Ibrahimovic vs. Messi: Who Won at the San Siro and Why

Michael Cummings@MikeCummings37World Football Lead WriterMarch 28, 2012

Ibrahimovic vs. Messi: Who Won at the San Siro and Why

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    Barcelona wasn't big enough for the both of them.

    And on Wednesday night, Zlatan Ibrahimovic had the chance to show Lionel Messi up.

    Did he do it? Read on to find out how we scored the duel between the star strikers from AC Milan and Barcelona.

    And by all means, add your thoughts to the comments.

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For Ibrahimovic

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    Ibrahimovic spurned what might have been the best chance of the game—if Robinho's early miss wasn't an even better chance and a worse miss—but played well nonetheless.

    Midway through the first half, Ibra raced onto a gorgeous, angled through-ball from Milan midfielder Clarence Seedorf. Ibra's run was excellent, diagonal into the heart of the Barca defense to neutralize Carles Puyol, but his finish was poor. Victor Valdes easily saved the low shot.

    A few minutes later, Ibrahimovic set up Kevin-Prince Boateng for a decent chance at the edge of the box after collecting a loose ball. Boateng missed, but Ibra's awareness and final pass were excellent.

    In the second half, however, the big Swede's positioning wasn't as strong. He was whistled for offside twice early in the half and struggled to exert his influence the rest of the way.

    Verdict: Ibra didn't score, but he worked himself into good positions in the first half and regularly contributed to Milan's attack. He struggled in the second half, but so did both teams.

For Messi

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    Messi was, as usual, the most creative and dangerous player on the pitch.

    In the seventh minute, Messi fluffed a free kick after slipping on the pitch, but he still almost set up a goal. The ball fell to Seydou Keita, who somehow headed the ball wide from close range—only to be ruled offside anyway.

    Messi then put ball in the net in the 18th minute after tapping in Dani Alves' cross/shot. But Messi was ruled offside in what was a correct decision.

    Later in the half, Messi set up Xavi for a shot with a nifty one-two inside the box. Then, in the 35th minute, his shot nicked off Alexis Sanchez and blooped harmlessly through the air to Milan keeper Christian Abbiati.

    In the second half, Messi curled a left-footed free kick high and wide of the near post from 27 meters. Later, he created a great chance after a mistake by Djamel Mesbah, but Luca Antonini denied Cristian Tello with a last-gasp block.

    Messi verdict: The Argentine superstar went scoreless for the first time nine games, but he was all over the place.

Verdict

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    The winner has to be Messi. Ibrahimovic played well, especially in the first half, but Messi was the most dangerous man on the field.

    Messi dribbled at Milan's defense, took shots, created chances and generally wreaked havoc as only he can.

    Milan needed an excellent defensive performance to keep him out.