Advantage who? After a 0-0 draw at the San Siro, both Barca and Milan look to the return leg at the Nou Camp on Tuesday. Both teams had chances to win the game, Milan had two glorious chances in the first half. The first came after 2 minutes, Milan’s front three pressurized Barca’s back line causing a mistake, Boateng shot was blocked, the ball bounced to Robinho who skied his volley high and wide of the target. The second was again after pressure on Barca, Ambrosini tackled Busquets in midfield, the ball was played into Ibrahimovic who had managed to get in between the defense but slid the ball too close to Valdes.
Milan Line Up: Barca Line Up:
In between the two Milan chances, Barca could have and should have had a pen. From a well worked free kick, Busquets played the ball in behind Milan’s back line which found Sanchez. Stumbling he knocked the ball passed Abbiati who brought him down. Barca players appealed but claims were waved away by the referee and the assistant behind the goal; he was standing 3 yards away. God knows what the official does behind the goal does, waving his wand around.
Barca as you would expect had the majority of the possession but only on a few occasions they managed to get in behind Milan. The best chance came after neat interchanges between Xavi, Iniesta and Messi; Sanchez got in behind but laid off to Xavi rather than shooting. Milan’s game plan was simple, stick 9 men behind the ball and frustrate Barca. Milan played narrow which allowed Alves to bombard down the right flank as normal but to no avail this time. It seemed like Barca couldn’t work themselves into shooting positions and for all of their possession they didn’t score.
Milan’s narrowness Barca when attacking
In the second half, there were not many chances to note of, only a Puyol header
which flashed just wide of the far post and a great save and block from Abbiati and Antonio respectfully. The introduction of Tello for Barca and El Shaarawy for Milan added pace to both front lines but chances were at a premium.
Milan defended very well throughout the whole game with Ambrosini at the heart. Blocking shots, breaking up play and shielding the back 4 from the attacking force of Barca. He more than made up for the missing Van Bommell. He played the true captain role which stopped Messi and co from creating too many chances against them.
Onto the second leg, Barca obviously have the advantage being at home on the pristine pitch at the Nou Camp. The pitch at the San Siro wasn’t the best with players complaining throughout the match and afterwards. Arsenal players complained in the previous round but according to Chris Clements on twitter. The San Siro pitch has a ‘Perennial problem due to lack of ventilation & sunlight @ San Siro. Approaching 75 times pitch has been re-laid since 1990’.
Although Barca are at home, they don’t have an away goal which means that if Milan score at the Nou Camp, Barca have to score twice. Keeping Barca from scoring two has been done before. In 2009/2010, when Mourinho took his Inter side to the Nou Camp with a 3-1 lead only for Barca to win 1-0 on the night meaning Inter went through. Milan may need to take out the Mourinho approach of defend for your life. If Milan play like they did in the first leg, Barca may have a problem. Milan have already proved that they can score at the Nou Camp when they drew 2-2 in the group stage. Milan need to pressure Barca at the back, as shown within the first leg when they are put under pressure they produce mistakes. The front three for Milan have to pressurize Barca’s back line but they need to be careful not to be caught by the sucker punch. Saying that at times, Barca commit 7 men to the attack which can leave a 3 on 3 at the back. With Milan’s front three, they have quality to catch them out, so both teams need to be careful of the counter attack.
Milan’s pressure on Barca Danger of the Counter Attack
I think that it is advantage Barcelona in the second leg, with the force of Barca at the Nou Camp and the amount of possession they have; Milan have an uphill struggle. However, with Milan’s team they have players who can change games just like that, if they press Barca at the back and use the counter attack to their advantage then you could see an upset. Barca have the advantage but Milan are not out of this just yet.
Milan (4-1-2-1-2): Abbiati, Bonera, Nesta (Mesbah 74), Mexes, Antonini, Nocerino, Ambrosini, Seedorf, Boateng (Emanuelson 67), Robinho ( El Shaarawy 52), Ibrahimovic
Barca (4-3-3): Valdes, Alves, Mascherano, Pique, Puyol, Iniesta ( Tello 65), Busquets, Xavi, Keita, Messi, Sanchez (Pedro 76)