Claudio Villa

AC Milan vs. Barcelona, 2013 UEFA Champions League: Rossoneri grab famous 2-0 win

There were unbelievable scenes at the San Siro on Wednesday night, where AC Milan have stunned Barcelona, defeating them 2-0. Kevin Prince-Boateng and Sulley Muntari were the unlikely goal-scorers.

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Shifting standards in the Champions League

Talk of a pendulum swing away from the Premier League is misguided; a far more subtle shift is altering Europe’s power dynamic.

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Barcelona have only themselves to blame

As good as AC Milan were last night at the San Siro, Barcelona were even more awful. It might have been one of the worst performances from the club in years and it's left them in a lurch going into the second leg.

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On Barcelona's surprisingly poor play

In a rare display of inept attacking play, Barcelona failed to create space and try incisive passes against AC Milan.

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Let's talk it out: Why Milan beat Barca

Four of SB Nation Soccer's contributors sat down and had a chat about what went wrong for Barcelona, as well as what went right for AC Milan on Wednesday night.

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Blaugrana stunned at San Siro

An off-colour Barcelona were undone by a wonderful display from AC Milan, who rode goals from Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari to hand their visitors a 2-0 away loss in the first round of their Champions League knockout tie.

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Muntari gives Milan a stunning 2-0 lead

Barcelona are in a bit of trouble now.

AC Milan lead 2-0 in the 81st minute after some poor defending has allowed the home side to open up a completely unexpected lead.

M'baye Niang started it for Milan pressuring Carles Puyol on a ball on down the right side. Puyol stumbled backwards and Niang settled the ball, finding Stephan El Shaarawy to his left with a quick pass. Shaarawy wasted no time chipping the ball over the defense to Sully Muntari who volleyed a low shot into the back of the net.

Wonderful play by Milan and the San Siro is going bonkers as it appears that Milan will be heading to Spain with a massive 2-goal advantage. Of course, this is still Barcelona and there's still time for them to get an important away goal. No matter what happens, it's been a tremendous performance by Milan in a match nobody have them a chance to get a result from.

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Barcelona have no answers for Milan at the moment

The Kevin Prince Boateng goal succeded in firing up the San Siro crowd and ensuring that Milan would be parking their bus even deeper in front of their goal. It also appeared to fire up Barcelona but that didn't immediately translate into better play. Barca remained sloppy with their possession and continued to give the ball away cheaply on the attack.

Play stopped momentarily in the 66th minute after Giampaolo Pazzini and Carles Puyol collided awkwardly in the midfield. Puyol was probably luck that they both went down in pain because there's a real chance of Pazzini breaking free on goal if he'd managed to stay on his feet.

Barcelona piled on more and more pressure but they continued to be completely ineffective at doing anything remotely dangerous with it. Everybody has a bad game from time to time but to see so many Barcelona players having bad games at the same time is rare. Lionel Messi has been virtually invisible, Andres Iniesta hasn't been a factor and don't even get me started on Alexis Sanchez.

Iniesta did finally do something positive in the 76th minute, playing a nice one-two on the edge of the box before hammering a shot just wide of the Milan goal. That's the closest Barcelona have come all game.

It's a confusing performance to say the least and while Milan deserve plenty of credit, Barcelona have been about as awful as I've seen then in the past few years.

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Milan leads on a controversial goal

More defensive work from Milan and more un-utilized possession from Barcelona at the start of the second half. Within minutes of the whistle, Milan had ten out-field players within 30-yards of their goal and just like the first half, it was all about staying organized and not allowing space for Barca to exploit.

While Barca is certainly trying it's a testament to Milan that they're making them look so poor, compared to their normal high level of performance.

Sergio Busquets picked up a yellow card in the 54th minute for a hard tackle on Giampaolo Pazzini. Busquets appeared to injury himself on the tackle...that or he was trying to con his way out of a booking.

MIlan turned the game on its head in the 56th minute after earning a free kick outside the Barcelona box. The initial set piece was sent right to Philippe Mexes who cannoned a shot into the box that deflected off a Barcelona player, then clearly off Christian Zapata's arm, before falling right to Kevin-Prince Boateng who beat Victor Valdés to put Milan up 1-0.

It was a clear handball by Zapata that led to the goal and despite the furious protest of Barcelona players, referee Craig Thompson refused to change his mind and the goal stood.

Suddenly things are interesting at the San Siro.

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It's scoreless at halfime between Milan and Barca

It certainly wasn't the most exciting 45 minute of play you've likely ever seen but no one from AC Milan will be complaining. The home side did an excellent job frustrating Barcelona's attack and headed to the locker room with the match scoreless.

Barcelona started off the match a bit sloppy but as the minutes ticked away, their usual massive possession advantage started to be the norm. Despite having a lot of the ball though, Milan did an excellent job of staying defensively organized and being intelligently aggressive, frustrating Barca's attempts to break through in the final third.

As the match crept towards halftime, Barcelona began to press Milan deeper and deeper into their defensive zone as they began to get closer to unlocking the Milan defense.

In the 36th minute Milan again came extremely close to threatening Victor Valdés when Kevin-Prince Boateng sent a well placed low cross into the center of the Barca box for a charging Stephan El Shaarawy. The young striker fully extended with a lunge of his foot but just missed being able to get on the end of the pass.

Hopefully the excitement level will pick up a bit in the second half.

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Milan are up to the task through 30 minutes

AC Milan had a golden opportunity in the 16th minute when Stephan El Shaarawy raced down the left side into the Barcelona area. His run was undone by a really poor touch that allowed Carles Puyol to recover and clear the ball out for a corner. Kevin-Prince Boateng got some space on the corner and flicked the ball on just wide of the far post. Two good chances for Milan wasted.

Barcelona's first good chance on goal came in the 20th minute when Lionel Messi rolled a ball to Xavi who uncorked a curling shot from 30+ yards that was on target for the top left corner. Christian Abbiati saw the shot the whole way and make a nice catch, but it was a much closer chance in the end that it appeared it would be when it initially left Xavi's foot.

Philippe Mexes earned the first yellow card on the match in the 24th minute for a professional foul on Lionel Messi.

Still 60 minutes left to play but Massimiliano Allegri will likely be pleased with his team's performance so far.

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All quiet at the San Siro so far

Barcelona got off to a bit of sloppy start but quickly settled into their usual possessive selves. AC Milan were pressing Barca when they had the ball and taking a few speculative long balls to test how organized the defense was.

Barca's inability to efficiently clear the ball led to a speculative chance from MIlan's Sulley Muntari. The ball dropped in front of the former Inter player and he took a looping volley that went well over Victor Valdés' net.

Certainly not the most scintillating soccer in the first ten minutes but Barcelona were in no hurry to make a mistake and gift Milan anything. Thing picked up a bit when Barca side got back-to-back corners in the 10th minute but failed to threaten Milan's defense too much with either set piece. Gerard Piqué did get a header off on the second corner but it was blocked away by Milan and led to a counter attack chance for the Rossoneri.

In the 11th minute, Dani Alves sent a cross into the Milan box that was headed by defender Philippe Mexes who spun around in fear after making contact, thinking he might have scored an own goal. Fortunately for Milan, the ball went wide of the goal.

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A.C. Milan vs. Barcelona: Lineups

AC Milan line up largely as expected to cope with their injury problems, with the back four the one named by Massimiliano Allegri in his press conference several days ago, and Massimo Ambrosini and Sulley Muntari coming in for the injured Antonio Nocerino and Mathieu Flamini. Stephan El Shaarawy has been declared fit to start for the Rossoneri.

Barcelona's starting lineup, meanwhile, is also as expected. Lionel Messi spearheads the attack in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Pedro the attacking trident behind him, while Xavi returns to the first-team after missing several games with a hamstring injury, partnering Sergio Busquets in midfield.

A.C. Milan (4-3-3): Christian Abbiati; Ignazio Abate, Philippe Mexes, Cristian Zapata, Kevin Constant; Riccardo Montolivo, Massimo Ambrosini, Sulley Muntari; Kevin-Prince Boateng, Stephan El Shaarawy, Giampaolo Pazzini.

Barcelona (4-2-3-1): Victor Valdes; Daniel Alves, Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Xavi; Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Pedro; Lionel Messi.

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Barcelona travel to take on injury-plagued Milan

A.C. Milan are ravaged with injuries, but will have to find a way of getting a good result in their home leg against Barcelona at the San Siro.

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Milan brace themselves for a Barcelona barrage

League position would suggest that AC Milan aren't even in the top three teams in Italy, let alone close to competing with the world's best side. With a lengthy injury list, things could get messy.

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Can Barcelona play without Xavi?

There's not doubt Xavi Hernandez makes Barcelona better, but with the midfielder having missed that last couple weeks with a hamstring injury, it got me thinking about how different Barca look statistically with him on the pitch.

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