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"It little profits that an idle king, By this still hearth, among these barren crags, Match'd with an ag├Ęd wife, I mete and dole Unequal laws unto a savage race, That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me."

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

AC Milan 0 - 1 Barcelona

We are all extemely fortunate to be watching Ronaldinho perform during the peak of his career. If not, we would never have known what we had missed!

My knowledge of such footballing greats like Pele, Cryuff, Puskas, Yashin, even Maradona is limited to an odd clipping on TV, or a book or column on the history of football. Maybe, I can feel happy, even proud that I did not miss the magic of the great Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, nicknamed Ronaldinho.

And when this smiling assassin took on the giants in their own lair, he produced a special effort that sees Barcelona going back to the Camp Nou with a crucial away goal. The men from Milan would be pleased that they are not trailing by more, because they were almost clueless for 45 minutes as Barca cut open the solid Milan defence time and again in an exhibition of football of the highest order.

The game though started very differently. AC Milan are probably the most complete club side in Europe. They have some of the best attackers in the game - Shevchenko, Inzaghi, the young Gilardinho and Kaka. And are blessed with the best defence - Cafu, Nesta, Stam, Kaladze, and the peerless Paolo Maldini. With a midfield that can attack or defend at will. Barcelona, contrarily, rely on attack. Minus Puyol and Marquez, Barcelona's defence is uninspiring. So, the tie of the tournament would actually favour the Milan side, because of their tactical strength.

Milan started off in attacking style, probably wanting to capitalise on Barca's characteristic slow starts. It paid off, as Gilardino hit the post, and Puyol having to clear the ball in penalty area with his knee. Milan had a gameplan, and played it to perfection. Barcelona thrive on space, and Milan cut that out. And they cut out Barca possession time too. Gattuso was excellent, winning balls in the the midfield with remarkable ease. Milan's left flank was very active, with Serginho making deep runs, with good assists from Seedorf.

In the first half hour, Barcelona had a couple of chances, though none was dangerous enough to cause panic at the San Siro. Eto'o was surprisingly off-colour, wasting a few good chances. Around that time, Barcelona started waking up. Iniesta was good, winning possession for his team in the midfield, however Milan ended the first half stronger, though they did not have anything on the scoresheet to show for it.

The second half saw Milan give Barca more space. Wave after wave of Barca attack was arrested by the Milan defence. And then, the inevitable happened. Barcelona strung together a hundred passes, with Ronaldinho orchestrating it, playing in the central midfield. Crosses went to either side, and finally Ronaldinho picked out Giuly, and the Frenchman found himself at the end of a well-measured chip. With Kaladze and Nesta in front, Giuly rushed past a diving Nesta and beat Dida at the near post. Barcelona were ecstatic. They had done the improbable, especially given Milan dominance in the first half.

Once in the lead, Barcelona played fantastic football, the kind that propelled them to the Spanish title last season. Milan, surprisingly, seemed dazed, and their football lacked inspiration. Ronaldinho could have doubled the lead for the visitors, but his shot hit the inside of the upright and rolled across the face of the goal. A good save from Dida off Iniesta (who orchestrated a splendid one-two with Edmilson) meant that Milan go to the Camp Nou with just the one-goal deficit. That game, a week from today, should be a definite treat, for Milan, the wounded tigers, beaten at home in a European game for the first time in so many years, will want to inflict defeat in front of 98000+ spectators. As Carlo Ancelotti said after the game, "They have done it, beating us at home. So, we should be able to do it too."

Tonight

Arsenal welcome Villareal for the last European night at Highbury. Villareal look depleted, with both their central defenders out, as also is their first-choice stopper. Arsenal look the stronger side.

Men to watch: Thierry Henry, Francesc Fabregas, Juan Roman Riquelme, Diego Forlan.

6 Comments:

Blogger Eshwar S said...

I didn't get to watch this match. But I agree that Ronaldinho is a living legend. A few months back I saw Barca vs Madrid and he just mesmerized the Madrid defenders. He dribbling skills are amazing.

There isn't a defender that can match up with him. Milan is the best defensive team in the world in my opinion. If he gave guys like Alesandro Nesta, Stam, and Maldini (I think age is catching up with him too) a hard time, then I think nothing much can be done by anyone else. No points for guessing who the next world champion will be ;-)

4/19/2006 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger Toufeeq said...

Being a Rossoneri fan from the 1990's I have to say it was a very disappointing game.Clerance Seedorf should never have figured in the starting line-up.Every time he found the ball at his feet he fumbled.Ancelotti made a big mistake playing Seedorf for the full 90.

Also, Pippo was missing due to a flu.Cafu had just got back from a injury,Maldini is aeging and is just back from a injury.Kaka was not playing a ceentral role, he did during the later part of the match and proved really effective.All in all it was a poor show by the rossoneri.Here's hoping they have better luck next time.

4/19/2006 10:10:00 PM  
Blogger Selva said...

I missed that match...good that u wrote on it. I need a lot of catching up to do in terms of the players at least before the world cup begins

4/20/2006 02:40:00 AM  
Blogger Vinayak said...

I have to say that Ronaldinho is probably (not probably....he is!) the best footballer in the world right now. This game was proof enough.

4/20/2006 03:43:00 AM  
Blogger sainathkm said...

I am predicting a Barca Vs Arsenal Final...

4/20/2006 03:43:00 AM  
Blogger Arun said...

Heck, that match was an embarassment. But u don't seem to have updated the blog after that. We all know Barca won the Cl after the final witth Arsenal. I'll be honoured if u get to know my blog wr i have all Milan stuff:)

6/02/2006 08:15:00 AM  

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