AC Milan vs. Barcelona 2013: Keys for Each Side in Champions League Match

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2013

BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 03:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic (R) of AC Milan duels for the ball with Gerard Pique of FC Barcelona during the Champions League quarter-final second leg match between FC Barcelona and AC Milan at the Camp Nou stadium on April 3, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

Once again, the UEFA Champions League is providing fans with a great match between two of the most storied clubs in Europe as AC Milan takes on Barcelona.

Barcelona has been very impressive this season and is currently dominating La Liga with 65 points in only 24 matches.

AC Milan has struggled a bit more and is in third place in Serie A, but there is enough talent on this squad to defeat any team in the world.

The first leg of the Round of 16 is certain to be entertaining. However, it will take impressive play from either side to come out with an advantage. 

Here are the keys to the match for both clubs.

AC Milan

Put Pressure on the Keeper

Victor Valdes is one of the top goalkeepers in the world. Still, he is not perfect and has been known to let some balls pass.

He actually has not had a clean sheet in his last six starts with Barcelona.

AC Milan has a couple of dangerous goal scorers who are more than capable of putting the ball in the back of the net. The key in this match is to let them loose.

Barcelona has a strong enough defense to prevent any sort of dancing around in the box. This means if any player has a decent shot, it must be attempted.

It is unlikely that there will be many opportunities to score in this battle. The Italian squad has to take advantage of every chance it gets and fire the ball at the net.

Watch No. 10

There is not a soccer fan in the world who does not know about Lionel Messi. This season alone he has scored 46 goals for Barcelona, five of which were in his five UCL matches.

However, there is a big gap between Messi and David Villa, who has 11 total goals this year and is second on the club.

Obviously, defending Messi will not be an easy task. He is incredibly quick and can move with the ball better than anyone in the world.

That does not mean that the team cannot pay extra attention to the forward. The defense cannot lose him for a second, and there should be multiple eyes on him at all times.

There are plenty of talented players on Barcelona, but it is better to let others try to win this game.


Maintain Possession

This is something that Barcelona does better than almost any other squad in the world.

In a battle between two top clubs, it will be important to hold on to the ball and control the tempo and the possession for as long as possible.

AC Milan has a few impressive scorers, but they cannot do anything if they do not get the ball.

It is not vital for Barcelona to put a high number on the scoreboard in this road matchup. The squad will be happy leaving with a draw, as it heads back to Camp Nou in March.

They must wait for an opportunity to present itself and be patient when attacking the goal.

Prevent Avoidable Mistakes

Although this has been a dominant offensive club this season, the defense has been prone to devastating mistakes recently.

In fact, Barcelona is only tied for fourth in goals conceded despite holding a 12-point lead in La Liga.

Including Copa del Rey, this club has gone nine straight matches without a clean sheet.

What usually happens is a member of the defense loses focus and an opposing player is able to get a clean run at the goal. There is too much talent to allow that to happen.

AC Milan can make Barcelona pay if the back line makes any mistakes, so it must make sure to stay mentally in the match for all 90 minutes.


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