Spanish Giants Barcelona (Catalans) was stunned last Wednesday by AC Milan (Rossoneri) in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 match-up. AC Milan pulled off arguably the biggest upset in Champions League play to-date. The Italian Club defeated the highly-favored Barcelona FC in a stunning 2-0 defeat at San Siro Stadium in Italy.
Barcelona was initially favored to win the UEFA tournament given their dominance in European football. Prior to last Wednesday’s shocker, few doubted they would win the whole thing considering their roster is filled with a star-studded cast include the reigning FIFA world footballer of the year Lionel Messi, as well as the likes of Cristan Tello, David Villa; not to mention a sold midfield. (However, it is noteworthy; Barca’s midfield was totally out played by Milan's “not-to-shabby” midfield which included Massimo Ambrosini, Sulley Muntari and Riccardo Montolivo last week at San Siro). Despite the fact, Barcelona had possession of the ball for most of the game, they still lost in a stunning defeat by the Rossoneri.
Barcelona managed to muster up a ferocious attack, however, they could not get the ball behind Milan's defense (nor could they find the back of the net once).
Milan executed a great game plan. They took advantage of the few chances they got—created more goal-scoring opportunities, and capitalized on two of those chances. The Italian giants (AC Milan) will now travel to Camp Nou in less than 3 weeks riding a 2-goal aggregate.
Barca finished the game with just three shots on goal. They will no doubt look to improve on last week’s poor performance, by trying to create and taking more shots during the second leg at Camp Nou.
The Rossoneri have “smell blood” and will no doubt “go for the jugular”; as this is a huge opportunity to knock the Catalans out of the tournament and advance to the quarterfinals.
Pundits have doubted whether Milan is a legitimate contender after the surprise win last Wednesday. Whether or not Milan is legit, Barcelona has a lot of work to do—to erase the 0-2 deficit and advance to the next stage. They have to score three goals at Camp Nou and at the same time shutout Milan if they want to avoid elimination from Champions League Round of 16.
Barcelona players and supporters are saying the right things. While they have given AC Milan some credit for playing a solid game last week, they still maintain that Barcelona lost the game rather than Milan beating them.
They acknowledged that after taking just 3 shots last week, they did not deserve to win and agreed this is an issue that has to be addressed at the next meeting. Barcelona also acknowledged they need to be more discipline in their attack, and have to put the ball in the back of the net more with regularity.
The argument could be made that last Wednesday's match-up was ugly to watch. After Milan went up 2-0 they started to pack players behind the ball (sometimes having as many as 10 men behind the ball on defense).
Despite the fact that Barcelona will be better prepared on their home pitch—we know there is genuine concern inside their camp. Barca’s horrible play last week has left them in a hole and it’s not going to be easy digging themselves out of this one. All the Rossoneri have to do is go into the second leg of this match-up with another excellent game plan and execute. There are more possible scenarios that could occur to help Milan advance to the quarterfinals than there are for Barcelona.
The bottom-line is simple; Barca has to win by more than two goals if they want to keep their quest for another Champions League title alive.
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