Monday, October 21, 2013

Champions League - Milan-Barcelona: The Monster Under the Bed


Just like the fear that most children have of something horrible living under their bed, Milan have a monster that keeps coming back: we keep drawing Barcelona in the Champions League. And just like on a bad night, when the child imagines an even bigger, scarier monster, Tuesday’s matchup seems just that much more intimidating. Despite a morale boost of a win on Saturday, this team is hardly prepared to compete with the current Barcelona squad. But like it or not, face them we must. So brace yourself and say your prayers, because Tuesday we meet the monster under the bed.

A couple of the scariest monsters

Barcelona are on top of their league with 25 points in 9 games. In fact, this weekend, vs. Osasuna, they actually played to a 0-0 draw and dropped their first points of the season. But they are also in a much stronger position than Milan, with Puyol, Mascherano, and Messi all coming back from injury. In fact, Tata Martino will only be missing Affelay, Cuenca, and Jordi Alba. So basically, a monster-sized squad.

The squad that faced Osasuna on Saturday was Valdes; Montoya, Puyol, Bartra, Adriano; Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets; Fabregas, Pedro, and Neymar. And if you are not scared by that lineup, Messi did actually play the last 20 minutes or so, having come off of injury, but will be well rested should he start against Milan tomorrow. However it is Neymar that I dread most. Sure, he is incredibly talented, but he is also even more incredibly sure of himself, and yet eclipsing both the football talent and self-confidence are his acting skills. Let’s hope the German referee knows this and doesn’t let him get away with his usual performances. Speaking of German referees, the fourth official is named Christ. This is not a joke. So let's hope Kak√° has a little influence there.

Like a father consoling a frightened child, only this one concedes goals like a sieve

As if all of this weren’t beastly enough, Milan are feeling even more small and frightened by our monster-sized injury list. It’s not like we’re missing bench players, we are missing so many key starters, like Balotelli, Abbiati, Pazzini, El Shaarawy, De Sciglio, and Bonera. Okay, well mostly starters. Which means that Amelia will be starting in goal. That cannot chase away any fears. However we can draw strength from the fact that both De Jong and Mexes will be available, both having served suspensions on Saturday.

The biggest monster that Milan fear is everyone’s favorite master tactician, Massimiliano Allegri. Last season saw him coach the perfect game against Barcelona. But then our last Champions League foray against Ajax, he got everything wrong. So which Allegri will show up this time? Will he be able to motivate our beleaguered squad into superheroes? Will this ritiro business be enough for our team  to resist Barcelona’s legendary possession and superb quality and maybe even pull off a result? Because even a draw would be a monstrous win to me.

Watch out, Barca we have our own goal scoring monster in Sulley Muntari (image may not be entirely accurate)

For a team who notably falls asleep on the pitch to concede ridiculous goals, I hope Allegri can at least get them to sleep with one eye open. Maybe the monster under the bed is not real, and if Osasuna can hold them to a scoreless draw, then maybe Milan can, too. Even if our worst fears are realized, there can really be no shame in losing to a team who, unlike Milan, are still in one of their strongest cycles. Honestly, I’m still just grateful that we were invited to the party. So while I may not sleep so well tonight, I guess I’m ready to face the monster under the bed… again.


This post inspired by the music of the Monsters, Inc. soundtrack


AC Milan vs. Barcelona
Tuesday, October 22 • 20:45 CEST (2:45 EDT)
This match will be shown on Fox Sports 1 in the U.S.
Check here for stream links ahead of the game


Stay tuned for an all new podcast before the match tomorrow!