Barcelona vs. AC Milan: Why Barca Win Hinges on Lionel Messi

Mathias Ask@@MathiasAskCorrespondent IIMarch 12, 2013

Barcelona vs. AC Milan: Why Barca Win Hinges on Lionel Messi

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    Barcelona will be counting on Lionel Messi to get past AC Milan in the Champions League round of 16.

    The Spanish club is facing an almost insurmountable obstacle on Tuesday. They need three goals to advance, and that’s just if they can keep a clean sheet.

    AC Milan shocked Barcelona at San Siro in the first leg, winning 2-0 despite not being able to field Mario Balotelli.

    The Italians played a perfect defensive game, didn’t allow the Spaniards any room and took advantage of the opportunities they were given to score two goals.

    Superstars such as Xavi and Messi were completely closed down and were unable to dominate their opponents the way we are used to seeing them.

    It was a stunning upset, but also a reminder that Barcelona can be beaten if Messi isn’t allowed to shine.

    That’s why it’s up to him to reverse Barcelona’s ongoing horrible trend. The team has lost three out of their last five games and desperately need to get back on course.

Messi Needs to Figure out How to Score Against Italian Teams in Open Play

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    What if I told you Messi has scored absolutely no goals in open play against Italian teams? 

    As mind-blowing as that sounds, it is true. In nine starts against Italian teams, Messi has three penalty goals and nothing more.

    That’s simply astonishing for a player who is chasing down Raul for the title of greatest goal-scorer in the Champions League.

    Last year, Messi and Barcelona faced AC Milan four times in the Champions League. Barcelona got the better of AC Milan that year, with two victories and two draws.

    Tuesday’s game is a sort of déjà vu, as the two teams squared off in the elimination round last season. That time, Messi was bailed out by two penalty kicks in the second leg at Camp Nou.

    However, he can’t expect AC Milan to be that careless this time around.

    If Rossoneri is going to park the bus, Messi needs to figure out how to score in open play.

    Speaking of parking the bus.

Messi Must Show That He’s Learned a Lesson from Last Year’s Semifinals

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    I apologize to all Barcelona fans for bringing up such horrible memories.

    I’m talking, of course, about the dramatic second leg game against Chelsea.

    With the score 2-1, the Blues entered the second half with no intentions of doing anything but defending.

    Messi and Co. had no response and even ended up conceding a goal in the closing minutes.

    Considering that AC Milan is heading into Camp Nou with a 2-0 advantage, it seems highly unlikely that we are going to see them storm Barca’s penalty box at any point during the game.

    It’s going to be up to Messi to show that he’s able to penetrate that kind of defense.

    If Messi and the rest of the offense remain stale and unaggressive, then Barcelona can kiss their Champions League hopes goodbye.