Despite failing to capitalize on early chances and allegations from Barcelona that their pitch was not in suitable condition, AC Milan held out for a 0-0 draw yesterday at the San Siro.  This marked the first occasion in 2 ½ years that Barcelona was held without a goal during a UEFA Champion’s League match.  The Serie A league leaders displayed disciplined and sometimes lucky defense, while Barcelona piled on the pressure throughout the match. 

Robinho squandered an early opportunity, just two minutes from the start when he lifted a volley well over the goal off of a Zlatan Ibrahimovic headed pass. After some early disorganization from the Barcelona defense, they managed to recover and turn the pressure onto the home side, earning several opportunities and one cry for a penalty.  Alexis Sanchez moved the ball around Milan keeper Christian Abbiati and seemed to do an awful lot to draw contact before falling to the ground.  The referee did not award the penalty and instead chose to reward Sanchez’ efforts with a yellow card for simulation. 

Barcelona had another opportunity just a minute later when Dani Alves’ shot across goal was easily tapped in by Lionel Messi, however the whistle had blown because Messi was offside and the goal did not stand.  The game bounced back to Milan when Ibrahimovic found space in front of goal, but a weak left footed effort was easily stopped by Victor Valdes.  Timely defensive challenges were the saving grace for Milan throughout the match and Luca Antonini and the San Siro turf combined to stop Alexis Sanchez’ 35th minute opportunity.

After halftime both teams settled into possession, while Barcelona enjoyed the majority of the opportunities, Milan’s defense seemed to be in the right positions to snuff out their repeated attacks.  When Barcelona was fortunate enough to have scoring opportunities, their accuracy failed them, with a Tello strike finding sidenetting and a Carles Puyol flying header running wide of goal.  Pep Guardiola’s frustration was visible on the sideline as the match drew closer to its conclusion. 

Lionel Messi had a prime opportunity to give Barcelona a crucial away goal on their final opportunity, but his effort was parried well by Abbiati and the ensuing shot from Tello was blocked and cleared by Antonini.  This marked the first game that Lionel Messi has failed to score since February 11 against Osasuna. 

The 0-0 result likely means that we will see more of the same from Milan in their away leg at the Camp Nou next week, but a 1-1 draw would be enough to see the defending Serie A champions through the Champions League semi-final.  AC Milan continued their tradition of never losing the home leg of a Champions League quarter final.  Barcelona will look to rebound from having their goal scoring streak snapped, and it will take place where they have not lost in the Champions League since October 2009.

Milan fans get the background today for their pre-match Pacman banner.