One club is considered the best in the world; the other is a team that has found its way back to the top of its domestic league. Both were surprised this weekend by so-called lesser sides. Tonight, it was Barcelona that showed its quality over AC Milan. Unfortunately for Barca, the scoresheet didn’t reflect it.
Two goals by Milan’s Brazilian stars bookended the game and stole a point for the Rossoneri. The World Champions dominated up until that point: Barcelona had 80% possession at the 75th-minute mark… a calling card for the Catalonians. Gaffer Pep Guardiola says he’s not worried… nor should he be.
It’s the Italian club that should be wringing its hands. The consensus is that AC Milan will have a tough time defending the scudetto… and judging by their last two performances, they may prove the pundits right. Not only did Barca’s tiki-taka have Milan on the back heel for most of the match, but the Italian champs kicked off the Serie A season on Thursday by having to fight back against a new-look Lazio. Add the Roman club to Milan’s growing list of league rivals:
– Internazionale is aging but still potent.
– Juventus may be an Old Lady, but she may find a sabbatical from Europe rejuvenating.
– Udinese was the better team against Arsenal in CL qualifiers, and could build on last year’s success.
– The South seems to be rising again with Palermo beating Inter 4-3 (again, the Nerrazzurri looked slow and old)… and Napoli being picked as a dark horse for the title.
And while he didn’t play tonight, Milan still has its good luck charm: Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Every team he has played on since 2004 has won its domestic title (if you include Juventus’ revoked trophies). He is a big, black belt-wearing nutter who has a goals-per-game average of at least 50% in the last six seasons. Plus, NOW he’s eating his Wheaties.