Why I love Milan... and why it feels like a win!
First of all, Milan didn't actually win, but it sure feels like they did. The draw will certainly put a smile on Rossoneri faces across the world. And even though Barca had somewhere around 80% of possession, I'd say Milan deserved the result they got. They defended admirably, Nesta especially put in a world class performance. Barcelona had one real chance and they took it, the other goal came from a free kick. The fact that Milan managed to score two goals without their two best strikers proves this Rossoneri squad are formidable opponents. And above all, this match is evidence that though Serie A is not where it used to be, but it is not the boring, defense-only league people think it is. Just look at the Serie A results from this weekend. So here are my thoughts and analysis:
After Pato's burst through the middle to score inside the first minute, I went crazy. To be honest, I was hoping for a draw at best in this game. So, when Milan took the lead in a similar fashion to the Derby della Madoninna in April, I was overjoyed. I knew for Milan to have a chance in this game, Pato would have to show up. And he certainly did. He was full of energy right from the start, just looking to exploit Barca's makeshift defense on the counter. I'm now happy with my choice to have Pato's name and number printed on the back of my new Milan kit.
Following the dream start to the match, things started to slow down with Barca controlling possession. Milan's backline looked impressive from the start and honestly, holding the world's best team to one real goal and then a free kick (which they can't do anything about) is very good. Barca couldn't break through and settled for knocking the ball around and letting Milan chase, hoping to tire them out. Messi had some shots on goal testing Abbiati a few times including a free kick which just hit the post. But other than that, the Blaugrana couldn't create much to my surprise and delight. Every once in a while, Milan would mount a harmless counter-attack, the closest to being a goal came from some good work by Pato who set up Boateng, who eventually fired way over the bar.
Then came the breakthrough from Barcelona. Some delightful work by Messi dragged Milan's entire defense over to try to stop the Ballon D'Or winner, leaving Pedro wide open to tap in. Disappointing, but it's amazing to see how Messi can turn a solid, organized defense into an array of confusion. After this, I thought it would be all Barca. The Italian champs' backline held though, still limiting Barca to meaningless possession without any legitimate chances.
In the 50' minute, David Villa score a wonderful set piece, which was thought to be the winner. Nothing Milan could do about this one.
The game was thought by most to be over. Barca just toyed with Milan, making them chase the ball in the midfield. Both teams seemed to be satisfied with the scoreline. And out of the blue pops Thiago Silva. The Barcelona defense was nowhere to be seen, letting the Brazilian defender power a header past Valdes from a Seedorf corner kick. I couldn't believe it. I had already accepted that my favorite team lost and I wasn't too upset. I mean it's Barcelona. Can't be disappointed. But this goal completed my joy.
And all this happened with Milan's most influential player, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and samba king Robinho both injured. Milan look more competitive than some may have thought this year in Europe. In fact, I'm more worried about the physical and speedy Premier League clubs than Barcelona. I can't imagine Milan's aging defense trying to deal with Rooney, Chicharito, and Nani among others. But that's something to worry about on another day. So goodbye for now and Forza Milan!!!