AC Milan 2 Barcelona 0: Lessons as Allegri’s men secure a famous win
AC Milan 2 Barcelona 0: What lessons did we learn as Massimiliano Allegri's men stunned the La Liga leaders at the San Siro?
Milan’s tactics undo Catalans
Massimiliano Allegri will have been very happy with the result as well as the manner of his side’s victory over Barcelona on Wednesday night as Milan ran out deserved 2-0 victors. Milan had looked to defend with tenacity and determination from the off, while attempting to catch Barcelona on the counter-attack. That, in essence is precisely what they did. The Serie A club stuck to their game-plan throughout the tie’s 95 minutes and in truth, never really looked like allowing Barcelona a clear chance on goal. Massimo Ambrosini and company were workmanlike in their attitudes, refusing to give Milan any real time to relax on the ball – and the game-plan worked very well indeed.
Messi restricted throughout
Before the match, Lionel Messi’s recent record-breaking form was all many could talk about. However, the Milan side coped with him expertly and gave him very little chance to shine. In fact, the closest the Argentine came to rattling the opposition’s net was a free-kick in the second half that he fired high over the bar. The Barça star was denied space and opportunity in every move he made and there was always an extra Milan player to hand ready to hassle and harry him. It will be interesting to see whether or not the Italian side can deny Messi again when the sides meet on 12 March.
Barcelona lack invention
Aside from the opening 15 minutes, when Tito Vilanova’s men dominated possession and asserted their dominance on the game, the Catalans rarely looked as threatening as they can be. They seemed to lack ideas when faced with the brick wall that was the Milan defence. Christian Abbiati had very little to do throughout as Milan’s rearguard took care of business. Tactically, Barcelona only had one game-plan – to monopolise possession while looking to thread passes through the opposition’s defence. The opportunities they will have hoped for never really materialised and Milan took full advantage of the counter-attack. However, the Camp Nou is always an intimidating venue to play, and Milan will have a real test of nerves when they visit for the second leg next month.
Muntari steals the show
Although it was Kevin-Prince Boateng who put Milan ahead in the 57th minute, Sulley Muntari took everyone by surprise when he popped up to put the result beyond doubt. It was his first-ever European goal, and it was an extremely well-taken one. Milan were made to pay for holding a very high line as substitute M’Baye Niang knocked the ball on to Stephan El Shaarawy who coolly laid the ball on to the former Porsmouth star, and from only a few yards out he made no mistake with a tremendous finish. Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes didn’t stand a chance.