Barcelona vs. AC Milan: 5 Things We Learned
Despite a Gerard Pique own goal after a shot from Kaka, giving Rossoneri fans a brief window of hope, Lionel Messi shut down any possibility of a dramatic comeback by scoring and giving the Blaugrana a 3-1 win at the Camp Nou.
A lot of questions were raised surrounded Milan's initial lineup, so let's quickly dissect what went wrong and what we learned from this pivotal Champions League fixture:
Massimiliano Allegri's Days Might Be Counted
Coach Massimiliano Allegri trudged around on the sideline with his signature grimace after yet another disappointing result for his team.
It has gotten to the point where fans don't even expect a positive result, a dramatic psychological diversion from what supporters of the once proud franchise were used to.
The result itself isn't even an indicator of the situation because it has been far more dire domestically. One must wonder how much longer he'll stick around if Milan fails to pick up a positive result this weekend against bottom of the table Chievo Verona.
The 4-4-1-1 Didn't Work
Only a day before the match, Allegri made the decision to switch from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-1-1, a formation that Milan hasn't played this season.
The reasoning behind it was to follow the formula that worked well for Cesare Prandelli and the Italian national team when facing the Tiki-Taka style of Spain.
This congested midfield saw only two attackers, both of whom had defensive responsibilities, and a midfield line of four to try and quell Barcelona in the middle of the park.
Well, it didn't quite work. Barcelona looked like their usual self and created more than a dozen dangerous opportunities, slicing past Milan's defense and continuing their high pressing, which led to panicky passes from the Rossoneri.
Mario Balotelli Should Have Started from the Beginning
Perhaps the most dramatic news of the day was the unveiling of the formation, which saw Mario Balotelli on the bench in favor of Robinho.
Sure, Robinho had a good partnership with Kaka in the last match against Barcelona, but ask the Spanish giants who they fear most on Milan's roster and they'd all say Mario Balotelli.
Despite being in a scoring slump, Balotelli was subbed in during half time and was an instant factor, making darting runs down the right-wing and giving Adriano a constant headache.
While he'll be suspended domestically for the weekend game against Chievo, he was primed to be the difference maker against Barcelona. Unfortunately. he wasn't given the full 90 minutes to show his talent to the world.
Milan Still Control Their Destiny
It's about time we had a positive slide for Milan, and this is the best I could come up with.
Despite all the negative attention, Milan still are in control of their destiny in the Champions League.
Four rounds in, they're second place in Group H, with a one point advantage over third place Ajax.
The two remaining games still pose a threat, as no match has been a clear-cut victory for Milan this season. The away fixture against Celtic can give problems to anyone, while the last match-day home match against Ajax will be the true decider of who can get out of the group.
Milan Were Decent in Stretches
It's hard for a team to show its collective worth when playing Barcelona at the Camp Nou, considering you only have about a fourth of the match to actually have the ball.
Despite the constant stream of criticism which has pelted the club from every direction, there were a few other positives to take away from the match. Kaka is back, and he continues to be Milan's player of the match every time he plays.
Alongside the Brazilian, Nigel de Jong was excellent in cover, and often times cool in possession, always making the quick decision and picking out the right pass.
It's a shame Balotelli couldn't play from the start, because he was in the mood to do well. Despite getting aggressively fouled right away in the second half, he maintained his composure and was excellent when he had open space in front of him.