Barcelona 3 Milan 1: Lessons from Camp Nou as Barça cruise through
What did we learn from Barcelona's 3-1 aggregate victory over AC Milan in their quarter-final tie at Camp Nou on Tuesday?
Another Barça academy product shines
The famed La Masia academy looks to have introduced another gem to the Nou Camp faithful. Having played for Barça’s B side, Isaac Cuenca appears to have found his feet in the senior outfit. The 20-year-old made his debut for the Catalonians in 2011 and has been used sparingly ever since. However, Cuenca has gradually forced his way into contention since David Villa suffered a season-ending injury in December. For Pep Guardiola to draft in the young Spaniard on such a big occasion shows real faith in him and the Barcelona academy. The tricky forward hugged the byline and stretched the Milan defence all night. He was always going to be overshadowed by Lionel Messi, but it was an indication of greater things to come.
Can the Blues stop Barça?
If Chelsea progress past Benfica on Wednesday night, can they stop Barça? The holders’ fluid and attacking style of football is usually capable of brushing aside any team and Roberto Di Matteo’s Chelsea should be no exception. But how can the Londoners stop Guardiola and his untouchables? When Milan got the ball on the floor and played attractive football, at times they looked dangerous – their goal was an example of this. If the London club can play the football they’re capable of, it should make for a great game. With the history these two clubs have shared on the European stage, their semi-final already seems to be one to look forward to – that is, of course, if Chelsea can hold off Benfica on Wednesday.
Ibrahimović was less-than-impressive
Barcelona old boy Zlatan Ibrahimović promised so much off the field before Tuesday’s match but delivered so little. The Swedish striker played in Barça’s 2009-10 title-winning side and arguably scored the goal that clinched the league in El Clásico. But the big man up front failed to cause any real threat against Carles Puyol and company, reminding the Barcelona supporters why they doubted him so much. Even when his side went 2-1 down, Ibrahimović didn’t inspire the Rossoneri and at times looked disinterested in what was going on around him. With Milan only managing three shots over the two legs, Ibrahimović and his strike partners should have worked the Barça goal more. Whether the occasion got to him, or he was simply stifled by Barça’s defence doesn’t matter now – Milan are out and the well-travelled striker will have a Serie A title to contend for.
Strong referee needed for semi-final clash
It’s a common sight in Barcelona matches – Puyol, Xavi and Sergio Busquets hounding the referee, waving for a card or a dismissal. Whoever Barça get in the semi-final, the opposition will be hoping for a strong referee. At times, their relentless pressuring of the officials has put a blemish on their performances and leaves the opposition with a bitter taste in their mouths. Big teams in big matches, when they’re at home, often get big decisions – and this proved to be the case tonight. Barcelona do themselves no favours in their constant hounding of officials.