Wednesday March 13 2013
Milan spun by Barca cyclone

Barcelona were at their brilliant best in dismantling Milan to overturn their Champions League first leg deficit. Luca Cetta writes.

Lionel Messi had confidence in Barcelona. “We know it is complicated by the result of the first leg, but we can turn it around. As they won, so can we. We are confident that we can overcome this.” Meanwhile, Milan were aware they had to frustrate their opponents for as long as possible to reach the quarter-finals. That went out the window after just five minutes. The Argentine wizard gave Christian Abbiati no chance with a sublime finish, halving the 2-0 San Siro deficit. By half-time Milan’s lead was wiped out thanks to that man again.

In between was a game played seemingly in fast-forward. The Rossoneri were pinned on the ropes, unable to land a blow while repeatedly taking heavy hits. Barcelona were relentless and pounded away. When Milan looked to land a punch Barca would unleash a quick jab to respond – on most occasions. Stephan El Shaarawy and glaringly, M’Baye Niang, had chances to snatch Milan a precious away goal. The 18-year-old hit the post when through on goal and 120 seconds later Messi was celebrating his second.

David Villa was quiet but netted the important third early in the second half. Important yes, but not quite a tie-winner. The Blaugrana had the aggregate advantage, but an away goal would change it all. The tie was not settled until the final minute when an awful Milan free-kick gave Messi the chance to launch a counter-attack. Jordi Alba slotted past Abbiati to send Milan crashing out.

Massimo Ambrosini claimed Milan were not up to task in the Camp Nou. “It’s the end of a dream,” said a crestfallen captain. “We were not up to it tonight. We suffered from the start and it wasn’t the performance we needed.”

When the draw was announced in December, Massimiliano Allegri’s side were all but written off. They had no chance in hell it was said. The reality was far different. Milan’s tactically astute first leg gave them a real shot at qualification. At times in the return the Rossoneri threatened to silence most of the 90,000 plus in attendance, Niang’s opportunity the most obvious. Even when three down Milan had fleeting moments to shock. It looked as if Barca may crack. But going forward they were simply devastating. Messi’s finishes were brilliant, Alba’s strike a fine conclusion for the Spanish side.

It was a gallant Milan throughout the 180 minutes, even if in the latter 90 they were outplayed. “This defeat is disappointing for the club, the fans and the lads, as they gave their all and hoped to achieve something remarkable,” said Allegri. “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.”

He did have one regret. “It’s a shame we tended to give Barcelona opportunities by failing to clear the ball properly.” Too often Milan were guilty of coughing up possession cheaply. It led to an abundance of pressure on the defence, and the second goal. In part this can be attributed to the host's pressing, but also Milan’s inexperienced squad were overawed by the occasion.

Could the Coach have done things differently? It’s easy to make judgments after the fact. He chose Kevin Constant over Mattia De Sciglio, Mathieu Flamini over Sulley Muntari, and was hampered by Giampaolo Pazzini’s absence, so went for youngster Niang in attack. Certainly they sat much deeper in this match and forgot what gave them the advantage in the first place.

“In order to play these games, you need legs and I made these choices. If Niang had scored, my choice would’ve been praised,” rebutted Allegri.

Just like their elimination at the same venue last season, Milan will look back with a tinge of regret. But they were up against a monster and that this Rossoneri outfit, which has been through so much this season, gave Barcelona such a fright must not be forgotten.

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Have your say...
Milan played little boys. No composure, no belief. Getting knocked out was to be expected regardless of the fortunate 2-0 ...but as they should have believed in themselves more. They missed the calm, level heads of Seedorf, Nesta, and even Zambrotta.

I've watched Milan for 20+years...and last night was total disappointment not for the result but for the performance...even compared to Milan-Roma (2002/3) when Brocchi was the most promising player on the field!!
on the 13th March, 2013 at 3:43pm
I really hope that Juve, in the 1/4 finals, come out of the traps quickly and play with the intensity that won them Serie A. I enjoyed their result vs Celtic, but not their performances. No disrespect to Celtic, but Juve should not allow a team like that to boss most of the games. On another day, Juve could of lost both those legs. Italian clubs must be proactive, rather than reactive. Like Sam said, lets get behind the Italian club.
on the 13th March, 2013 at 3:43pm
Milan had no game plan and played like they were waiting to get beaten. They didn't seem to know whether to attack or defend and ended up doing neither with any real commitment. They must have known Barcelona were going hit them hard from the kick-off, but the space they gave them, especially between the lines was suicidal. As a Juventus supporter I would not be too worried about facing Barcelona, as we have the tactical discipline and mental toughness to handle whatever they threw as us.
on the 13th March, 2013 at 3:38pm
It was definitely a different barca then the one that showed up at the san siro. If you go down to barca early things get bad fast, and you really cant blame anybody for messis brilliance. I am hopeful for this milan team and next year with balotelli I think we can definitly push into the quarterfinals!
on the 13th March, 2013 at 3:19pm
Milan were poor. He shouldn't have started with Niang, he is too raw and unproven for such an occasion. Some of the defending was unforgivable. Abbiati only made one actual save and even then he nearly let it in.
on the 13th March, 2013 at 2:23pm
It seems that Milan and Madrid beating Barca has woken them up!! Shame for Milan they didnt deserve anything last night, but in all fairnes to them who last night would have beaten Barca the spped of passing, pressing was Barca of last few years, Messi first goal.. Not tight enough?? . . Messi had 4 players around him!!Just one of the nights where your cant help but be a victim o the BARCA CYCLONE!
on the 13th March, 2013 at 2:10pm
milan had a few close opportunities. if milan had scored one, then we ALL would be singing a different tune. ...but unfortunately for milan it did not happen and as a result an excellent barca team qualified (deservingly). there is no reason to be bitter about anything. this is football, we all know and accept it. things could of gone differently, but it didn't.
on the 13th March, 2013 at 1:41pm
If Niang's shot was 2 inches the other side of the post then it would have been a goal and I think it would have been a different match and everyone would be congratulating Milan. Also please don't criticise the manager unless you can go out and do a better job yourself. He's done fantastic with the club losing half of its squad and spending no money other than Mario. So please don't criticise, things are always easier when you're sitting on the sofa.
on the 13th March, 2013 at 1:33pm
Bravo Milan Bravo!!! This Milan was supposedly dead after the first 7 matches and looking at relegation and losing half of its squad. Now they are 3rd in the league and fighting for 2nd, beat the best football team ever at home. Yes we lost to Barca at the nou camp but how many teams can do better when Barca want to kill you? Yes Niang should have scored but he's 18 or 19 and still young, bravo, it takes courage and heart to be in that position.
on the 13th March, 2013 at 1:26pm
I am Milan fan..very sad about last night result...nobody expected Milan to go through to next round when draw was made...but they given themselves chance by winning first match...but again in BIG games the approach was wrong...we can easily see from the face of Ambrosini.They were confidence at all.
And what happened to SES ..he had 2 chances on both occasion very weak shots...he needs to grow up now...develop other areas of his game.Hoping that players & coach will learn from this.
on the 13th March, 2013 at 1:23pm
I think this is purely allegri's tactical mistakes. When you have 2-0 home lead you just need to find 1 more away goal. The first 10 minutes was a disaster for Milan. Instead of lame "read the game first" strategy, what should they do was to attack in the first 10 minutes. We all knew that Barca will all out attack to find the net from the start, so why bother to read the game. Give them a shock!! Attack first 10 minutes then high pressure for 20 minutes then defense for 10 minutes, attack 5 mnt
on the 13th March, 2013 at 1:12pm
SES was very poor last night, unable to get into the game. I agree that abbiati, abate and monty where good. Barca are a strong team but better teams will destroy their defense, they are beatable. Its down to Juve and Lazio to fly the flag now. Juve have a great chance because they are hard to beat and strong at the back. It will be tough but Juve with Conte at the helm can win it. I believe. We need bayurn to get real and barca to get dortmund, or vice versa. Id be happy to get 1 of the other 3
on the 13th March, 2013 at 12:49pm
I probably am been a bit harsh. To be honest its the way both inter and milan lost that annoys me. I expect barca to knock milan out but its the way milan went out, barca are poor at the back and milan really should of exploited it last night. Allegri set them up all wrong. Inter have lots of injuries, but their performance against spurs was terrible, no passion they just werent bothered. Again I expected spurs to knock inter out but I expected at least some fight and effort from inter.
on the 13th March, 2013 at 12:42pm
With all due respect to Barca & the quality that they have, Milan gifted them last nights game. The praise that Allegri got for the first leg, he deserves all the blame for the second leg.
I was so hoping to see Milan knock Barca out!

They simply forgot what gave them the first leg victory. Muntari should have played & what were Ambrosini and Boateng thinking to slow down Milans attacks every time they had a chance to counter.

SES playing as a CB?

Milan deserved more last night!
on the 13th March, 2013 at 12:42pm
I think the main thing last night showed was how important it is to play the first game away from home! And that can only be done if you win the group something Allegri's Milan have never done! But don't be fooled this Barca arent as strong as they have been for the last few years.
on the 13th March, 2013 at 12:30pm
When it comes to Europe, I support all Italian clubs & last year the ref helped Barca but not this year, this time Milan were nothing but abysmal. I'm not even a Milan supporter but I was highly disappointed to say the least.

Where's Rosario O'Donald now ? What you have to say now ? Juventus are the only Italian team left in the champions league now...
on the 13th March, 2013 at 12:25pm
Ayoub, was it really a young side? The only youngsters were SES & Niang. As for SES, just to expand on my previous post...I want to see more from. When he isn't scoring, he contributes little to the approach play-I don't see him making telling dribbles, passes or crosses. He works hard, but I'd rather see more craft than graft. Allegri has to work on ball retention & passing in training, & Di Sciglio must now be the 1st choice LB.
on the 13th March, 2013 at 12:25pm
Sam, I think that calling Milan & Inter a joke is a bit harsh. They are still great clubs. Don't forget, that like Roma, they are in a transitional period. Even though I was very upset by Milan last night, I have to commend Allegri for the job that he has done so far. After losing so many players last summer, he has performed minor miracles, & I would say that Milan are ahead of schedule.
on the 13th March, 2013 at 12:15pm
Milan were very poor yesterday and hardly showed up. Most of the players were nervous and their inexperience clearly showed. I still cannot believe a liabilty like Kevin Constant wears a Milan jersey, honestly Milan should not sacrifice quality for mediocrity in their chosen path of building a new team. Milan should build with quality otherwise forget about winning the CL for a long time.
on the 13th March, 2013 at 12:07pm
Grande Milan!

Watched the game, it was 03:00 AM in GMT +7, and IMO its kind of meant to be, a young and fairly inexperienced side wearing heavy colors of AC Milan, without one of their best striker, facing a full team Barca in Camp Nou, as a fan of a rival team I really do want to have a laugh, but believe me when I say I felt pain in my chest watching the scoreline.

Here’s hoping for a stronger Milan in 13/14. (Raising glass)
on the 13th March, 2013 at 11:54am

Most of the blame has to go to the stupid Allegri ! I knew he'd ruined it. The trio midfield was the problem. It was CLEAR ! They exposed the defense and never created for the strikers.

What the hell was he thinking with Ambrosini & Flamini.

But hey, it's nothing new. Allegri always missed up the big games.
on the 13th March, 2013 at 11:52am
What the hell was robiniho thinking, its the 91st minute milan need a goal to go through everyone is in the box waiting for him to put the free kick in and he passes it short, barca win the ball and score the 4th goal. Ridiculous. Wrong choices all night milan, no thinking just nerves. Looks like just Juve and probably Lazio in the quarters of both cups. We need to all get behind both teams for the sake of our league. Milan and Inter are a joke, especially inter my god.
on the 13th March, 2013 at 10:36am
Milan not been able to calll on balotelli and pazzini was a big blow. Both would have finished Niang chance. I dont agree with all the praise for milan. They where poor last night, nervous and ineffective. Yes barca are a top team but they are very vunerable at the back and milan just didnt take advantage. Cant believe constant played abouve de sciglio, constant was out of his depth. Milan where poor, just not good enough. Although ref didnt help messi second goal was offside. Big call ref.
on the 13th March, 2013 at 10:33am
Barca were very good, but Milan's performance was very disappointing. Too many players didn't show up, & the quality of passing from them was awful. Allegri's approach was also poor. He should have set out to grab an early away goal, and demoralize Barca. Instead he just invited trouble on his team. Only Abbiati, Abate, & Monty came out of that game with any credit. I want to see more from SES. He needs to add extra depth to his game, otherwise he will soon be found out.
on the 13th March, 2013 at 10:28am
I feel for Milan 2nd season running they get Barca and almost do it! yes Barca played well but lets not forget Milan Had chances! and the 2nd goal was offside! the niang Miss and countless losing of the ball with weak passing! Di Sciglio should have played and Muntari too! they should have approached the game in a more aggressive fashion. Just sorry to see them go out would have been nice to see them there with Juve!

forza italia and fiorza Juve! they are flying the flag now!
on the 13th March, 2013 at 10:16am

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