Milan were well-prepared and exceptional, Barca were predictable and indolent - all the rest is commentary. Or put another way, Milan's plan worked and Barcelona didn't have one. Usually, that's fine because their players are so good, but they weren't at it tonight, and without Tito Villanova, no one seemed willing to make the significant changes that might have changed the flow of things. That said, they don't really have the facility to do much beyond swap the players and their positions - how they must wish they had Garry Thompson, eh.
The second leg of this, whenever it is
Gazprom Uefa are allowing it to be played, is going to be quite something. You wouldn't back against Milan to score in the Nou Camp, and if that happens, Barca will need one, two, three and to the fo. But when it's Lionel Messi, Iniesta and Pedro at the do, anything is possible.
Thanks for your company and emails,sorry I couldnae use thum aw. Night-night.
No one knows anything.
90+4 min I ought to have noted that both goals have been scored by ex-Portsmouth players. Apparently Harry Redknapp is also one of the ball girls.
90+3 min Barcelona are trying now, and Messi loses possession as Traore breaks, mates leifing alongside him, but Mascherano dives at his feet and smothers his speculative shot.
90+1 Glenn Kristensen has the fever, as Traore is booked for charging Mascherano - who replaced Puyol. "In the game I've seen Milan have effectively parked the bus and broke effectively. Not knocking it, as there is little point trying to beat barca at their own game, but it's hardly hugely courageous to defend like 11 bulls on steroids and then hope to catch your opponents on the break is it?"
Not panicking, not giving away needless free-kicks and taking chances all point to clear heads under pressure that are a testament to Buster Gonad himself.
I lost track of them min Barcelona are rabbiting forward with a little more urgency now, as we learn that there'll be five minutes of stoppage time.
84 min Shoddy marking from a corner - why on earth would Niang be allocated Puyol - allows Barca a chance, curls meeting ball powerfully but inaccurately. El Shaarawy departs, replaced by Traore. Is that football's most popular family name?
80 min This is some excrement of significance happening right here, and it's no more than Milan deserve. Barcelona have created less than Britain and America combined, while Milan have displayed a monstrous pair of swingers for all the world to see.
What a narcotising rush of goal that was! Milan broke down the right, and Niang calmly controlled a bouncing ball just inside the box by its corner. Looking up he espied El Shaarawy to his left, and teed him up. Defenders drawn towards him, he took a touch to control on his instep, then another with the side of his foot to find Muntari platzing, halishing for a pass - one which he summarily drilled into the bottom corner with minimum fuss and maximum prejudice.
78 min "United would, I think, beat Milan over two legs" speculates Gerard Aston, "but would have no chance against Barca going on past experience. What's that about?"
Styles makes fights, as they say. Barca wouldn't play as listlessly against United, and United don't have the players to do what Milan are doing - there isn't the running or presence in midfield.
Xavi curls a free-kick over the bar from thirty yards, left of centre - I missed its award due to an attack of sneezes.
77 min Petulance's Andres Iniesta dares to venture in off his punishment left-wing and wipes his right foot across a spinning shot that whooshes just wide. On which point, a question: does Dale Steyn ever open the batting?
74 min Barca have a shot! Swear down! Xavi, from 25 yards, introduces laces to leather, but various bodies are powercoaxed in its direction and one of them blocks it.
Meantime, Rai Skrupskis has a lesson for all the MBM lovers out there. "Earth angel, earth angel," he soothes. "Perhaps Barca are just more in touch with their feminine side. Not all foreplay needs to be consummated, you know."
I don't reckon most of us lot knew there was a difference. Still don't, in fact.
72 min "Would it be fair," wonders Simon McMahon, "to say that Milan have (so far) done 'a Celtic' on Barca?"
I'd say not - Celtic outplayed Juve apart from the three goals they accidentally conceded, whereas Milan have been the better side here - Barca have just had more of the ball.
70 min After a corner isn't properly cleared and the ball is returned boxwards, Pazzini controls on protruded thigh, Mark Hughes-style, and rotates into a volley that's accurate, but lacking the power to trouble even Valdes. Puyol, with antiseptic lint on his forehead, returns.
69 min Are continental children taught shrill whistling at school?
66 min Puyol and Pazzini fling foreheads in the direction of a garryowen, and naturally the smaller man comes off worse as Puyol jogs away to reapply his curl cream. There is a break, which reminds me to note thaT once upon a time, Kevin-Prince Boateng's Wikipedia page postulated his addiction to buying baseball caps. I was amazed they make his size.
65 min As the game pulses and throbs like an extended metaphor cliche that's about to get post-watershed, Tim Sheils brings us all back into reality with a dose of Garry Thompson: "Garry. What a legend. Would Messi lodge above a newsagents and help out in the shop?"
No, but - and there is a but - he can play fitba.
64 min Messi larrups a free-kick aeons over the bar, defeating the time-space continuum and inciting the derision of the curva sud. He copes.
63 min Mario Balotelli is a Milan player. Alan Parry just thought you should know. Meanwhile, famed art vandal Cesc Fabregas is replaced by Alexis - he must wish he was still at Arsenal, eh, Glenn.
62 min And there it almost was, Boateng pouncing on a Pique slip, not even stopping to admire his handsomeness, and crossing towards El Shaarawy. But he manages to pick out Puyol, and is consequently forced to mortify his soul with profuse apology.
61 min This sounds odd but there's no reason why Milan can't score again. Barca aren't rocking, but they're not exactly engaged in gainful activity.
Milan win a free-kick, perhaps forty yards from goal, and it's squared to Montolivio, who, arriving from somewhere in Naples, dematerialises a shot goalwards. It then hits the jumping Pazzini, probably on the hand, and next to him, around the edge of the box, Boateng is on-hand to pirouette enpointe his right foot and slap a shot across Valdes into the far corner.
This is a very cunning snap-shot.
55 min Chris Sutcliffe has a re-quest:"I have a wonderful memory of a documentary on Charlie George, can’t remember the channel, broadcast on Boxing Day in the early 70s. There was lots of slo-mo and ballet music. I wish I could find it again, can you ask your readers?"
52 min His name's Gary Naylor and he hates passing: "I've had enough - 45 mins of Barcelona is as much as I can take without nodding off. So excellent... and so dull."
Generally, I see that more an accusation you can chuck at Spain, but yeah, I'll wear it on this evidence. Iniesta seems to be playing slightly more centrally this half, which might make a difference, but had the half-time talk consisted of "get on with it" and a few slaps, we might see a better game. Meanwhile, Pazzini and Busquets jump into one other with the ball somewhere in between, and son of Mr Biscuits is booked.
50 min Milan are continuing to restrict Barca's space, Alves and Pedro attempting a little shimmy and shmy sortie, but El Shaarawy nips in to get in the way, subsequently flicking his hair in appreciation - the equivalent of snooker's table-tap, except self-awarded.
49 min Alistair Short update: watch the subtitles. There'll be a lyrics test at full-time. I advise you pass, else I'm telling Vladimir.
48 min Barcelona have changed formation, and look like they'll play a bit more directly this half. Elsewhere, lions and lambs have been seen in open copulation.
47 min Magnificence alert, with Alistair Shaw. "Gazprom gave the world this," he revelates. That is some quite excellent lunacy.
46 min Kick-off has occurred.
"About watching football to music, my most memorable experience as a Man Utd fan was watching the 99 Champions League Final in a hotel bar in Egypt while a duo - female singer who sounded like Celine Dion being dragged backwards through a thornbush and a male keyboard player who must only have had one finger and a 'bossa nova' rhythm button - screeched away in the corner of the room, directly beneath the bar's only telly with the sound on mute. Still the best football moment of my life though."
So says Martin Gilbert. What other rhythms were on those things? Samba, waltz, and the like. I used to like playing in vibraphoine.
There are more questions than answers, pictures in my mind that will not show. David Goldman takes up the cudgels: "Why do you think Gazprom sponsors anything? They don't sell anything we can buy. The people they can sell to have no choice but to buy it. Any ideas?"
What people with funny hair and clothes call brand recognition, I suppose. I bet they don't like to talk about their charity work.
Half-time adverts. When near-Rome and all that. Who doesnae fancy a Cinzano?
This is what the experts might call a tactically fascinating game, or in other words, there's not much of note taking place. Barcelona are passing lots and Milan are running lots, neither really able to create a clear chance. Milan look the likelier, though, and if they could manage a goal, that would really locate the feline amongst the columba livia. I'll be back in a few to find out.
44 min "What do English players dream about? Flying tackles?" fnarr, fnarrs Paulho Padila.
I'm not sure they're sufficiently repetitive. Not making card-waving gestures, perhaps.
41 min Barcelona are passing and stuff. Basically, they've no variety. What they need is Garry Thompson.
40 min I know El Shaarawy can play, so I'm going to refrain from calling him the new Ruel Fox, but he again contrives to accept a pass with lots of space ahead of him before a combination of revolting touch and malfunctioning radar ruins everything.
37 min "Watching the 2010 Europa league final at my brother's house (who is a Chelsea fan)," recalls Rob Kingston - "the exact moment Forlan's second hit the net in the 116th minute coincides with Roger Daltrey's rock'n'roll defining 'yeah' in Won't Get Fooled again. Never has my emotion conflicted so much with my environment."
I'm brother-deficient, so how does one wind up supporting a different team to one?
35 min Milan are starting to fancy this, Zapata losing possession but Muntari rushing in to retrieve it. He instantly switches the ball wide, and another long, searching cross is only just too long for the sliding El Shaarawy.
33 min If you've ever played too much chess, tetris or backgammon, you'll know that the pieces appear to painted on the back of your eyelids when you finally attempt sleep. Presumably someone knows whether or not Spanish midfielders see passes?
32 min It's in games like this that compromising Iniesta for the sake of Fabregas seems significant folly. With space restricted, the ability to eliminate defenders by running past them is more important than an eye for the killer pass.
30 min Montolivio, Abate and Boateng share some nice passes and friendships along the right, before a diagonal ball is hit towards El Shaarawy - which seems to be what I'm told is called a tactic. It fails.
28 min How do you defend against Messi? My inexpert opinion would be to stop the ball getting to him first, then stop him turning, and only after that, try and defend the box in numbers, crowding him out. But Milan seem to have taken the third option, and are doing it well, a combination of Montolivio and Constant grounding him after he pulls right to find some space.
26 min Milan should be pretty chuffed with how this has gone. While, to paraphrase Winston Wolf, they oughtn't to ... er... indulge each other yet, or anything like yet, Barca have scarcely had a peek at goal. If you'd have offered them 0-0 at this point prior to to kick-off, they'd have took it, as Ryan Giggs would say.
22 min Isaac Jenkins reckons he's redefined misery: "I once watched my team, Sheffield Wednesday, go 3-0 down to the other half of the city in 45 minutes to the soundtrack of a Westlife tribute band. Beat that."
I can't beat it with music, but when Manchester City scored against Manchester United last April, I had Nicky Summerbee wipe his fingers across my face. No coming back from that.
20 min Milan needlessly cede possession in centrefield and Barca switch the ball right, for the haring Alves. But El Shaarawy does his best Alan Smith impression and pursues him like Benjamin Pell on Red Bull, averting the menace.
19 min This is a good little period for Milan, Abate swinging into a booming cross from the right that has Valdes momentarily preparing a flap - but it's too strong for both him and Pazzini.
16 min Now that was clever. The corner is taken semi-short, to Boateng on the left edge of the box, and he lifts up a swinging mid-heighted cross to the back post which deceives the Barcelona defence but is slightly too strong for the various of his team-mates who are in pursuit.
15 min Well, ye cannae be missing those. Boateng receives the ball wide left and on the half-turn, clipping past Puyol for El Shaarawy, inside-left and haring away from the puffing, panting curls. His first touch does the trick, but his second commits immediate self-harm, so strong that it allows Valdes to come out and concede a corner.
13 min Does anyone ever watch football to music? On a visit to Amsterdam, I found myself alone with Man United and Blackburn to a soft-rock soundtrack of Chris Rea, Chris Isaak and ilk, whilst a leather-jacketed patron performed them to my left. Matt Dony is up to half: "I'm doing dutiful husband things and looking after an ill wife rather than watch this shindig, but you've inspired me to play Blood On The Tracks while cooking, so it's still a good evening. (Although, one of music's most famous 'divorce' albums might not help if it turns out I miss a cracker of a match.)
11 min Alves arcs in a cross from the right which forces Ambrosini to can-can a clearance behind, lest the already-stooping Pedro head at goal. But he's exposed his knickers for nowt, because the flag was up for offside.
8 min Ratchet, say Barca, launching into a little flurry of attack. First, Alba crosses from the left and Messi is crowded out, before Messi takes possession outside the box and diddles his man with some no he didn't footwork, before clattering a shot that was blocked. From the ensuing corner, Pique lost his man, but Pazzini did well to block his header.
7 min As Barcelona knock it one to the other, Gary Naylor has more pressing matters on his mind. "I don't often watch the Champions League, so I hadn't realised that Gazprom is a sponsor. Gazprom and Berlusconi. How did it come to this?"
If only that were the worst of it. They also sponsor Zenit and have interests in Red Star and are Chelsea's "official energy partner." Oh, world!
6 min As Barcelona up the tone with some tiki-taka that comes to nothing, Stu Blantern makes sure to squanty it right back down. "The Barca strip tonight is reminiscent of the 90s Global Hypercolour craze. My heat reactive boxer shorts made it clear (dark)..."
I'm going to leave you to guess the rest. I'm clearly a bit younger than you, we were more concerned with how they reacted to expelled phlegm - known in Camden as greenies.
x min There is no timestamp on my screen, which would please both Bob Marley, who knew that no one could stop it, Nas, who considered it illmatic, and philosophers the universe over. Muntari picks up a heeled waft from Iniesta after a couple of attempted headed clearances from Pique, and makes a thumping connection from thirty yards, watching the ball sail praiseworthily close to the crossbar.
2 min Milan have started confidently. They're sitting off Barcelona when they've the ball deep in their own half, before breaking into a light jog once the ball crosses halfway.
1 min We kick off. For those watching without sunglasses, Barcelona are playing in:
You could cut the atmosphere with an atmosphere cutter. Yo DJ pump this party.
Join in at home:
Ce sont les meilleures équipes
Es sind die allerbesten Mannschaften
The main event
Les grandes équipes
Une grande réunion
Eine große sportliche Veranstaltung
The main event
Ils sont les meilleurs
Sie sind die Besten
These are the champions
Les grandes équipes
Les grandes équipes
The rules of hilarious internet rhetoric - now there's an oxycompletemoron for you - require that I call tonight's fare football porn. Rebelliously, I am not going to call tonight's fare football porn - iconoclasts R us, yeah - but in any event, we're hoping for invigorating affirmation rather than queasy mortification. Anyway, the players are coming out, so let's get on with it.
Milan, then - do they have a chance? Well, Barcelona have looked more vulnerable defensively than in recent seasons, partly because Pique hasn't paid as much attention and partly because Puyol isn't what he was. On top of that, with Iniesta shunted to the wing, the ball retention and speedy midfield pressing isn't what it was; brilliant though Cesc Fabregas is, you could make a case that he's ruined the greatest midfield of all-time. All he needs is a goatee and kneeband and he's the modern-day Seba Veron. But if that offers Milan some hope, the return of Pedro whips it not-quite clean away - he's such an assured finisher, and they really missed him last season.
Milan, meanwhile, despite resembling the girl in Like a Rolling Stone meets the Riff Raff Element, still have some handy players. If they can keep it tight in midfield, there's enough pace and trickery in the front three to cause some problems. Which they will, but without winning. You're welcome.
Perceptive psychoanalysis with Glenda:
Geoff Shreeves: "Do you think Fabregas is happier at Barcelona than he was at Arsenal?"
Glenn Hoddle: "No, perhaps not."
Hands on shoulders required.
Question two: what would David Batty have been, had he not been a footballer?
Quiz time: when are things that aren't still things that are? When they're David Batty. Here he is, kicking seven shades out of Roberto Mancini and pals in a Leeds-Sampdoria friendly.
Tactical analysis: "There are many questions to which we do not have scientific answers, not because they are deep, impenetrable mysteries, but simply because they are not scientific questions."
BREAKING NEWS! Mario Balotelli is a Milan player!
In the words of gentleman-philosopher Paulie D, squadra sono qui!
AC Milan: Abbiati, Abate, Mexes, Zapata, Constant, Ambrosini, Montolivo, Muntari, Boateng, Pazzini, El Shaarawy. Subs: Amelia, De Sciglio, Traore, Niang, Bojan, Cristante, Yepes.
Barcelona: Valdes, Dani Alves, Pique, Puyol, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Fabregas, Pedro, Messi, Iniesta. Subs: Pinto, Sanchez, Thiago, Mascherano, Montoya, Song, Tello.
Scottish presence in the last 16, whatever next*: Craig Thomson (Scotland)
*Yes, I know, but I'm having it anyway.
So, for Milan, El Sharaawy is fit. So, for Barca, things are as you'd expect.
Opening pedantry, courtesy of Mark Weiner. "It's Marvelous Marvin Hagler, but what a great reference nonetheless!"
This raises the fascinating dilemma which consumed part of my afternoon. Marvin is American and Marvelous was his name, so accordingly, spelled with a single 'l'. Could I allow this to infiltrate my own English? I could not, I Garry Cooked.
Strike first, strike hard. It's Ryanne Dunne! "Hawrite Dazzle Hazzle!" he begins. I'm not sure there's anywhere to go from here, but go anywhere from here he does. "Surely I can't be the only one wondering if this MBM, linked to on the main page, will lead to lots of stereotypical guardianistas assuming it's a liveblog comparison between the two fine cities in areas such as Cusine, Art and Gap Yahs rather than being all about that ghastly sport fitba?"
We're all things to all istas, the Manchester Chamedian.
Of course, for the aspirational, those same things are very - but these two are royalty, and as such, all about the definitive rather than the gnomic. Anyone got Hilary Mantel's number?
Assuming not, let's say some detailed, nuanced stuff* and wait to be baselessly pilloried.
*not really, silly
Preamble Some things, just are. Blood on the Tracks, being fat, the name Denzil, Rauchbier, disappointment, bone marrow gravy, Marvin Hagler, astrobelts, farting, peace, Milan-Barcelona. Some things, just are.