at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Cape Town – I don’t really know what was more tragic during Wednesday night’s Champions League clash between AC Milan and Barcelona at the San Siro.
Was it Barcelona’s custard-coloured kit? Or was it the fact that their supporters blamed AC Milan’s “tactics” for their team’s defeat.
Both were quite ridiculous I suppose, but I think it was the latter that took the cake.
I had the sudden urge for pineapple jelly every time Barca was on the attack. I had fantasies of my childhood, when my pocket money couldn’t walk pass the ready-to-drink custard on the shelves of my local supermarket.
However, blaming a team’s tactics for a well-earned victory is as absurd as still trying to drink that custard past its sell-by date.
I thought Milan were special on one of those extraordinary European nights we all seem to experience at least once every season in the Champions League. It was especially thrilling for people from our continent, as two Ghanaians were on the score sheet.
Lots of people on social networks cried foul, and said Milan spraypainted the same bus Chelsea used in last year’s thrilling semi-final against Barca in the world’s premier club competition.
However, the bus wasn’t just given a crimson shade of red, it was also given a nice pair of mag weels, and a bit of extra grunt under the bonnet.
It was one of the most disciplined defensive performances I have seen in a long time, with the Italian giants brilliantly keeping their shape in the face of some of the greatest passers of a football the world has ever seen.
But it wasn’t just that they sat in front of their penalty area, and waited for Barcelona to launch wave after wave of attack. Chelsea only sat back last season, mostly because they were playing most of the second leg at the Nou Camp with 10 men, and were also successful.
But Milan on Wednesday night pressed the Barcelona attackers and tried to keep the ball when they were in possession. And when they lost the ball, they would make sure that the Spanish side literally walked the ball up field. It was the Catenaccio in all it’s splendour, and with some added steroids.
One of the most astounding stats of the match was that the world’s best footballer, Lionel Messi, had only one touch in Milan’s penalty area – one!
The word Catenaccio literally means “door-bolt” in Italian, and on Wednesday night Barcelona’s struggles against teams who place a massive emphasis on defence was again there for all to see.
Barcelona in full flight is the most glorious sight in football. But sometimes they give off a certain arrogance that they don’t have to adapt their style of play to try and break down the most stubborn of defensive organisations.
Over the last few years the likes of Inter Milan, Chelsea and even minnows Celtic have shown that you can keep Barcelona at bay, without the Catalans trying to switch to Plan B. At the moment, Plan A is still the most graceful sight in football. Unfortunately, it’s becoming as stale as two-week old custard. Time for a different flavour, Barca, and while your at it, a different colour away strip. – Cape Times
TWEET OF THE WEEK
@GaryLineker (The former England legend hits the nail on the head): To be classed as the best ever, this Barca side need to find a way of defeating these tactics. #InterChelseaCelticMilan
WHO TO FOLLOW
@OdemwingieP: Rumour has it Nigerian and West Brom striker Peter Odemwingie is hanging around the Vatican to secure a move as the new Pope…
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