AC Milan beat their heavily favored opponent, FC Barcelona, 2-0 yesterday but the way the rossoneri played was a perfect example of everything that’s wrong with the Champions League knockout round mentality.
We all know that Barcelona is known for their tiki-taka, possession style of football but it’s not often that you see a team of somewhat similar talent drop into their own half as deep as AC Milan did. There were times when Milan’s forwards were making tackles near the six-yard box.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against preventing away goals. After all in a two-legged tie, they hold more weight but to invite the opposition to walk the ball within twenty yards of your goal is ludicrous. Massimiliano Allegri was more lucky than shrewd in his tactics.
This is my biggest gripe about the Champions League knockout round. AC Milan did it yesterday, Chelsea did it last year to win it all and teams will continue to do it until some major tactical revolution comes about but that doesn’t make it entertaining to watch or the safest option.
If Barça was a team that crossed the ball into the box or played with a little more height and width in their attack, Milan wouldn’t have been able to park the bus and hit them with a few counterattacks, two of which ending in goals.
Barcelona probably still would have had 78% of the possession regardless of the tactics used by Milan. It’s what they specialize in but few teams have the confidence to attempt to push Barcelona back into their half when facing them in Europe. However, at some point, teams need to realize sitting back and letting Barça one-touch pass them to death isn’t always a good idea.
I’m not taking anything away from what Milan did. Everyone thought they would be sacrificial lambs for Lionel Messi and the blaugrana on their way to the Champions League final. Now, they are in control of their own destiny.
I just wish the game wasn’t so boring.