Thursday February 21 2013
Masterful Milan making waves

As Milan recorded an historic win over Barcelona, Alex Mott wonders if this is the start of something special for the Rossoneri?

Barcelona assistant boss Jordi Roura insisted on Tuesday that his side were not the favouritesMassimiliano Allegri, meanwhile, took time in his pre-match Press conference to declare: “My team will not be sacrificial lambs.”

Most fans may have thought that Milan would be the cattle to the Catalan’s Taser-rod, but the Coach didn’t believe so and neither did the players. Riccardo Montolivo spoke before the match of being ‘excited’ rather than over-awed, Kevin Prince-Boateng called for the San Siro to become a cauldron. Carles Puyol admitted that the Serie A side ‘would prove to be difficult’, Xavi Hernandez called them ‘trouble’.

The Blaugrana had failed to keep a clean sheet in their previous nine games. They had laboured to three points over Granada the previous weekend and struggled to draws against Valencia and Real Madrid. All the signs were there for Milan to pull a result out of the bag – and yet only the most fervent, or deluded, supporters actually thought they could get a positive result.

But on Wednesday night, at the Giuseppe Meazza, the impossible became two letters too long. A starting XI consisting of Sulley Muntari, Kevin Constant and Philippe Mexes defeated ‘the greatest side in history’. A team that just four months ago was being described as ‘the worst in a generation’ had out-muscled, out-thought and out-played the best in Europe.

It was a truly revelatory performance from Allegri’s men, and will surely go down as one of the best in the recent history of the club. Outstanding displays from Montolivo, Massimo Ambrosini and Giampaolo Pazzini were the icing on a cake which belonged to the whole team. Pressing from the front, the Spanish side had no answer to the vim, vigour and sheer persistence of the Diavolo.

Just over a year ago, in the same competition, against the same opponents, the Rossoneri lost their nerve in a 3-2 loss at San Siro. That side, which included Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alessandro Nesta, Thiago Silva and Clarence Seedorf, couldn’t produce the goods when it mattered. But 12 months on, with two forwards young enough to be sporting Mohicans, Milan 2.0 did what the earlier vintage couldn’t.

It wasn’t the most exciting of games – in fact the first half was nigh on dull – but the plan was laid out, and executed, to perfection. As Muntari said after the match: “We were very disciplined and managed to close every angle down so they couldn’t penetrate us. The best player for us tonight was Coach Allegri.”

The sight of Stephan El Shaarawy and Kevin-Prince Boateng tracking back, Montolivo and Ambrosini doing a job on Lionel Messi, Pazzini bullying Puyol and Gerard Pique – for all fans of calcio it was a genuine ‘told you so’ moment. The whole XI attacked and defended with intelligence – allowing the visitors just two shots on target all evening.

Of course, teams have beaten Barcelona in Europe before – Celtic in the group stages, Chelsea in last season’s semi-final. But not like this. The Scottish champions relied on pure luck and the genius of Fraser Forster. Roberto Di Matteo’s men had a missed Messi penalty to thank. Milan though, never looked like losing. The continent’s top-scorers didn’t even threaten to beat Christian Abbiati. The performance from the hosts was measured, astute and absolute right.

There’s still a second-leg to be played. And the Camp Nou is a fortress. But with a 2-0 lead and the confidence that comes with this win, the question is – how far can this young Milan team go?

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Have your say...
I am surprised that people still believe that is was a Mexes handball and it should have been a penalty. First of all, anyone who has ever played football knows that it was not intentional. Second: The Barca player was offside. Therefore, even if Mexes intentionally handled the ball or deflected it into his own goal, it does not matter. The first infringement was the offside.
on the 21st February, 2013 at 5:05pm
Good grief! What happened before my eyes last night I still have to pinch myself to believe! I can't help the tears of joy rolling down my cheeks as I type this!! FORZA MILAN! I don't mind what happens at Camp Nou, We gave them a hell of a game. I know the old sloppy defence can't cope with the fast, teasing counter-attacks. I DARE DREAM!! FORZA MILAN!!
on the 21st February, 2013 at 5:04pm
As a Juve fan - I am very proud of Milan. Great game, and El Shaawary is on the road to becoming a excellent player. Man of the match for me.
on the 21st February, 2013 at 5:02pm
@ Interista: Yeah, I'd be saying that too if I'd shot my mouth of like you did yesterday saying that Milan doesn't have the heart like Inter. Just keep quiet. You're embarassing yourself. But you are an Inter fan so you must be used to it. SHHHHHH!!!!
on the 21st February, 2013 at 4:51pm
Till now no blog to compliment juve victory. I thought its all about italy teams. They way milan play was similar to juve and yet juve get criticised.


was milan not park the bus? Haha what r u gonna say now? With 36% possesion compare juve 51% poss, and yet we juve fans congratulate milan victory.

What happened to barca???? Lol worst performance ever even celtic played better against juve. First half was the most boring match ive seen in champ league.

Forza juve. Forza italy
on the 21st February, 2013 at 4:45pm
Also, weren't you just a week ago declaring that Serie A was on the way down? The Italian championship will always be a strong one because it has the best coaches, and Italian players understand the game and have strong technique.
on the 21st February, 2013 at 4:05pm
I have had a feeling that this year going into the World Cup was going to be the death of the Spanish "tic-tac" possession snooze fest. I always have found it exhausting to watch Barca keep possession for hours and make not attempt at scoring a goal. Bravo Mister Allegri for a Dante Alighieri esque tactical masterpiece. What makes Serie A a beautiful league is the organization of the squads top to bottom. So I thank him for showing off to the rest of the world.
on the 21st February, 2013 at 4:01pm
I don't know how many fans were expecting this result, but I had the gut feeling that it could turn out ot be a performance reminiscent of the 1994 Champs League final. I was actually expecting a 3-1 win, but 2-0 actually seems better. The only thing I can be sorry about is that it wasn't 3-0. I hope Milan is able to score at least one goal at Camp Nou. Wouldn't it be great if we get a repeat of the 2003 Champs League final. Now that would send a clear message to everyone where calcio stands!
on the 21st February, 2013 at 3:59pm
Everybody must relax. Milan were tactically sound but please dont forget very "lucky". That hand ball non call was laughable period. A gift really. Also, it is far from over. But for the sake of co-efficients, lets hope all four bar napoli get through.
on the 21st February, 2013 at 3:57pm
Such a beautiful victory for calcio. All those pundits who have been declaring "tiki-taka" the ultimate evolution of the game are struggling to find excuses for how the "greatest team of all time" could have been beaten by some Italian team without established stars. What Italian teams have that Spanish teams don't is INTELLIGENCE. Milan were happy to let Barca beat themselves by passing around in circles and hit them on the counter. This is our calcio and it can beat anyone. GRAZIE MILAN!
on the 21st February, 2013 at 3:51pm
@Carlo Santarossa

Inter's 3-1 win over Barca in the 2010 semi final still tops this 2-0 AC win. Inter showed them how to play soccer"

Milan's second goal was proof enough of football for you?? Barca had 2 shots on goal. Brag about inters performance 3 years ago on another blog. This is about ACM performance yesterday.
on the 21st February, 2013 at 3:50pm
I have just come back to England after watching the match last night and I just want to say that I take this blog from Alex to be a way of saying sorry for suggesting Benitez to be the next manager. Please think first in first in future.

But about the match last night what can I cay..... FORZA MILAN
on the 21st February, 2013 at 3:46pm
how far can this team go is irrelevant in the short term. last night's result was an absolutely beautiful bonus during a tough season where development as a team is much more important than champions league progression. Milan need to finish in the top 3 in Serie A. not only to encourage investment and attracting better players, but to also enhance the ability of the players in the current squad. wonderful and deserved victory yes. But progression in the league is much more vital. keep going.
on the 21st February, 2013 at 3:01pm
Congratulations to Milan! You made us all proud last night!!
It goes to show that Italian football is not as bad off as some would have us believe.

I hope the second leg goes as well as the first one. However i can't shake the feeling that we didn't see the real Barca last night. Whatever happens in the second leg, whole of Italy should be proud of this performance.
on the 21st February, 2013 at 3:00pm
we are milan!
on the 21st February, 2013 at 2:53pm
Inter's 3-1 win over Barca in the 2010 semi final still tops this 2-0 AC win. Inter showed them how to play soccer
on the 21st February, 2013 at 2:36pm
Am very excited with the tactics of the coach and a good performance from the players hope we repeat such a things at camp nou milan go for wining.
on the 21st February, 2013 at 2:17pm
milan was great.
i can't believe the pepole who say barca was weak. barca was barca.

milan is back. this is real milan.
i always defended allegri and he proved that he is the right man for the job.
on the 21st February, 2013 at 2:16pm
I see Mexes is getting praise. I have to say he was a bit of a liability last night as usual. He put in the odd decent challenge but he needlessly got booked early on, he nearly gave a penalty away with a bizarre handball and he hit some really sloppy passes. He is probably the weakest part of the team at the moment (and one of the highest paid). We should sell him in the summer and bring back Astori. Still I'd have him in the team ahead of Bonera and Yepes!
on the 21st February, 2013 at 2:11pm
awesome game last night. i'm not even a milan fan, but in europe, i'm a huge calcio italiano fan. a well played game by milan!!! just brilliant, a well deserved victory by the rossoneri.
on the 21st February, 2013 at 2:11pm
Where's Interista.. Hey man do Milan have the same heart/fight as Inter now??? EAT IT!!!
on the 21st February, 2013 at 1:54pm
Ghana 2 - 0 Barcelona

Well done, the odds was against Milan but they pulled off an impressive victory. As I said in the other blog, the only way to beat Barca is by playing the Catenaccio system. Defend defend and catch them on the counter, that's how it works & I'm glad Allegri's tactics has paid off.

PS: Shame on you Alex Moth for suggesting Rafa Benitez to replace Max Allegri...
on the 21st February, 2013 at 1:39pm
Great win, superb spirit from Milan, both Juve & Milan are proof that Italian football can still challenge the best of what Europe has to offer even without the glamour boys of world football. In Milan's case any optimism could be easily wiped away with a defeat in the 2nd leg which is plausible but hopefully Milan can pull out the performance of a life time to get the result they need in Spain; the 2nd leg awaits & its in Barca where Milan really have to prove themselves.
on the 21st February, 2013 at 1:26pm
Perfect game from Milan last night. No real threat from Barca for 90 min, kept Messi quiet, Perfect absolutely Perfect, this is from a Juve fan.

on the 21st February, 2013 at 1:22pm
Well done Milan, great performance!
on the 21st February, 2013 at 12:56pm
Damn Sam, you more or less said exactly what I wanted to say. The only thing I have to say is; most of the Italian clubs are at the start of a new journey, with many young players being involved. So, last nights performance was ahead of schedule. In the next few years, as these young players develop, we, Serie A, are going to get a lot stronger. I am both very excited & optimistic about the future. Bravo Milan, & more of the same in 3 weeks please!
on the 21st February, 2013 at 12:25pm
I thought mexes also had a great game last night,goes to show what he can do when he concentrates for 90 minutes!
on the 21st February, 2013 at 12:11pm
As a Juventus fan I was most pleased with the win over Celtic last week.

I have to admit that while Milan's performance was similar in that it involved a well thought out game plan and all the players having the discipline to stick to it, it was even more impressive given the quality of their opponents, and was great for Italian football.

It's good to see Milan coming back to their proper level over recent weeks. There's no point in winning when you don't have good quality opposition!
on the 21st February, 2013 at 12:05pm
Good article; excellent performance and result for Milan - well done to the team and Allegri. As for Alex Mott, you actually wrote that Milan should hire Benitez! Unbelievable - even before this result.
Luckily for the tifosi, Milan showed their patience.
on the 21st February, 2013 at 11:58am
Inspiring article about an inspiring game. For a Milan fan who's been saying all season that this team deserves better, this is a moment of satisfaction.
on the 21st February, 2013 at 11:56am

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