After successfully frustrating
Lionel Messi and Barcelona, AC Milan believe they can oust the
title-holders in the second leg of their Champions League
quarter-final at the Nou Camp next week.
Messi was harried, hounded and pushed by the Milan defenders
who often used a rotation system, where defenders take it in
turns to give away free-kicks, to bring his trademark runs at
the heart of their defence to an abrupt end.
Despite playing at home and managing only 38 percent of
possession, coach Massimiliano Allegri was delighted with
Wednesday's 0-0 draw and, above all, the commitment of his side.
"I've always said that I'm lucky enough to train a great
group of professionals and even the players who aren't on the
pitch, even the ones who watch from the stands, they're always
ready when they're called upon," he said.
Midfielder Massimo Ambrosini, standing in for the
intimidating Mark van Bommel in midfield, Luca Antonini and
36-year-old Alessandro Nesta, who replaced the injured Thiago
Silva at the heart of the defence, were excellent as Milan,
seven-times European champions, held firm.
Nesta seemed happy to accept a yellow card as the price for
ending one of Messi's runs and Milan believe they can sneak an
away goal next Tuesday.
"This draw should give us trust and courage," said
Ambrosini. "There was the right spirit tonight, before, during
and after the match. We'll go to Barcelona with trust in
"The squad deserve praise, as do the fans. We'll have the
same spirit there as well. We have to be honest, we're facing a
team that has defined their era of football but we'll go there
Ambrosini himself was showered with praise by his team-mates.
"Ambrosini was a real gladiator, he fought for every ball
both in defence and attack," said Antonini, who had something of
a journeyman career, being loaned from club to club, before he
joined Milan in 2008.
"I saved a goal from Alexis Sanchez as I had the timing and
the reflexes to slide in on time and take the ball away from
him. It was a bit of skill and a bit of luck.
"We faced them on equal terms and that gives us the strength
to go to the Nou Camp and play for a place in the semi-finals."
When Barcelona did get through, they were foiled by
Christian Abbiati who pulled off several outstanding saves in
the Milan goal.
Messi also had to struggle with a dreadful San Siro pitch,
at one point slipping as he went to take a free-kick. His
frustration appeared to boil over with an uncharacteristic late
tackle on Clarence Seedorf, for which he was lucky to escape a
Barcelona are expecting to face more of the same at home
next week, knowing that if Milan can sneak an away goal they
face a struggle to retain the title.
"We know how experienced they are, they have a lot of clever
players so I think the next game will be the same because they
defend so well," said Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano.
"But we have a lot of players in attack that can put on a
good show, score goals and win us the match."
Central defender fit enough to play in the Champions League final at Wembley
Bayern Munich unfazed by the need to be more clinical in attack against Borussia Dortmund
Ruud Gullit believes Bayern Munich are in for a shock when they take on Borussia Dortmund
Napoli president denies reports that he has named Rafael Benitez as club's new manager
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
75% of all TV is Bale
On the road to ruin
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010