AC Milan vs. Barcelona: Rating the Barcelona Players at the San Siro
Barcelona found a series of seven consecutive wins snapped as they were held to a goalless draw in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal against AC Milan. Poor finishing combined with overgrown grass at the San Siro conspired to ensure that Barcelona will need to put in a very strong shift at the Camp Nou in the return leg to advance to the Champions League semifinals.
Victor Valdes - 6
Let off easily by Robinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic's horrible finishing. Looked shaky in the initial exchanges when he had the ball, which could have proved costly for Barcelona.
Dani Alves - 6.5
Failed to make the most of the ample space that AC Milan allowed him on the right flank with their narrow shape. He was unable to make telling crosses, but was error free in defense. An unremarkable night.
Gerard Pique - 6.5
Found himself unable to cut out the pass which Ibrahimovic latched onto to run clean through on goal, but was otherwise defensively secure. In particular, his aerial ability stood out as Milan resorted to high balls into the box in many exchanges.
Javier Mascherano - 7
Solid at the back and made no perceptible errors. His distribution is improving, and it showed as he was always comfortable when on the ball.
Carles Puyol - 7
Had a good performance in a comparatively unfamiliar role at left back. Cut out many passes and aerial balls with well-timed interceptions, and was solid against the imposing Milan attack.
Sergio Busquets - 6
His misplaced pass in the second minute led to the best chance that Milan had in the entire match. Though he made no major errors after that, his overall performance was quite average.
Xavi - 7
Played higher up the field than he usually does and was assured in possession as he always is. Dictated the pace of the game with trademark authority, but missed a couple of half-chances which brings down his overall rating.
Seydou Keita - 6.5
Solid and reliable in the middle of the park. Though he lacks the ability to pull off something extraordinary, the Malian didn't make any errors or allow Milan's midfield to get too much time on the ball. His excursions down the empty left flank were largely fruitless, however.
Andres Iniesta - 6
His early substitution was justified as his overall performance lacked the silky consistency that we are so used to seeing. Maybe he was hindered by the length of the grass on the San Siro pitch, but he was unable to really pull off anything that would give Barcelona an advantage.
Alexis Sanchez - 6
Troubled the AC Milan defense with his pace and stamina and ability to constantly press, but was wasteful in front of goal. Did brilliantly to create Barcelona's best chance of the game, but squandered it with one touch too many.
Lionel Messi - 7.5
Though he was unable to get onto the scoresheet, Messi still looked the most likely to make anything happen for Barcelona. Had an early goal disallowed for offside and was twice hacked down by Alessandro Nesta on the edge of the box. His slip as he ran to take a free kick highlighted the state of the pitch.
Cristian Tello - 6
Came on for Iniesta early in the second half, and just like the other Barcelona attackers, was guilty of being wasteful on more than one occasion. Used the space well on the left flank, but his runs had no end product. It is only his second European night, however, and he will learn from the experience.
Pedro - 6
Replaced Alexis Sanchez late on. Was on the pitch for only 15 minutes, and was mostly unremarkable.
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