Oh, how wrong I was, and how lucky we are.
I think everyone (except Milan fans) thought that Bayern were marginal favourites going into last night’s game, but two goals by Seedorf and Inzaghi in the first half (Seedorf played a blinder, btw) sealed the tie and Bayern had no answer to Milan’s class (and dogged defending).
So the preferred semi-final is now setup – Manchester United vs Milan, with the chance to play Liverpool or Chelsea at Athens.
I’ll have the semi-final preview up on Monday.
You already know my predictions 🙂
Bayern have Demichelis injured and Schweinsteiger is a doubt for tonight’s game, but with van Bommel returning alongside Hargreaves Bayern will have the firepower in central midfield to control Kaka, Pirlo and Gattuso.
Hargreaves and Lucio should be fit to play this game despite minor niggles.
Bayern don’t have the best record against Milan, but they have their best chance to beat Milan this time around. As at the San Siro, it will be a battle between Bayern’s strength and Milan’s quality.
As a Manchester United fan, I’d rather face Milan than Bayern in the semis – United can beat Milan by playing great, but to beat Bayern they’ll have to pull a blinder at the Allianz Arena, and away form is not United’s strongest suit.
Pick for tonight? Bayern to go through with a 1-1 draw or a 2-1 win.
First Leg – Match Details
Date: Tuesday, 03 April, 2007
Venue: San Siro
Time: 19:45 GMT
Score: AC Milan 2-2 Bayern Munich
Second Leg – Match Details
Date: Wednesday, 11 April, 2007
Venue: Allianz Arena
Time: 19:45 GMT
van Buyten (Bayern)
van Buyten (Bayern)
A fascinating game that ends 2-2 with a late injury-time goal by Bayern Munich.
There will be a lot of talk about the ref, but I think he did a good job. There was a second penalty claim for Kaka and this time it was given. From the replays I saw it was close, but Lucio did get the ball before he got Kaka. It’s not as bad a decision as the commentator made it out to be, but the ref was wrong and it’s something you see in every other game. Something has to be done to help refs make better decisions.
After half-time, Milan piled up on Bayern and dominated the first 25 minutes. Then Bayern hit back with a goal in the 77th minute, a scrappy one by Daniel van Buyten. In the 93rd minute, after Kaka’s 84th minute penalty, van Buyten got his second goal from nearly the same position, and Bayern’s resilience proved to be the difference once again.
Milan had the quality but not the staying power. Bayern Munich lacked quality but more than made up for it in fighting tooth and nail for it.
There’s one incident though, that was unfair on Milan and probably should have put Milan 2-0 up and put Bayern out of the game.
A Milan player lobbed the ball up front and Gilardino broke, managing to beat the defenders and lob the keeper. The linesman had already called offside and Gilardino was booked for scoring after the whistle, but in all fairness the linesman had it wrong.
A preview for the second leg soon.
Milan are 1-0 up at half-time, and deservedly so. They’ve pushed Bayern Munich on the back foot and despite Hargreaves’ best efforts in midfield, Milan are controlling the game. Bayern have done well, but haven’t been able to get into the right positions or the right final ball to create good chances.
Milan’s goal was scored by Pirlo, a wonderful looping header over the Bayern keeper. Has to be seen, I’ll put up a video tomorrow. Pirlo was being marked by Hargreaves at the time, he’s not a defender and yes he’s had a good game, but he should have stayed with Pirlo.
By the way, there was a penalty call on Kaka – that was NOT a penalty, Lucio got the ball first.
Milan will be looking for a second goal. By the way, Gattuso is sometimes a girl for asking for fouls that don’t exist, and the scene where Podolski holds on to Gattusso’s leg just to get him to fall again is typical of Podolski’s whatever-it-takes approach to the game.
See you in 45 minutes.
AC Milan: Dida, Oddo, Nesta, Maldini, Jankulovski, Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini, Seedorf, Kaka, Gilardino.
Subs: Kalac, Cafu, Kaladze, Inzaghi, Gourcuff, Bonera, Brocchi.
Bayern Munich: Rensing, Sagnol, Lucio, Van Buyten, Lahm, Salihamidzic, Hargreaves, Ottl, Schweinsteiger, Makaay, Podolski.
Subs: Dreher, Scholl, Pizarro, Gorlitz, Santa Cruz, Lell, Demichelis.
Milan have Maldini and Nesta fit to play, and Gilardino will lead the line with rumours that Milan might play two up front to force a result.
Bayern chief Rumminegge has taken the racial angle by criticising the Russian referee in charge of their CL quarter final. Yes, referees should be experienced, but it is this sort of harrassment (not to mention the scrutiny the press, the players and fans put the refs under) that causes a shortage and forces inexperienced referees into these situations where they have to officiate key games.
Bayern have Mark van Bommell and Oliver Kahn unavailable for this game. Owen Hargreaves in his latest column said that it won’t change Bayern’s approach to the game, and quite frankly after seeing Bayern play in the second round I’m much more inclined to watch this game than the PSV v Liverpool bash.
Milan don’t have Ronaldo to call upon but they know the value of winning the San Siro leg and will be going all out to win this tie. Kaka remains their chief threat (and top goal scorer in the Champions League), and it will be interesting to see what type of team Milan play.
Milan’s Gilardino and Maldini and Bayern’s DeMichelis and Andreas Ottl are on yellow cards, and will miss the next game if they are booked. Oliver Kahn is already suspended for Bayern.
AC Milan Preview
Milan have the top scorer in the Champions League in their squad, but his position on the pitch is a reflection of how frail Milan’s Champions League challenge is.
Kaka leads the scoring charts with 6 goals and Milan will be relying on him once again to produce the goods against Bayern at the San Siro.
Milan have been linked persistently with Ronaldinho this season, but to make that happen they have to qualify for the Champions League first. They have brought in Ronaldo from Real to help them prosper in the league, but they don’t have a similar-quality striker available for their Champions League clash.
Milan’s lack of strike power will be their man disadvantage, but with Pirlo and Gattuso manning the midfield and Kaka pushing forward, they have the midfield to prosper against Bayern Munich.
But can Kaka do it for them again?
Bayern Munich Preview
Bayern Munich have been in the press for the wrong reasons recently, with Oliver Kahn swearing at a dope testing official who wanted to see him piss in a bottle (and subsequently getting a one-match ban) and Bayern Munich issuing another of their ‘we don’t need to sell Hargreaves’ bulletin.
All this has taken away from their fantastic win over Real Madrid in the second round (the best 180 minutes of the second round). Bayern are strong at home and they will use it to their advantage by pushing on to score at San Siro.
With midfield lynchpin Hargreaves playing back-to-back games for England on 24th and 28th, Bayern will be hoping that he’s fit for the San Siro trip.
Bayern may not have the skill to win the Champions League, but they have the will and technical discipline to fight for it till the end.
Against Milan, that might just be enough.
AC Milan vs Bayern Munich – Predictions
Bayern will be able to score goals, so it will go down to their ability to defend against Milan and successfully keep their strikers out. Without Kahn to marshall the defence, that may prove to be a bit difficult at the San Siro, but Bayern are more balanced and should be able to win this quarter final tie between two faltering European giants.