Having had a very bad night at the San Siro, FC Barcelona and their fans knew that their second leg quarter-final tie against AC Milan wouldn’t be an easy one. There was only going to be 90-something minutes of play for their fate to be decided, and so every single second on the pitch would matter. There would be no room for errors, and everyone was expected to give 101 percent.
In the same way, every single one of the 90-something minutes of this game would be hard for AC Milan, who, I’m sure, were aware of how dangerous playing against the Spanish Giants was going to be. With Barcelona’s home form this season, Milan were to work doubly- hard to ensure that they would go through with the advantage they’d gained during the first leg of this match.
Having had a taste of what it was like to have a good first leg and almost lose everything in the second leg (from previous seasons), Milan planned to avoid conceding at all costs. The best squads were lined-up, with great consideration of what each team’s main goal for this game would be, i.e. for Barcelona, it would be to score, whereas for Milan, it would be to get away goals and avoid conceding). The stage was all set for an exciting match.
The first half of this game started well for the home side as they anxiously tried to erase the Milan advantage. They were anxious to get an early goal, and their successful passes ensured they did just that. Just as Milan’s defense was still getting adjusted, Lionel Messi scored a beauty with his left foot inside just 5 minutes. Abbiati could do nothing to keep this one from getting into the top corner of the net, and the home side were one step closer to achieving their goal. Things continued to go very well for the home side for the remainder of the first half, keeping Milan busy at the back. They managed to keep the ball more than their opponents, with their first half possession being at an astounding 75%.
Milan had to try and focus. At about 30 minutes into the game, Milan’s form became more stable and they were able to keep their hosts quiet. El Shaarawy got close to Valdes in the Barcelona goal a few times, and Niang almost got the ball into the net, but they were both unlucky; the former prevented by a strong home defense, and the latter by the goal post.
Just when Massimiliano Allegri was preparing his half-time speech to his players, his problems got bigger as Lionel Messi got yet another one into the net at 5 minutes to the break. Some quick thinking from Andres Iniesta provided Messi (who was in a great position) a chance to make it 2-0, and the little magician didn’t hesitate to put the ball into the net.
Milan’s defense had failed yet again and Abbiati was once again beaten, despite a great effort to prevent the goal. The home side had leveled things on aggregate and could now go into the dressing room to focus on winning the game, rather than catching up. Kevin Constant had done a good job trying to prevent more goals, and was probably the man of the half for Milan. Lionel Messi, with already a brace in his pocket, was undoubtedly the man of the half for the home side.
The second half of this game started in just about the same manner the first half had ended. Barcelona continued to look for a goal and Milan looked more desperate. Lionel Messi almost completed his hat-trick just three minutes into the second half, but Abbiati was able to keep this from happening. The Milan defense had started the second half on a bad note, but they were able to hold well for a while later on. They were certainly better in the second half.
Kevin-Prince Boateng had a chance to put his side ahead on away goals, but his header from a Niang corner went out wide. It seemed as though the home side had a response to everything Milan tried to do; just as Milan tried to create something, the home side would steal it from them.
And steal it from them well they did, as just 10 minutes into the second half, a third goal came in for the Catalans. Javier Mascherano started a good counter, leaving space for Xavi to release Villa, who had no one ahead of him. Villa made no mistakes getting past Abbiati, and his side were now officially ahead.
The Milan side seemed to have been demoralized by the third goal, but they kept on pressing to get a very precious away goal. A double-substitution from Massimiliano Allegri changed the Milan game a little bit, but not enough to entirely hold their hosts. Muntari and Robinho came on for Ambrosini and Niang respectively.
Messi, again, had a chance to get his hat-trick with an almost “Ronaldish” shot, but it was just wide to the relief of the Milan faithful at Camp Nou. Massiniliano decided that his third and final substitution of the night would be Krkic on for Flamini. Jordi Roura made a substitution a minute later, putting on Alexis Sanchez for David Villa, and then two minutes later Puyol was brought on for Mascherano.
The home side kept dominating, but Milan were starting to really threaten here. One goal would be all it would have taken for Barcelona’s hard work to go to waste, and they weren’t about to let that happen. Their defense intensified, just as they kept trying to get balls forward to seal a victory. Jordi Alba prevented a good attempt from Robinho from going in, and this might have perhaps saved his side a lot!
The home side were to hold on a bit longer as three very long minutes, it seemed, were added on. Barcelona added to their tally just a minute from full time, much to the delight of their fans, when Alexis Sanchez found Jordi Alba, who put yet another one past a disappointed Abbiati. Milan were almost saved by Mexes, but his shot was poorly off-target and it was just too late. Milan were out, and Barcelona were through.
Statistic-wise, Barcelona had more attempts (14 against a mere 6). Victor Valdes was barely bothered in the Barcelona goal as compared to his Italian counterpart in the Milan goal. A total of 4 yellow cards were issued between the two teams; 1 to the home side and 3 to their Italian visitors. No players were sent off during this game.
Jordi Roura and Massimiliano Allegri lined up the following squads:
Barcelona Starting XI
Valdes, Dani Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Xavi (c), Iniesta, Busquets, David Villa, Messi, Pedro Rodriguez
Subs: Pinto, Puyol, Adriano, Fàbregas, Song, Alexis Sánchez, and Tello
AC Milan Starting XI
Abbiati, Mexès, Zapata, Abate, Boateng, Flamini, Montolivo, Constant, Ambrosini (c), Niang, El Shaarawy
Subs: Amelia, De Sciglio, Bonera, Muntari, Nocerino, Robinho, and Bojan Krkić
Final Score: Barcelona 4-0 AC Milan (Agg: 4-2)
Messi 5′, 40′, Villa 55′, Alba 90+2′
Having eliminated AC Milan, Barcelona are through to the Quarter Finals of the UEFA Champions League. Their opponents will be announced at the official draw on March 15th in Nyon.
Written by Ange Marline