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Milan vs Barcelona: the Rossoneri should park the bus to stop Messi and co.

February 19, 2013 By Angela Asante
Nothing destabilizes Barcelona’s invincible soldiers more than negative football does. If Milan want to triumph in the Champions League Last 16, they must ignore the importance of playing a beautiful game.
Mario Balotelli’s inability to feature in the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League as a cup-tied player means that Milan will be missing a key element in their puzzle against Barcelona. The Italians certainly cannot afford to push forward too much. When asked how the Rossoneri could overcome a Barcelona squad powered by the presence of Lionel Messi, Panchina d’Oro winner Antonio Conte of Juventus told reporters on Tuesday:

“How do you stop Messi? With a gun!”

This humorous answer might be similar to ‘parking the bus’ or ‘man-marking’ La Pulga. In fact, Milan are arguably no match for Barcelona on paper – player for player. Only tactics, and perhaps luck as Fabio Capello declared, could put the Rossoneri on top of the Blaugrana in this Last 16 tie.

Barcelona lead the possession chart by far in the UEFA Champions League this season. Statistics show that the Catalans gather an average of 75.5 per cent of ball possession in the tournament ahead of German giants Bayern Munich (60.9) and English masters Manchester United (57. 3).

Besides this fact, no team beats Barcelona when it comes to pass accuracy. Tito Vilanova’s side, guided by the wisdom of Xavi and Iniesta in midfield, perfectly executed 91.6 per cent of their passes in the group stages. Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri singled out ‘courage, strength and spirit’ as the three keys to unlock Barcelona’s fortress. During Tuesday’s pre-match press conference, the Italian manager stated:

“It doesn’t matter if we are facing Barca, Juve or Real Madrid. We need to be focused, run a lot and be good technically. We must try to limit Barca’s ball possession, and be good when we have the ball as they could give away space.”

Indeed, the Catalans’ defence has been questionable at times this season. Real Sociedad, making full use of this, beat them 3-2 in La Liga earlier in January. In the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, Malaga also managed to put four goals past Barcelona over the two legs.

Unfortunately for Malaga, they had more problems than Barca in defence so they ended up losing the tie 6-4 on aggregate. Learning from these matches and other past experiences, a good way for Milan to stop the rampant Blaugrana will be to play an ultra-defensive formation and hit the visitors on the counter.

As Milan president Silvio Berlusconi admitted on Monday in an interview with RTL 102.5, “it will be very difficult to beat Barcelona.”

“I know the role of the president and that of the coach – I respect those,” Berlusconi added before concluding on this matter:

“However, a president has the right to give advice to his coach. On this occasion, my suggestion would be that Messi is man-marked.”

Milan – with an unfit El Shaarawy and the absence of ‘Super Mario’ – may attempt to play an open game in the name of boldness. However, that could mean suicide for the hosts, advantage to Barcelona and an exhibition of goals for the entertainment of the public.

Silvio Berlusconi is known for giving ideas to Allegri before matches. He might have found the correct ugly plan to knock Barcelona out of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16: man-mark Lionel Messi… and park the bus!



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Group A
Jun 14 11:00amMoscow
Russia 5 - 0 Saudi Arabia
Jun 15 8:00amYekaterinburg
Egypt 0 - 1 Uruguay
Jun 19 2:00pmSaint Petersburg
Russia 3 - 1 Egypt
Jun 20 11:00amRostov-on-Don
Uruguay 1 - 0 Saudi Arabia
Jun 25 10:00amVolgograd
Saudi Arabia vs Egypt
Jun 25 10:00amSamara
Uruguay vs Russia
Group B
Jun 15 11:00amSaint Petersburg
Morocco 0 - 1 Iran
Jun 15 2:00pmSochi
Portugal 3 - 3 Spain
Jun 20 8:00amMoscow
Portugal 1 - 0 Morocco
Jun 20 2:00pmKazan
Iran 0 - 1 Spain
Jun 25 2:00pmSaransk
Iran vs Portugal
Jun 25 2:00pmKaliningrad
Spain vs Morocco
Group C
Jun 16 6:00amKazan
France 2 - 1 Australia
Jun 16 12:00pmSaransk
Peru 0 - 1 Denmark
Jun 21 8:00amSamara
Denmark 1 - 1 Australia
Jun 21 11:00amYekaterinburg
France vs Peru
Jun 26 10:00amSochi
Australia vs Peru
Jun 26 10:00amMoscow
Denmark vs France
Group D
Jun 16 9:00amMoscow
Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland
Jun 16 3:00pmKaliningrad
Croatia 2 - 0 Nigeria
Jun 21 2:00pmNizhny Novgorod
Argentina vs Croatia
Jun 22 11:00amVolgograd
Nigeria vs Iceland
Jun 26 2:00pmRostov-on-Don
Iceland vs Croatia
Jun 26 2:00pmSaint Petersburg
Nigeria vs Argentina
Group E
Jun 17 8:00amSamara
Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia
Jun 17 2:00pmRostov-on-Don
Brazil 1 - 1 Switzerland
Jun 22 8:00amSaint Petersburg
Brazil vs Costa Rica
Jun 22 2:00pmKaliningrad
Serbia vs Switzerland
Jun 27 2:00pmMoscow
Serbia vs Brazil
Jun 27 2:00pmNizhny Novgorod
Switzerland vs Costa Rica
Group F
Jun 17 11:00amMoscow
Germany 0 - 1 Mexico
Jun 18 8:00amNizhny Novgorod
Sweden 1 - 0 Korea Republic
Jun 23 11:00amRostov-on-Don
Korea Republic vs Mexico
Jun 23 2:00pmSochi
Germany vs Sweden
Jun 27 10:00amKazan
Korea Republic vs Germany
Jun 27 10:00amYekaterinburg
Mexico vs Sweden
Group G
Jun 18 11:00amSochi
Belgium 3 - 0 Panama
Jun 18 2:00pmVolgograd
Tunisia 1 - 2 England
Jun 23 8:00amMoscow
Belgium vs Tunisia
Jun 24 8:00amNizhny Novgorod
England vs Panama
Jun 28 2:00pmKaliningrad
England vs Belgium
Jun 28 2:00pmSaransk
Panama vs Tunisia
Group H
Jun 19 8:00amSaransk
Colombia 1 - 2 Japan
Jun 19 11:00amMoscow
Poland 1 - 2 Senegal
Jun 24 11:00amYekaterinburg
Japan vs Senegal
Jun 24 2:00pmKazan
Poland vs Colombia
Jun 28 10:00amVolgograd
Japan vs Poland
Jun 28 10:00amSamara
Senegal vs Colombia
Knockout Stage

Round of 16
Jun 30 10:00amKazan
[1C] vs [2D]
Jun 30 2:00pmSochi
[1A] vs [2B]
Jul 1 10:00amMoscow
[1B] vs [2A]
Jul 1 2:00pmNizhny Novgorod
[1D] vs [2C]
Round of 16
Jul 2 10:00amSamara
[1E] vs [2F]
Jul 2 2:00pmRostov-on-Don
[1G] vs [2H]
Jul 3 10:00amSaint Petersburg
[1F] vs [2E]
Jul 3 2:00pmMoscow
[1H] vs [2G]
Quarter Final
Jul 6 10:00amNizhny Novgorod
[W49] vs [W50]
Jul 6 2:00pmKazan
[W53] vs [W54]
Jul 7 10:00amSamara
[W55] vs [W56]
Jul 7 2:00pmSochi
[W51] vs [W52]
Jul 10 2:00pmSaint Petersburg
[W57] vs [W58]
Jul 11 2:00pmMoscow
[W59] vs [W60]
Third place match
Jul 14 10:00amSaint Petersburg
[L61] vs [L62]
Jul 15 11:00amMoscow
Final: FIFA World Cup 2018