Tuesday March 12 2013
Allegri: 'Centimetres for qualification'

Massimiliano Allegri defended his tactics and line-up after a 4-0 defeat to Barcelona. “Qualification was always going to be a matter of centimentres.”

The Rossoneri had a 2-0 first leg advantage, but M’Baye Niang hit the post and moments later Leo Messi completed his brace to wipe that out.

“Tonight Barcelona were extraordinary, especially in the first 30 minutes. Despite all that pressure, they had few real chances.

“In the first half we had a lot of problems emerging from our half, as they were pressing us and forcing errors,” said Allegri.

“Of course qualification was always going to be a matter of centimentres. We hit the upright with Niang, then conceded with Messi.

“This defeat is disappointing for the club, the fans and the lads, as they gave their all and hoped to achieve something remarkable. Tonight it was tough against this Barcelona, yet we kept it open to the end and when 3-0 down had some chances that could’ve gone better.

“This team needs to grow and had five players who were in their first Champions league campaign. It will be useful experience.

“On Sunday we have Palermo and our objective right now is to get back into the tournament next season. This game must help everyone to grow, we knew there were difficulties and it’s a shame.”

The Coach looked back at the first leg and the lucky ricochet that allowed Kevin-Prince Boateng to open the scoring.

“Luck was with us in the first leg with that deflection into Boateng’s path, this time it went against us with Niang hitting the upright.

“It’s only normal that this will now be painted as a disaster, but when you face a Barcelona side like this it’s very difficult. They knew they had to score at least three, so poured pressure on from the start.

“After 30 minutes we played better and they got a little tired, as they couldn’t keep that tempo up. Unfortunately, we came so close and did everything we could.

“Barcelona are the strongest side in the world. Messi and Iniesta kept dribbling with such cool heads in stoppages, Xavi was so sharp. I have to praise my lads for not giving up to the very end, as they could’ve let their heads drop.”

Barca surprised by picking David Villa in the starting XI, but it proved a masterstroke.

“David Villa’s position caused us a lot of problems. The passing was also so quick that we had to defend a little deeper. Despite it all, we had a great chance to get the away goal and even the equaliser. Against great champions, it’s always difficult to qualify, even after the first leg.

“It’s a shame we tended to give Barcelona opportunities by failing to clear the ball properly.”

Allegri was asked whether he regretted any of his decisions or would’ve made different ones.

“In order to play these games, you need legs and I made these choices. If Niang had scored, my choice would’ve been praised. We’re upset, but don’t have much time to even think about it, as on Sunday we face Palermo and our position in Serie A is the most important thing.”

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