Eight Sides Giving No Quarter

Last week’s Champions League quarterfinal compare between AC Milan and FC Barcelona was historic: For a initial time in 30 Champions League games, Barcelona was hold scoreless for 90 minutes. WSJ’s Jonathan Clegg previews this week’s games. Photo: Getty

Last week’s Champions League quarterfinal compare between AC Milan and FC Barcelona won’t go down as a classic. It wasn’t even a many noted diversion between these dual storied soccer clubs this season.But in one respect, it was officious historic: For a initial time in 30 Champions League games, Barcelona was hold scoreless for 90 minutes.In box we missed it, Milan didn’t indeed win a match, that finished in a goalless draw. But in a universe of European soccer, that qualifies as a unaccompanied feat. Barcelona has been distinguished as a many manly descent organisation of new times and a balletic short-passing attack, famous as “tiki-taka” or “touch-touch,” has turn a complicated game’s bullion standard.In a 8 prior Champions League games this season, Barcelona had scored 30 goals, for a peppery normal of 3.75 goals per game. It beaten a round-of-16 opponent, Bayer Leverkusen, by an sum scoreline of 10-2 and hadn’t unsuccessful to measure in a Champions League compare given a 0-0 pull with Rubin Kazan in Nov 2009.


Barcelona’s Lionel Messi is swarming by AC Milan’s Daniele Bonera in a Champions League initial leg compare on Wednesday.

“There’s a initial time for everything,” pronounced Pep Guardiola, a Barcelona conduct coach. “Milan is happy with a outcome and that is a enrich to us.”How did Milan stop a unstoppable? It helped that a organisation got a superhuman opening from goalkeeper Christian Abbiati, that a officials missed an apparent chastisement for a tainted on Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez and that a personification margin during Milan’s San Siro track looked like it had recently staged a beast lorry derby. (Barcelona subsequently lodged an executive censure with UEFA about a peculiarity of a pitch.)But as Milan prepares to transport to Barcelona on Tuesday in a marquee match-up of this week’s second-leg games, a regulation behind a standout defensive display is one of a tiny subplots that could have a strongest impact on that teams allege to a Champions League’s final four.Here’s a closer demeanour during a factors that could confirm this week’s games:FC Barcelona-AC Milan (First leg: 0-0): Tuesday, 8:45 p.m. cleaning services in los angeles . CESTMilan’s devise in final week’s opening diversion was elementary enough: Block Barcelona’s flitting lanes by flooding a core of a margin with as many players as possible. kitchen benchtops . In soccer terms, this meant backing adult in an radical “narrow” formation, with 5 midfielders in executive positions, instead of a normal fixing that sees dual players stationed out wide.The plan, that was executed to nearby perfection, meant Barcelona couldn’t play a turn by a cloud of players in a core of a field, disrupting a geometric pointing of a flitting game. In total, Milan done 25 interceptions in final week’s diversion compared to only 13 by Barcelona.”From a defensive standpoint, they got their strategy positively mark on,” pronounced Ray Wilkins, a former Milan midfielder and now a soccer analyst.Italian teams have prolonged relied on slight formations to case a opposition’s tip descent talent and this isn’t a initial time a complement has stymied Barcelona. In a 2009-10 season, Inter Milan degraded Barcelona in a Champions League semifinal by patrolling a corner of a possess chastisement area with adequate players to estimate a multitude of a Roman army.Still, there’s a good possibility that Milan’s intrigue could infer reduction effective second time around. The biggest debility of a slight arrangement is that a cluster of players in a core of a margin leaves a organisation exposed on a wings. Given that a Camp Nou representation is 4 meters wider than a San Siro personification surface, Barcelona’s dangerous far-reaching players such as Dani Alves and Pedro could wreak massacre in Tuesday’s game.Bayern Munich-Marseille (First leg: 2-0): Tuesday, 8.45 p.m. CESTOne thing to watch is how Marseille handles Bayern Munich’s quick-strike offense, that uses a rapid brazen line of Franck Ribery, Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben to launch attacks from low inside a possess half.Bayern tranquil a turn for 58% of final week’s 2-0 win in Marseille, though a goals weren’t a outcome of a array of delicately choreographed brief passes. Instead, both Gomez and Robben scored from moves that began inside Bayern’s possess half and concerned fewer than 6 passes.With a responsibility on Marseille to overturn a two-goal necessity on Tuesday, a French organisation faces a dilemma: If a defenders stay low to annul Bayern’s speed, Bayern can take time off a time personification keep-ball. flatpack kitchens . But if Marseille presses high adult a field, Bayern’s track-team offense could infer deadly.”It plays into a hands,” pronounced Philipp Lahm, a Bayern captain. “When we find a bit of space in attack, we always emanate good scoring chances.”Chelsea-SL Benfica (First leg: 1-0): Wednesday, 7.45 p.m. BSTBenfica was one of a surprises of this season’s organisation stage, assisting to discharge long-lived powerhouse Manchester United, before accounting for Zenit St. Petersburg in a turn of 16.The tip to a team’s swell was a liquid formation, in that a expel of clever midfielders seamlessly switched positions, while dual aggressive full-backs supposing crosses for Oscar Cardozo, a 6-foot-4 totem stick adult front.But Chelsea’s 1-0 win in Lisbon final week suggests opponents have figured out ways to difficulty Benfica, privately by exploiting a space vacated by a robbery right-back, Maxi Pereira. Chelsea fielded Salomon Kalou, a forward, on a left wing final Tuesday, while Fernando Torres mostly drifted from his executive aggressive berth over to a left side.The result: Pereira wasn’t means to conflict as openly as usual, depriving Benfica of width, while Chelsea customarily exploited a gaps in Benfica’s invulnerability when he did. Torres and Kalou also total for Chelsea’s goal.Real Madrid-Apoel Nicosia (First leg: 3-0): Wednesday, 8.45 p.m. CESTThe large doubt here isn’t that organisation will win, though by how many?Apoel’s stop-and-block strategy undone Madrid for 74 mins in Cyprus final Wednesday, though once Karim Benzema unbarred a defense, Madrid brought down a battering ram. The Spanish bar scored 3 times in a final 16 mins and competence simply have combined another 3 goals.It was always going to take a spectacle for Apoel to extend a fairytale float in this season’s competition. It would also need a few shots on goal, something a Cypriot bar unsuccessful to grasp final week, while it tranquil a turn for only 21% of a game, a lowest figure in Europe this season.

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