1) Shock result or justified following the performance on the pitch?
Frankie: Milan had to play the perfect game, whilst Barcelona had to have an off-day. Both of these happened. The Catalans, as expected, had a lot of possession – but couldn’t penetrate the Milan defense enough. Messi was almost anonymous. All of the best chances on the night fell to the Italians and it just so happened to be two former Portsmouth players that applied two finishes. A sterling performance from Milan; a deserved result.
Sam: Result most certainly justified. Milan were the better team on the night, with Barca bereft of any quality, not helped by the Italians’ staunch defensive performance
Tom: Completely justified result for Milan. They weren’t troubled by Barcelona at all and remained focused despite having a very small amount of possession. Massimo Allegri got his tactics spot on, Milan pressed high up the pitch, and defended in numbers. They didn’t allow Barca’s game to flow at all, and bar a long-range effort from Iniesta, Abbiati wasn’t troubled. Worth noting how much Allegri will have enjoyed that. In the pre-match press conference he voiced his anger and frustration at the way the media were portraying Milan as the victims and being written off. His Milan side performed almost perfectly on the night.
2) Who was your man of the match?
Frankie: I said in the preview that Stephan El Shaarawy was going to be key. Simply put: he lived up to the billing. El Shaarawy provided a constant outlet for Milan – and his defining moment of the game came for the second goal. After precise build-up, ‘El Sha’ delicately dinked the ball over the Barcelona defender to team-mate Sulley Muntari – who was only happy to comply with a powerful finish. El Shaarawy has arrived.
Sam: I was impressed by KPB’s dynamism in midfield. He was again produced when it matters – in the big games. He was excellent at breaking on the counter, remaining disciplined in defence and sticking to Allegri’s game plan. The goal wasn’t too bad as well
Tom: There are a few contenders for man of the match. Firstly Philippe Mexes, he was solid at the back and despite an early yellow, he didn’t put a foot wrong. Massimo Ambrosini worked tirelessly in midfield, the 35-year-old captain put on a truly outstanding performance for the Rossoneri and deserves all the praise he gets. Lastly, probably the most popular choice, Stephane El Shaarawy. Huge performance from the young man. Worked hard, tracked back and provided one of the most composed assists you’ll ever see when setting up Muntari for the second goal.
3) It’s not finished, there’s a second leg to come. What’s going to happen?
Frankie: A two-nil victory in a home leg of a Champions League against most teams is usually enough to go through. Barcelona aren’t like most teams. You’d still be a brave man to bet against the Catalans. After a disappointing first leg, little Leo Messi will be looking for revenge – in the place in which he knows how to dish it out. Just ask Arsenal. Two times have The Gunners returned to the Nou Camp, only to be taken apart by the best player in the world. Having said that, Barça look awfully shaky at the back. One goal from Milan and the tie would be all-but over. An early Barcelona goal however, and it will be an awfully long night for The Rossoneri.
Sam: Barca aren’t going to give up, that’s for sure. Have come back from 1st leg deficits against Arsenal in recent past, and Milan almost capitulated against Arsenal also last year. Probably one of their worst performances this season, I don’t think Milan will hold out in the next leg.
Tom: Overturning a two goal deficit is extremely difficult. No away goal means Barcelona will have to win 3-0, and having conceded in their previous 10 games, it is exceedingly likely than Milan can score in Camp Nou. They scored three times in two games at Camp Nou last season, and an away goal in three weeks time would make it near impossible for Barcelona to qualify. Expect a really exciting second leg though, as Barcelona will have to go all out for a win.
Keep your eyes peeled for more Talking Champions when Champions league action returns from its little break. Did you enjoy the match? What would your answers have been to any of our questions? Leave us your comments or get in touch on twitter @talkingbaws.