Barcelona vs. AC Milan: Biggest Takeaways from the Red and Blacks' Victory

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2013

MILAN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 20:  Bakaye Traore of AC Milan in action during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between AC Milan and Barcelona at San Siro Stadium on February 20, 2013 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Just a day after Bayern shocked everyone at Emirates Stadium to defeat Arsenal, yet another world power fell hard during the Champions League Round of 16. Despite dominating possession for much of the match, FC Barcelona lost to AC Milan, 2-0, at San Siro to put the La Liga power's back firmly against the wall.

By virtue of their clean sheet, Milan is one goal at Camp Nou away from advancing to the next round. It was a shocking outcome for the underdog Red and Blacks, who many projected as an easy ouster for Barcelona. 

Overall, Wednesday's match was one of middling pace. Barcelona kept possession and pace on their side, but the brilliance of Milan's defense and efficiency of their attack made proved too much for the Catalans. As with all major upsets, there are plenty of players to blame and credit for the victory, along with some takeaways for both sides as they prepare for a second cap in March.

With that in mind, here is a complete breakdown of a few notes from Wednesday's action.


Possession Does Not Mean Everything

If you strip away the final score and simply look at the stat sheet, the numbers tell a tale of Barcelona domination. They held possession for a whopping 73 percent of the match, had six fewer fouls committed and drew half as many offsides penalties

It looks like the carbon copy of what Barcelona have done to so many teams in La Liga this season. Dominate the pitch on both sides of the field and leave it up to their forwards (read: Lionel Messi) to come through with a strike.

That did not happen on Wednesday. Instead, it was Milan who took advantage of nearly every small positive outcome they were given. Despite holding the ball for just 27 percent of the match, Milan managed to out-shoot their counterparts and knock through two second-half goals to come away victorious.

Toward the end of the game, it was almost as if the two sides had switched places. Milan looked like the dominant favorite, while Barcelona looked deathly afraid of their opposition's aggression. 

It's near soccer law that when a team holds possession as long as Barcelona did on Wednesday, it wins. Milan once again proved that for every rule, there is one notable exception. 


Milan Have the Ability to Stop Anyone in the World—Even Lionel Messi

Largely viewed as one of the world's best defensive teams, Milan brought out their best defensive game plan in memory on Wednesday. Shutting down the Barcelona attack right around the 20-yard line, Milan were able to keep 

That being said, teams have tried these tactics against Barcelona multiple times. Usually, they are rebuffed by the individual brilliance of Lionel Messi, who has saved Barcelona from many frustrating defeats over the years.

Messi showed his human side versus Milan. He took just two shots, one of which came on a free kick, and had just one touch inside the penalty area on Wednesday. It was an uncharacteristic disappearing act from Messi, who looked defanged by the intricate Milan defensive attack.

But rather than criticize Messi, it's important to Massimiliano Allegri. He was able to devise a plan to stop the world's best player and put his side in a position to advance farther than anyone expected in Champions League play.

It just remains to be seen whether he'll be able to draw up an equally brilliant offensive plan in the second leg. If he's able to get the Red and Blacks on the board at Camp Nou, there will be plenty more reason to celebrate.


Kevin-Prince Boateng: The Unlikeliest Hero

Heading into Wednesday's match, Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng was in the midst of one of his worst professional seasons. He had just one goal and three assists in 28 appearances for Milan this season and had been noticeably outclassed multiple times.

Though they still have to hit the road next month, Boateng's goal in the 56th minute may have sent his squad to the next round.

Admittedly, Boateng's score wouldn't be the prettiest girl at the party. He essentially was in the right place at the right time, scooped up a loose ball and fired it into a relatively open net. Here is a GIF of the whole confusing sequence:

Yep. That's just about all the evidence you need to see why Milan is one solid result away from advancing.