play on the same Pitch Pep G. Milan executed their game plan to perfection. Tight marking, and limit Barca's rhythm.
on the 30th March, 2012 at 3:57pm
Can someone explain to me what Ambrosini got booked for? I've watched it over and over and still dont get it.
He was incredible in that tie- wore messi and co like a glove.
on the 30th March, 2012 at 3:00pm
Barca are a right bunch of girls they are no very gracious when they do not win. Even against inter they put the sprinklers on so Inter couldn't celebrate. But some of the quotes are quite funny like Milan's one tactic of long balls to Iba which is true. But to be fair you have use the defence tactic gainst Barca, try and play them at their own game and u end up like man ud in the previous final, getting dominated
on the 30th March, 2012 at 1:48pm
I’ve never heard anybody cry like they have. One excuse after another just like poor losers even did though they did not! AC Milan did not have the attack but had a great defense; however, Barcelona did not have the defense but had a great attack. It was an even game! Stop being big babies about it play the game. Barcelona are great team…just play game and beat them at home.
on the 30th March, 2012 at 1:23pm
Spanish teams are cry babies, we taught them a lesson
on the 30th March, 2012 at 1:17pm
It is pretty ridiculous the way Barcelona are acting after this game. Milan's convenient excuse of it being too humid to water the pitch was, well, convenient to say the least, but that is part and parcel of playing away in Europe...the term 'home advantage' doesn't just extend to the crowd.

And yes, Milan should be happy with the 0-0 in my opinion, considering half the squad is injured and no away goal was conceded, score draw takes us through...Forza Rossoneri per sempre!!!
on the 30th March, 2012 at 1:16pm
Kudos to Barca,they have done well to shift their poor performance to the pitch.The pitch had nothing to do with Iniesta's quiet night or Messi's inability to go pass Nesta or Alves' difficulty against Antonini...Antonini.
Pep should face fact,this is the most tactical,compact & determined side he has played in Europe.
Milan simply played to their strengths while they couldn't.FACT.
on the 30th March, 2012 at 12:07pm
Barca are so used to being the dolls of football that everyone loves, including Uefa and their refs (classic example of Xavi getting Ambro a yellow card after complaining), that they got to cry about it in this manor when they cant get results. At least Arsen Wenger when complaining about the pitch also said, Milan too played on same pitch and did well.

Pitch needs to change as it bad, but it wasn't the reason Barca couldn't get a result - all credit to Milan!

Forza Milan!
on the 30th March, 2012 at 11:48am

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