After a week in which it was being asked in the Catalan and Spanish media if Messi had lost his touch after a lack of goals following his injury layoff, or whether Barça’s glory days were behind them under Tata Martino, the squad sent out a clear message in their match against Milan last night.
Barcelona dominated from the start, while Milan opted for highly defensive play making it difficult to get through. In the end Neymar was brought down in Milan’s area and a penalty awarded to the Catalans; Messi ended his goal drought by putting Barça ahead. Busquets also scored minutes after Messi’s first goal, while the Italians’ only goal came towards the end of the first half when Pique deflected Kaka’s shot into his own goal.
During the second half Milan looked to drop their focus on pure defence and started to look at attacking the Barcelona goal. However, with their defence now opened up Messi delivered his second goal 10 minutes from time assisted by Cesc to seal their victory and a place in the last 16.
1-0 Messi (min 29)
2-0 Busquets (min 38)
2-1 Piqué (min 44)
3-1 Messi (min 82)
The result means that Barcelona are now guaranteed to be through to the next round whatever now happens in the group stages, five points ahead of second place Milan. Not bad for a team that some said was in crisis.
Last night’s Champions League group stage match against AC Milan ended in a draw after first half goals from Robinho and Messi, leaving Barcelona at the top of the table for Group H.
Milan came out clearly focused on scoring early only to have their first goal ruled offside. However, a couple of minutes later their determintaion payed off, with Robinho putting the ball into the back of the Barça net. The Italians’ energy soon waned though and Barcelona picked up, demonstrating their usual high possession rate and when the time came, 20 minutes into the game, with Busquets and Iniesta setting up the goal for Leo Messi.
Despite controlling high possession the Catalans were unable to score again, despite some good opportunities. Neymar saw a volley just go wide at one stage but in the end the teams were forced to share the points.
1-0 Robinho (min 8)
1-1 Messi (min 22)
Barcelona’s next Champions League fixture is against Milan on 6th November. Before that we have the Nou Camp “clasico” on Saturday and the Barcelona derby on 1st November.
With the draw for Champions League having taken place yesterday afternoon, Simply Barcelona Tickets now has prices for the Nou Camp matches. Barcelona has been drawn against Ajax, AC Milan and Celtic, with the group stage home matches taking place on 18th September, 6th November and 9th December.
For full details and pricing see our Champions League page here.
FC Barcelona overcame the odds last night to turn around their 2-0 defeat in the first leg of the Champions League knockout stage by Milan three weeks ago and make it through to the quarter finals with flying colours. The result of the first leg meant they had to make it 3-0 or better to ensure their place, a feat which according to Sky News had never been done before.
What was clear was that the squad came into the stadium intending to do all they could towards winning, whether or not it had been done before. Very quickly the Catalans showed who was in charge and Lionel Messi scored the first goal in the fourth minute. Soon after Milan had one of their only chances on an open Barcelona goal, which went badly wrong for the Italians when it rebounded off the post instead.
Four minutes before the half time break Messi scored his second of the night to at least put them on an even footing with Milan, a virtual reset for the second half.
Back on after the break, Villa soon made it three goals for Barcelona. Although it was still a good result, it would only take a goal from the visitors to take this round still and so Barcelona contunued pushing.
And in the closing minutes of the goal, that twilight period where things ciould easily have gone astray with a break from Milan, it was Jordi Alba who signed and sealed the result for Barça, with an injury time goal that made the 95,000 strong crowd ecstatic. Last night’s result makes it the sixth successive year that the Catalans have made it thorugh to the quarterfinals.
1-0 Messi (min 4)
2-0 Messi (min 38)
3-0 Villa (min 54)
4-0 Jordi Alba (min 92)
Disaster stuck FC Barcelona last night when they lost the first leg of the Champions League quarter finals against AC Milan in Italy.
After not really getting to grips with the game and ended in a goalless draw at the break, Boateng scored 10 minutes into the second half after a blatant hand ball by Zapata. And then eleven minutes from the end Muntari scored Milan’s second goal to seal the match for the Italians.
While the result is unwelcome, the Catalans still have what it takes to overcome the disadvantage as they go into the home leg on March 12th.
1-0 Boateng (min 55)
2-0 Muntar (min 79)
FC Barcelona reached the semi-finals of the Champions League after beating AC Milan 3-1 at the Camp Nou on Tuesday night. Messi scored two penalties and Iniesta slotted home a third. Nocerino scored for AC Milan in the first half, making it 1-1 and briefly giving his team the lead in the tie. At any rate the home team created numerous opportunities and could easily have qualified by a greater margin.
Barcelona dominated both the share of chances and possession in the first half, finding space with relative ease despite the away side’s efforts to sit deep and compact. Milan tended to keep Robinho and Ibrahimovic forward for counter attacks, but for the most part the supply lines were cut off by Barça’s incessant pressing.
The home team started creating opportunities within just a few minutes of the kick-off. Cesc lofted a delicate chip behind the Milan defence for Messi, but Argentine got it wrong and scuffed his shot wide with just Abbiati to beat.
Soon after, Barcelona won a penalty. Messi, seized on an error by Milan high up the pitch. He got into the area but elected to square for Xavi rather than shoot. The ball found its way back to the feet of Messi, who was felled by Antonini as the defender tried to recover. Messi stepped up and tucked the penalty into the bottom left corner.
For the next 20 minutes Barcelona looked very comfortable – keeping the ball well and winning it back before Milan could build any attacks. But suddenly, against the run of play, Ibrahimovic received the ball deep in the Barcelona half and picked out Nocerino as the midfielder overlapped. Nocerino slid the ball beneath Valdes to make it 1-1 with Milan’s first shot on goal and give them the lead in the tie.
There was more urgency from the home team after conceding, and following a couple of shots from distance they earned another penalty. Xavi swung in a corner, but Nesta had a handful of Busquets’ shirt and brought the midfielder down. Messi took the penalty again and dispatched into the bottom right corner this time
Milan emerged with more attacking intent in the second half, but couldn’t achieve more than a couple of corners before Barcelona had exteneded their lead. A Messi shot was deflected into Iniesta’s path. Faced with only the ‘keeper to beat he curled the ball neatly inside the right post.
Milan fought to get a foothold in the match, sending a handful of dangerous long passes behind the Barcelona backline, but Valdés and his defence dealt with them comfortably enough. It was Barcelona who came closest to getting the next goal – Cesc lofted a pass forward to Messi, who chested it down and laid it off for Thiago to just miss the right hand post with a low shot. Later, only a desperate last-second lunge by Abbiati denied Messi a hat-trick after a mix-up in the Milan defence.
1-0 Messi (min 10)
1-1 Nocerino (min 32)
2-1 Messi (min 40)
3-1 Iniesta (min 53)
FC Barcelona qualified top of Group H on Wednesday night, beating Milan 3-2 in an entertaining encounter at the San Siro. There was a thrilling mix of skill and controversy; Barça’s goals game through a van Bommel own goal, Messi and Xavi after a fine team move. Milan equalized twice, with Ibrahimovic and Boateng grabbing two well-worked goals.
Although Milan and Barcelona had already achieved qualification for the second round, first place, and with it the prospect of an easier knockout opponent, was still up for grabs. Both clubs fielded competitive teams, with a host of stars lining up at kick-off. Messi, Xavi, Villa, Cesc and Puyol were present for Barça, while Swedish striker Ibrahimovic started for Milan against his former club.
After an even opening few minutes, Barcelona took the lead through an own goal by Dutch veteran Mark van Bommel; Keita got free down the left side of the area and produced a low cross that wrong-footed a number of Milan players, including their midfielder who turned it into his net under pressure from Xavi.
Barcelona were nearly two-up seconds later, when Thiago showed quick feet and quick thinking to flick the ball past the backline for Cesc Fábregas, whose volley was straight at Abbiati.
After this let off Milan started to find their feet. First Robinho somehow contrived to turn a Boateng cross over the bar, and then Seedorf trapped a long pass on the left angle of the area. He then pushed the ball through for Ibrahimovic who scored with a low first-time shot.
But the momentum was soon back with the away team. Messi was denied at close range, and some flowing Barcelona moves were ended only by last-ditch tackles. Then, on the half-hour mark, Alberto Aquilani was adjudged to have hauled down Lionel Messi – much to the home team’s dismay. After lengthy protestations by Milan, the Argentine forward stepped up to take his kick. His first effort was chalked off thanks to its stuttering run-up, but the second was legitimate, and was tucked into the bottom right corner.
In the final minutes of the half Abbiati made important saves from both Messi and Villa to preserve a score-line that perhaps flattered the hosts.
The second period was an altogether more subdued affair, but was lit up by moments of sublime skill. On an individual level, Boateng’s 53rd minute equalizer was something to behold; Mascherano half-cleared a deep cross for Ibra, and the ball fell to AC Milan’s German talent – he trapped the ball first time and flicked the ball past Abidal with his heel before slamming home at Valdes’ near post.
In no mood to be outdone, Barcelona reclaimed the lead on the hour-mark through a fabulous team goal. At the end of it Messi produced a forensic through-pass, evading four Milan defenders, which finished with expert precision by Xavi. Later, Abbiati made two point-blank saves to keep substitiute Alexis at bay, but Barcelona were more than comfortable.
0-1 Van Bommel (min 13)
1-1 Ibrahimovic (min 19)
1-2 Messi (min 30)
2-2 Boateng (min 55)
2-3 Xavi (min 64)
FC Barcelona drew 2-2 at home to AC Milan on Tuesday night. The Italian club scored in the first and last minute, bookending goals by Pedro and David Villa, in a match that the Guardiola’s men should have won with ease.
Only Puyol and Piqué were absent from what might be considered a first choice XI, while Alexis Sánchez began his recuperation from the injury he sustained at Real Sociedad. Milan were missing some important players, most notably Robinho and Ibrahimovic, but were still able to field a potent front-line of Cassano and Pato.
And it was the young Brazilian striker who stole the initiative and caught Barcelona cold after just 25 seconds – blazing past Busquets to slot the ball home beneath the helpless Valdés to give his side a shock lead. Pato continued to threaten on and off for the next 20 minutes before fading with the rest of his team as the match wore on.
The home side slowly recovered their composure after this early setback, and slowly began to dominate. At first AC Milan offered stout defensive resistance, but Barça soon began to carve chances, with Messi the driving force.
The livewire Argentine forced two saves from Abbiati with low drives, and clipped the outside of the right post with a curling 25-yard free-kick. David Villa also looked dangerous, smashing an acrobatic volley just over the bar.
Eventually the pressure told, and unsurprisingly it was Messi who made the difference; he picked up the ball on the edge of the area and bustled past three Milan defenders with a mix of tenacity and skill, before reaching the goal-line and cutting back for Pedro to finish from five yards. Things were looking good for Barca, but the mood was dampened slightly when Iniesta was forced from the field with a muscle injury just before half time.
Barcelona picked up the second half where they left off – Xavi drove a shot from the right angle of the area, which Abbiati pushed out for a corner. Minutes later the home side won a free-kick 20 yards out, in an inside-left position. This time David Villa stepped up, and the Asturian striker curled the ball beautifully into the top-left corner, leaving Milan’s goalkeeper no chance.
Now in the lead, Guardiola’s men dropped the tempo slightly, playing almost entirely in Milan’s half but rarely threatening their goal. Pedro had a couple of half chances, while Messi was stopped by a brilliant last-ditch tackle from Alessandro Nesta.
Puyol put his recent injury troubles behind him to replace Seydou Keita on 66 minutes, and Barcelona looked set to wind the clock down, with AC Milan seemingly a spent force.
That was until injury time, when Abidal tried to shield the ball out for a goal kick, accidentally clipping it in the process. Seedorf took the resulting corner, lofting a perfect cross for defender Thiago Silva to head home and make the final score an unlikely 2-2.
0-1, Pato (min 1)
1-1, Pedro (min 36)
2-1, Villa (min 49)
2-2, Thiago Silva (min 93)
If you’re looking for details of next season’s fixtures then you don’t have much longer to wait.
I’m expecting the draw it at the end of next week and will email you as soon as I have details – I’m in the middle of moving house at the moment so chaos rules, but thanks to the magic of a laptop plus Vodafone I can work from anywhere! You will get that email…
I’ve already sent you details of the Spanish Supercup to be played against Sevilla in August. The home leg will be played on 21/22 August at the Nou Camp:
Spanish Supercup 2010
But I’ve got some more news for you… Ronaldinho is returning to Barcelona!
It’s just for one night though, and it’s with his current club, AC Milan. The Italian club has been invited to play in the annual Gamper Trophy, an invitation event named after the founder of FC Barcelona.
I don’t have prices yet, but you’ll see them at the link below sometime this week:
Gamper Trophy 2010