Written By: SaJorden Miller
Santa Clara, CA- Soccer fans from all over the Bay area showed up to Levi Stadium to witness a great match between two of Europe’s most famous teams, FC Barcelona and AC Milan in the 2018 International Champions Cup! AC Milan forward André Silva captured a dramatic late goal to send the 51,391 fans home with a 1-0 victory and something great to remember the final match of the US Tour.
AC Milan started the match but quickly lost it giving FC Barcelona the opportunity to get a shot before the first minute. Luckily for Milan, Barça could not cap off the opportunity.
On the Barcelona side, we witnessed their finesse passing attack that everyone praises them for and has lead them to win many Championships. On the AC Milan side, we saw their great Italian defense which is really all they needed to get the win over Barcelona.
For Barcelona, they had chances after chances to score but could not get the ball in the back of the net. During the first half, Barcelona had a total of 8 shots only 4 of those were on target. On the other side of the ball, Milan had 3 chances, and none of those were on target, so Barcelona was clearly dominating. Milan was playing aggressively giving up many free kicks, in the first half they had a total of 9 fouls. Barça only had 5 fouls, but Barcelona was winning almost every dual with a 73.8% of the duels won.
Ending the first 45 minutes with a draw of 0-0, many were expecting for Barcelona to come back out on the pitch and dominate.
Heading into the second 45 minutes Barcelona’s head coach Ernesto Valverde only made one change to his starting lineup which was unusual, per the previous two preseason games, where he would change out almost the entire squad heading into the second half. Barça veteran forward Francisco Alcácer was replaced by midfielder Riqui Puig who is currently on Barcelona’s B squad.
In addition to Puig, Barcelona had a few other players who came up from the Barcelona B squad, and they made some significant impacts in the match. In the post-game press conference, Valverde actually noted that he hopes to see some of the B players not only in the future of the team but also the present. The players that he said made a crucial impact in the game are; defender Óscar Mingueza, Puig, and forward Abel Ruiz. Puig is a young creative skilful player who has a great vision of the game, he almost scored in the final minute of regular time but was just off target unfortunately for Barcelona.
AC Milan did not make any changes to start the second half either. They did not bring in any freh legs until the 60th minute. When head coach Gennaro Gattuso decided to sub players out, he took 3 from his attack and 2 from the defense. Coming in on the defensive side was Ignazio Abate for Davide Calabria and Luca Antonelli in for Ricardo Rodríguez. On offense, Gattuso brought in midfielder José Mauri for Manuel Locatelli, forward André Silva in for Patrick Cutrone, and midfielder Alen Halilovic in for forward Fabio Borini.
Milan seemed to be getting frustrated as they began to cause more fouls. In the second half, Milan had 13 fouls 3 of those fouls resulting in yellow cards. Barcelona only had 5 fouls in the second half and 1 of those resulting in a yellow card.
Barcelona kept their robust and fast attack, while Milan sat back and held to their defense. Coach Gattuso talked about his respect for Barcelona. When playing a team like Barca Coach Gattuso knows that the defense needs to be stronger than the offense because while the offense wins the game, defense keeps the team from losing games. As we see it worked out in favor of the defensive team this time.
In the final minutes of the match, Barcelona had their chance with a perfect cross in from Nélson Semedo coming from the right side to Riqui Puig who was open in the middle of the box. Puig hit a side volley one time and just missed to the left of the goal. Milan goalkeeper Donnarumma Gianluigi quickly got the ball back in play, where Calhanoglu Hakan had a breakaway down the left side. Haka then crossed the ball to Kessié Frank who was center at the top of the 18-yard box where he faked out Barcelona defense and played a through ball to Andre Silva where he got a foot on it to send it past Barcelona’s goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, giving Milan the 1-0 lead with only seconds left in the match. Milan robbed the thousands of fans that filled Levi Stadium Saturday from a penalty shoot-out with their persistence and never giving up attitude.
Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma received the Heineken Man of the Match, very well deserved. Donnarumma did a great job of keeping his team together and not letting anything past him even though Barcelona has a total of 20 shots.
Barcelona has concluded their United States tour as they head back to Barcelona to get ready for the Supercopa de España where they will face Sevilla on August 12th at Stade Ibn Batouta.
To look at this match on paper, it should have been Barcelona going on to play their rivals Real Madrid in the ICC final, but instead, it will be the Italians.
Starting XI: Cillessen; Semedo, Marlon, Lenglet, Miranda; Rafinha, Roberto, Arthur; Malcom, Alcácer, Munir (4-3-3)
Bench: Ter Stegen (GK), Ezkieta (GK), Chumi, Cuenca, Mingueza, Palencia, Cucurella, Monchu, Collado, Riqui Puig, Carles Pérez, Ballou, Abel Ruiz
Starting XI: Donnarumma; Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessié, Locatelli, Çalhanoglu; Suso, Cutrone, Borini (4-3-3)
Bench: Donnarumma (GK), Reina (GK), Abate, Antonelli, Bellodi, Simic, Bertolacci, Bonaventura, Brescianini, Zapata, Halilovic, Mauri, Torrasi, André Silva, Kalinic, Tsadjout