Mustapha "El Loco" Kamaruddin knows that Milan had Barca's number at the San Siro but Messi & Co. need to produce magic in the return leg to survive the Champions League
Lionel Messi's body language after Barcelona's stunning 2-0 defeat to AC Milan the Champions League said it all.
The Argentine magician was deeply frustrated.
The 25-year-old and four-time World Footballer of the Year just hates losing. It was clear in the manner he walked out of the pitch; he was a dejected man while the Milan players and supporters jumped for joy.
Messi, who has been breaking all sorts of scoring records in recent times, was heavily subdued in the match at the San Siro where he only managed two shots on goal. What’s worse is that both were well off-target.
There were no magical moments from him. This was perhaps his worst performance in three years.
Milan were tactically disciplined in defence and had at least two men marking Messi, forcing him to play from deep.
All credit goes to Milan and it must be said that they deserved to get this sensational result against the competition's favourites.
It looked like the plans of the Milan manager, Massimiliano Allegri, was to limit Messi's ability to move by closely surrounding him with two or three defenders.
The tactic worked!
Messi started well, but when he found out he could not get through the Milan ‘maze’ he became frustrated and made mistakes.
With Messi almost out of the picture, Barca's other two magicians, Andres Iniesta and Xavi, also could not help their cause despite having all the possession.
Milan’s rock-solid defence was simply impenetrable. Goalkeeper Christian Abbiati was a mere spectator as he only saw action on only two or three occasions.
Anyway, it is not such a big secret by now that the way to beat Barca is to just 'park the bus' - preventing the opposition’s offence by playing many players behind the ball with limited or no attacking play.
But it still takes a very well-organised and disciplined defensive backline to prevent Barca from scoring.
The majority of Barca's goals come from inside the box.
But when faced with the eight or nine men behind the ball in European matches against Inter Milan, Chelsea, Celtic and now Milan, their unwillingness to shoot from outside the box has only harmed themselves.
It will be a pretty difficult task for Messi & Co. to turn the tables on Milan in the return leg at Nou Camp next month.
Barca can get the goals just like they have been doing this season but the discouraging factor is that they have also been conceding.
Assistant manager Jordi Roura admitted that the 2-0 loss is a bad result but he has complete confidence in his team to turn things around.
“We’re convinced that we’ll make it through to the next round in Barcelona. We’re playing at home, the people will support us and the pitch will be in optimal condition,” Roura said.
The bottom line is that Messi and Barca must reproduce their magic to stand a chance of squeezing into the last eight.