Barcelona 2, Milan 2: Lightning Strikes Twice

I have to confess, I tried to be brave going into this match against the defending champions. But the news of Ibra’s injury hit me like a sucker punch, and I honestly felt quite ill at kickoff. But Pato made sure I didn’t suffer long, as he scored a goal in 24.77 seconds, quick as lightning.

After our draw to Lazio on Friday where we floundered for the first 20 minutes, this game was the exact opposite, where we played well and kept Barcelona floundering for the first 20 minutes. Pato’s goal was the 5th fastest goal ever scored in Champions League history, and a direct result of his lightning pace. Barcelona still managed to find a few shots, but they had a hard time finding their usual rhythm. Boateng had a shot from a nice pass by Pato, but was a little overzealous.

In the 19th minute, things started to look like they were going back to expectations when van Bommel was handed a yellow card. Only in a twist of fate, the foul had been Nesta’s on Messi, and van Bommel seems to have been booked for dissent. You had to know then that this was not going to be any ordinary match.

Messi earned more free kicks in this match than Puyol had hair. But between the post and the even more trusty Abbiati, he never scored on any of them. To be fair to him, most of them were not earned by diving.

In the 34th, Kevin Prince Boateng seems to have been injured and subbed off for Ambrosini, I really hope it’s nothing serious. Odd how it was then in the 36th minute that we conceded, on a series of defensive errors that allowed Pedro the shot. 1-1. Then the injury train came to haunt poor Iniesta as he was subbed off in the 39th for Cesc Fabregas. Maybe he injured himself in that obvious dive back in the 35th?

The first half ended, and by that point, I was happy to have only conceded one goal, and thrilled to have Pato’s goal on the board. Our giant white bus of exactly eleven players was parked in the final third of Barca’s area, not even the half. And our quick paced solid passing and great marking in the first 20 minutes or so had given up to 11 defensive players saying prayers to whatever deity they could think of.

But that’s how much of the second half was, too. Plenty of free kicks, fouls, and a few substitutions. David Villa scored in the 50th on a beautiful free kick to put Barca up 2-1. Then he got himself a yellow card for a foul immediately thereafter. Nesta came in and fouled the Chosen One and got himself a yellow card, too. In the 67th, Keita was subbed off for Puyol, and then in the 70th, Alves finally earned a well-deserved yellow card.

Milan left their bus briefly in the 72nd and Seedorf crossed it to Pato for a header, which was saved. Of course, that was the only save Valdes made on the day, as Milan tallied a pathetic 6 shots, 3 on goal. Our defense was kept busy most of the match with Barcelona’s 22 shots, 7 of which were on goal, giving Abbiati 5 very nice saves, thank you very much Abbiati.

In the 78th, van Bommel came off for Aquilani, then in the 84th, Villa came off for Affelay. Nesta had a nice save in the 88th to complete a pretty good day at the office, and then came the tragedy or triumph, depending which side you are on. Milan earned a corner, but Puyol was not happy about the call. So he had some words with an official and may have even shoved him, earning himself a yellow card in the 90th plus 2 minutes. But the brilliance was that Seedorf’s resulting corner was headed in beautifully by our own Thiago Silva. Just like lightning. 2-2 in stoppage time.

"You're going down, Barca boy!"

Barcelona may have kept 75% possession, but with Milan’s 25% possession, we scored the same amount of goals. And we played terribly for most of the match, too. Our passing was sloppy, we parked ourselves deep in their half and showed very little offense whatsoever. But we got a point, same as they did. And they learned that lightning does sometimes strike twice, even if it waits for stoppage time.

This draw was like a win for me, that we could compete with the reigning champs by playing mediocre football. And I take heart in that fact knowing that if we can draw the champs on a bad day for us, then we can definitely beat them on a good day for us. I am proud of our mediocrity tonight, proud of the fact that we never gave up. And now I cannot wait for Barcelona to come to the San Siro in November. Don’t ever discount the team who has won the trophy 7 times. They will always come back for it.

Lastly, on a sad note, it is time to say goodbye to my co-blogger, Jovan. We started this blog together in February, and I for one will miss his football genius and clever wit. Thanks, Jovan, and good luck on your new endeavors!

Barcelona 2, Milan 2: Lightning Strikes Twice Barcelona 2, Milan 2: Lightning Strikes Twice Reviewed by Elaine on 4:20 PM Rating: 5
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