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Barcelona 4-0 AC Milan recap
Tuesday night determined two more quarter finalists for the Champions League. One of whom was Barcelona as they swept aside AC Milan 4-0 (4-2 aggregate) at the Camp Nou in their round of 16 tie. Glancing on the scoreline, one would think that it was Barca’s brilliance that got them through, but it also had something to do with their opposition’s play.
Milan came into the match up 2-0 and flying high following their Serie A form where they’ve only lost twice since late October. The thought was that all they had to do was stay organized defensively, restrict the space for Lionel Messi to cut into, and counter with pace for goals. Sounds simple, but that’s what the Rossoneri did in the first leg and they failed to do that in the return encounter. Early on, manager Massimiliano Allegri had Stephan El Shaarawy drop back when defending to make two banks of four, something he utilized in February. However this time Barcelona were prepared, which is a testament as to how hard they researched tactics. Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets would sit deeper and let Xavi bomb forward. Then as the opposing midfield retreated, Iniesta and Busquets would advance forward and help out in attack. That’s how Busquets found space to pass with Xavi and Messi for the opening tally. In the second half, M’Baye Niang and Kevin Prince Boateng contributed at the back, but by then it was too late as David Villa made it 3-0 on 55 minutes. This is why Allegri should’ve started someone like Sulley Muntari, since his midfield was being outplayed and could’ve used some aid.
It was just the back line that struggled, though. The attack was equally disappointing. Countering and set pieces is what won the first leg for Milan, but there wasn’t any of that on Tuesday evening. Instead there was lackadaisical possession, which led to Barca closing down the ball carrier and getting a chance off the interceptions. The one time the visitors got a counter was when Niang pounced on a Javier Mascherano error in the 38th minute, but hit the post on a breakaway. Just seconds later, Messi got his brace. Mascherano was the weak link there, but the Diavolo didn’t try anything in his area all match.
The Barcelona “crisis” may be over, but that doesn’t mean that coach Jordi Roura is out of the woods. He’s still lacking leadership qualities and motivation that’s required for any side to succeed. Tactically he seems to be very knowledgeable and now that he’s got it spot on, maybe Barca can go forward with that and still win a couple of trophies. Allegri, like his club, still have some improving to do. This defeat has sent them back down to earth and has shown that they’ve got a lot to work on before fans can deem them as being back on top. Whether that means Allegri learning to triumph in Europe or for CEO Adriano Galliani and president Silvio Berlusconi to find another gaffer is yet to be seen. All that’s known is that the task from now until September is for Milan to mature as a squad and that Barcelona cannot afford to have any performances like the one in February anymore.
After last nights incredible result you may have forgotten about the Cheltenham Festival which is taking place right now. Make sure you check out betfair’s odds for today’s races!