A two goal Lead at the Camp Nou for a young team was never a given and while the loss is not the end of the World, it is still difficult.
Sorry for the delayed post but takes time to wade through the five stages of grief and finally get to acceptance. I will be the first to admit I want this win so bad I could taste it, scalping the Barca dynasty with a team in the making. Youthful exuberance and efficient team building to defeat the powerhouse a Milan to remember. The reality is that the youthful exuberance and work in progress team building was still on display on this night and while the loss hurts us as fans the most, the players will learn from such an experience.
Conceding early was sort of worst case scenario as the team would be under tremendous yet after the Messi goal it appeared the team realized they would be OK. Barcelona had changed their game plan significantly protecting their flanks a bit more and Milan seemed to answer the tactical move. The defining moment for me however came soon thereafter, as this young team showed their age and what it means in a match such as this one. Had Niang buried his chance off the post the game is immediatly changed, Barcelona must open further and Milan can breath a sigh of relief. That miss was devasting and while Niang showed his maturity and said it didn't effect him, it effected everyone and gave Barcelona the resolve to press on, and press on they did.
From that point it seemed Milan had their lost and what appeared as a cohesive game plan unraveled before over eyes and with each passing minute the team grew less patient and more radical in their movement exposing themselves to Barcelona's constant threat on the ball and proving unable to manage the pressing. Heroes from the previous encounter struggled to make their marks with Ambrosini trying and failing, and Constant reminding all of his yet again that he is not a left fullback. On a night where an average performance may have seen us through the players failed even to execute average and their memorable night but two weeks ago will fade in memory.
Not for me, for those who believed this year was to restrengthen and rebuild the CL run merely gravy on a season that has gone better than expected. For the Couch Coaches in the bunch, they will begin a campaign of hindsight bias and I told you so's to stoke the masses and continue the campaign to spend more money and bring on a new Coach. Avoid the noise, because they fail to see the progress this team has made along the way and while this lost stings for a moment, it will be a learning experience for each and every player involved. El Sharaawy who has been stellar all season long and couldn't do a thing last night will remember. Niang will not forge his miss and make amends, and Monty's face above says it all though it is not his first failure.
This loss can break the camel's back and see us drop points in the league or it can act as a catalyst to focus and continue to climb table and assure that next year this team, this Coach, this Club, and these fans have another chance at CL glory. It hurts now, defeat when victory was so close always does, but this is not as bad as Istanbul or the debacle at Deportivo, keep calm and have faith in AC Milan.