Antonio Nocerino of AC Milan and Alexis Sanchez of FC Barcelona compete for the ball during the UEFA Champions League group H match between AC Milan and FC Barcelona at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium in Milan, Italy. The play in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals on March 28, 2012. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

UEFA Champions League: No Goals In Barcelona-Milan, But Bayern Munich Beat Marseille

Barcelona and AC Milan couldn't manage a goal despite plenty of chances so they will head to the Camp Nou scoreless, but Bayern Munich are sitting pretty after a 2-0 win at Marseille.

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AC Milan Vs. Barcelona, 2012 Champions League: Barcelona Submit Formal Complaint Over Pitch

Barcelona failed to win the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal against AC Milan and, well, they're not very happy about it. Although the defending champions played fairly well, they weren't at their best and Milan were full value for the 0-0 draw, meaning that Pep Guardiola's side have failed to score an away goal in a knockout fixture for the first time ever.

So they're blaming the pitch:

FC Barcelona has lodged a complaint with UEFA over the state of the pitch at the Giuseppe Meazza (San Siro) stadium during the Champions League match.

While Barcelona may have had a point - the turf at the San Siro has been rather notoriously awful this year, and it's probably not a coincidence that it's been in particular poor condition whenever Milan have had to deal with passing-heavy sides - it's difficult not to see this as the Catalans not just being sore losers (draw-ers?). Barca give the impression that they simply expect the opposition to accept that Barcelona's way is the true way and not do anything about stopping them. That might be unfair, but since UEFA are highly unlikely to do anything about Wednesday's events, kicking up a public fuss about it is ultimately counterproductive.

Barcelona and AC Milan fought out a scoreless draw on Wednesday at the San Siro. For more on the two sides, check out Barca Blaugranes and the AC Milan Offside.


Marseille Vs. Bayern Munich, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Germans In Control After 2-0 Win

Bayern Munich look well on their way to a tantalizing UEFA Champions League semifinal tie against Real Madrid. The German club defeated Olympique Marseille, 2-0, in the first leg of their quarterfinal tie on Wednesday thanks to goals by Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben, putting them in complete control as they head back to the Allianz Arena for the second leg.

It was actually Marseille who almost struck early, but Manuel Neuer was there to make a tremendous save on a Stephane Mbia header. When the rebound fell to Loic Remy in front, he disappointingly blasted it into the side netting and Marseille's best chance was gone.

That Remy miss proved to be vital, but maybe not as vital as a referee's decision. Phillip Lahm handled a Marseille pass, but it went uncalled by the referee. He quickly turned it into a Bayern attack, too, and eventually Robben slipped Gomez in for a clinical finish. Controversial or not, the Germans were up, 1-0.

Neuer's save on Mbia wasn't the only time he was called into action. He made a few other nice saves and kept Marseille scoreless, and then in the 69th minute Robben put the tie to bed. The Dutchman put the Marseille defense on their heels before a beautiful one-two. Robben passed to Thomas Muller, who chipped the ball perfectly for Robben's run. A delicate first touch and cool finish to the far post was all it took and Bayern were on cruise control.

Neither Bayern Munich nor Marseille will be particularly happy with the way they played, but Marseille is just not a good team right now so Bayern didn't have to be good to win. Even Bastian Schweinsteiger's late yellow card, which will keep him out of the return leg, won't matter too much. Bayern are staring down the semifinals, where Real Madrid will likely await them. Let the drooling commence.

We'll have constant updates during this match in our UEFA Champions League Wednesday StoryStream. For more on Bayern, head over to Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works.


AC Milan Vs. Barcelona, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Final Score, Rossoneri Hold Blaugrana Scoreless

AC Milan will still be underdogs when they head to the Camp Nou, but they have done enough to deny Barcelona an away goal and give themselves a chance to advance to the UEFA Champions League semifinals. Milan couldn't create a goal themselves, but they defended brilliantly to hold on for a 0-0 draw.

The first half was a bit more eventful than the second, with Milan having more chances to score. Robinho had a terrible miss in the 2nd minute with a shanked volley, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic made a mess of a clear chance in the 20th minute for Milan. Barcelona had a couple of great opportunities, but some good goalkeeping by Christian Abbiati kept Barcelona off the scoreboard, along with one spectacular clearance by Luca Antonini on a 35th minute Alexis Sanchez breakaway.

The first half got off to a bad start for Milan, as Robinho picked up an injury in a challenge with Javier Mascherano in the 51st minute. He came back onto the pitch and attempted to run it off, but he was unable to continue. Stephan El Shaarawy came on to replace him.

Milan had an excellent spell of possession in the 57th minute and looked like they were going to at least challenge Victor Valdes, but no one was able to pull the trigger. Both Andres Nocerino and Ibrahimovic had great shooting opportunities, but opted to pass when they should have shot. Barca eventually won the ball back and sent Lionel Messi out on the counter. Alessandro Nesta stopped him from getting into a shooting position the only way he knew how.


In the 66th minute, Urby Emmanuelson came on for a tired-looking Kevin-Prince Boateng. It took just one minute for him to absolutely blow a golden chance. Ibrahimovic played him through on goal with a stunning through ball, but Emmanuelson somehow took a touch away from the goal that instantly took away a shooting chance, even though he was clearly one-on-one with Valdes. It was a touch almost too poor to be believed.

In the 74th minute, Milan had to take off Nesta, who was limping noticeably. With no true central defenders on teh bench, everyone watched in horror as Djamel Mesbah -- the goat of the 3-0 loss to Arsenal -- came on to the pitch. Daniele Bonera moved to the center of defense and Luca Antonini moved to right back.

While Mesbah didn't exactly do anything to improve his reputation, Antonini's move to right back turned out to be crucial. In the 87th minute, he made a fantastic clearance, denying Cristian Tello what would have been a game-winning goal.


This is the first time in nine games in all competitions that Lionel Messi has failed to score, and it is the first time in Pep Guardiola's tenure as Barcelona manager that he has failed to get an away goal in a Champions League knockout stage tie.

You can find all of our coverage from the day's games in our UEFA Champions League Wednesday StoryStream. For more on the two teams, head over to Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes and The AC Milan Offside.


AC Milan Vs. Barcelona, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Nesta Injured, Replaced By Mesbah

Oof, that's another injury blow for AC Milan. Alessandro Nesta is off for reasons that aren't entirely clear but definitely aren't tactical, because it's not-very-defensive fullback Djamel Mesbah who replaces him. Barcelona are difficult enough to beat at full strength, but Milan have now been forced into two injury-related substitutions and have none left to play with.

Barcelona do have subs left - Pedro is on for the impressive Alexis Sanchez. The visitors instantly go on the attack, and Cristian Tello combines with Lionel Messi to free up the latter near the penalty spot. A goal looks imminent until a wonderful block by Massimo Ambrosini deflects the ball behind for a corner. Carles Puyol nearly puts the ball in the back of the net from said corner with a quite wonderful diving header, but the ball trickles just wide of Christian Abbiati's far post with the goalkeeper helpless. Still 0-0, about ten minutes plus stoppages to go.

Follow Milan and Barcelona live in this story stream as we constantly update you with the latest news from both Champions League quarterfinal matches today. For more on the hosts, visit AC Milan Offside, and for the visitors check out Barca Blaugranes.


AC Milan Vs. Barcelona, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Robinho Injury Forces Substition

Bad news for AC Milan - Robinho's managed to hurt himself and he won't be able to carry on. The Brazilian went down under a tackle from Javier Mascherano and was widely mocked by pretty much everyone for rolling around in pain after what looked like a pretty tame challenge, but the magical spray didn't fix him and it turns out he's actually hurt. I hope you bullies feel good about yourselves. Not really sure what's wrong with him though.

Anyway, Stephan El-Shaarawy comes on to replace the stricken striker. Does the youngster have what it takes to get Milan on the scoresheet? Probably not, but Milan can hope. They do look like they have a shot of beating Barcelona here, which would be a superb result, but they've wasted too many chances (including one by Robinho in the first minute) for their own good. Right now, their attacking play mostly appears to consist of Zlatan Ibrahimovic being offside.

We'll have constant updates during this match in our UEFA Champions League Wednesday StoryStream. For more on the two teams, head over to Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes and The AC Milan Offside.


AC Milan Vs. Barcelona, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Game Underway, Milan Blow Early Chances

We're off and running at the San Siro, where AC Milan are taking on Barcelona in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarterfinals. Milan have never lost a home quarterfinal in the CL, and so far things are looking pretty good for the hosts. They're putting significant pressure on Barcelona's back line and are forcing their guests into some crazy mistakes. It's something of a miracle (from Barca's standpoint) that Milan aren't already ahead.

A mistake from Javier Mascherano ended up gifting Kevin-Prince Boateng with a free shot on goal from 16 yards, but the Nigerian hesitated and saw his drive blocked. Seconds later, Zlatan Ibrahimovic managed to send in a header that released Robinho one on one against Victor Valdes, but the Brazilian skied his effort harmlessly over when you'd have put money on him to bury it. I have no idea how he failed to score there.

Barcelona are doing some attacking of their own, and Lionel Messi has given Milan a scare with a driving cross before winning a free kick at the edge of the box, but the home side have had the better chances early. Let's see what Barca make of this set piece though...

Follow Milan and Barcelona live in this story stream as we constantly update you with the latest news from both Champions League quarterfinal matches today. For more on the hosts, visit AC Milan Offside, and for the visitors check out Barca Blaugranes.


AC Milan Vs. Barcelona, 2012 Champions League: Write Off Milan At Your Peril

AC Milan's victory over Arsenal in the last round of the UEFA Champions League is a quarterfinal tie against Barcelona. That's generally been a death sentence for European teams - in the last three seasons the only side that's been able to get past the Catalans has been Inter Milan under Jose Mourinho. Barcelona are favourites in this tie and the smart money is probably on them winning the whole thing, and that means that Milan are being written off in advance.

If you're a Milan fan, that must be frustrating. The Rossoneri are a genuinely good side. They won the Scudetto in the 2010/11 season. They absolutely annihilated Arsenal in the first leg of their knockout-round tie, winning 4-0 at the San Siro, and lest anyone forget, they've already played Barcelona this season, losing 5-4 on aggregate but earning a 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou in the process. They're too good a team to simply write off here, and Gianfranco at the AC Milan Offside is frustrated that the world at large is doing just that.

[In] the first CL final I remember, I had to listen to pundits laud Cruyff's Barca and that Milan had no chance. I had to hear how Milan couldn't compete because Baresi was out injured or that our team couldn't handle the free flowing football. Now, seventeen years later it is the same old song and dance. Silva is hurt probably won't play, Milan is to old and slow to compete. Don't you think people would learn a bit from history? I am not saying it is going to be easy, in fact I am not even saying it is possible, but I sure as hell am not going to roll over and concede this tie

Milan aren't favourites, or anything particularly close, but there's no reason that they'll fold like APOEL Nicosia did against Real Madrid. The last time Barcelona went to the San Siro in a knockout game, they were beaten 3-1 by unfancied Inter and then eliminated in the reverse fixture. Can we honestly say that there's no way Milan can do the same?

We'll have live coverage of the game in our UEFA Champions League Wednesday StoryStream. For more on the two teams, head over to Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes and The AC Milan Offside.


AC Milan Vs. Barcelona, UEFA 2012 Champions League: Barcelona Must Take Milan Seriously

Are Barcelona really the best team in the world? For some, that sort of claim rings inherently false - the defending European champions don't even appear to be the best team in Spain. They're nowhere near Real Madrid in La Liga, so how can they really be the world's best?

In response, the easy answer is that the dropped points in the league aren't an accurate reflection of Barcelona's talent, and that perhaps the team as a whole is a little bit jaded. Motivation, apparently, is the key to explaining their lack of form against the smaller clubs, the one Jose Mourinho's Madrid are routinely annihilating. Barcelona's play in the big matches are cited as evidence that they're essentially the unstoppable force we've gotten used to over the last few seasons. All they need is to care.

That's the view Arron Duckling over at Barca Blaugranes subscribes to, and that means that he believes Pep Guardiola has a critically important role in the match. He needs to get his side to treat UEFA Champions League quarterfinal opponents AC Milan seriously at the San Siro in order to get Barcelona to produce the sort of football that can kill off the tie in the first leg:

Clearly, Pep feels that motivation is the issue, and his quotes in the pre-match press conference hint to me that he wants the team to send him a message tomorrow. As per usual, he will give out the ingredients for success; it’s down to the players to cook up a treat on the San Siro pitch. With the title race becoming a factor once again, it would be so easy for the players to get carried away with their own hype. Even though they have been playing badly over the course of the season, they are still in with a shout of winning the title, surely they can get away with an average performance here and there?

Not so, Pep says "the only sure thing is that if we don't play two extraordinary games we won't make it to the semi-final". Once again, I agree totally, but I have faith in the team. They have been in this situation plenty of times before, they know what it will take, and I think they will deliver.

In all probability, Barcelona will deliver. Their domestic form could be better, it's true, but they absolutely demolished a good side in Bayer Leverkusen in the Round of 16, and there's no reason to think they can't beat Milan today. It's simply a question of whether the Serie A leaders can keep it close for later.

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