Tactics Tuesday: Stopping Barca

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 06: Theo Walcott of Arsenal holds off a challenge from Djamel Mesbah of AC Milan during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between Arsenal and AC Milan at Emirates Stadium on March 6, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Forget the fact that Silva's out, Milan beat Barca in the 1994 CL Final sans Baresi. While your at it, find comfort in the fact that Pato is hurt, that means A. he can't get hurt during the match and B. we don't have to watch him flounder around for 90 minutes. What, he scored in the first match against them!? I forgot, my apologies, but he has only scored twice since!? Who is this guy Fernando Torres? Ok, I'm done I promise, but before we got to tactial business I needed a laugh. So how do Milan stop Barcelona? I am going to give three key points.

First one is easy, attack. What better way to exploit a team's weak defense then by attacking. Now I am not talking Arsenal at Emirates attack from a few weeks ago. That is far to risky and leaves us exposed at the back, I am talking quick counter exploit the space attack. Guys like Urby, Nocerino, Prince, Zlatan and El Sharaawi can pounce on that space with tactical intelligence to combine and create chances. Barca is going to have most of the ball, that is inevitable, but when they don't we have to make it count.

Second is winning the midfield. At times Pep's 4-3-3 looks a bit like a 4-3-1-2 or 3-4-3, so the numerical advantage in the midfield is deceiving but at times it's their and Milan need to exploit it. Good tempo and energy should help that

Finally, Milan need to exploit to areas of weakness for Barca. The space between Alves and Pique and the space between Puyol and the LB. For most teams this is a bit of a no man's land but for Barca it is magnified as they press their fullbacks up creating a bit of space in behind and forcing a bit if disruption to cover that area.

Notice how I made no mention of stopping Messi or Xavi, because frankly you can't, nor did I say Milan need possession because you won't have it. I am being realistic here, those guys will probably combine to score, and Milan won't see much of the ball but when they do they need to capitalize. Conceding will be difficult to overturn, but a single goal is not the worst as long as they can score as well! Now onto the lineup:

Abbiati; Antonini, Nesta, Mexes, Mesbah; Urby, Ambro, Nocerino; Prince; El Sharaawi, Zlatan

Have to admit the defense doesn't look awful, but Mesbah is still pretty poor and was shredded against Arsenal. I won't be upset if he doesn't see the pitch in this one because Alves will tear him up. That means Bonera plays RB and Ants back to his left where he can at least keep up with Alves. Midfield is solid, though Van Bommel would be better if fit simply because he is rested and we will need his fresher old man legs, I know oxymoron. Prince is a welcome site, and with Robinho injured I think El Sharaawi's confidence and pace go a long way for Milan in this one. If Milan can score, you can always bring Seedorf on late to morph into a 4-3-2-1 and hold the game, or throw on a fit attacker and hope for the best. Things may change if injury news is better than expected, but that is where I stand for now. See you all Wednesday for the big one!

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