Barcelona still the best but Allegri confident
AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said Barcelona had proved they were still the best team in the world in winning 3-2 at the San Siro in their UEFA Champions League clash here on Wednesday.
But the Italians' boss believes the auspices are good for his own side in the knock-out stages of the competition next year. Barcelona's win ensured they will top Group H with Milan finishing second and potentially facing a much harder last 16 clash.
But if anything, his team's performance has given Allegri a boost. "Barcelona are still the best in the world right now. Real (Madrid) and Barcelona are definitely better than the others, they're still the favourites for the Champions League," he said.
"We needed to play this game to see where we are in relation to Barcelona and the rest of Europe. We interpreted the match in the best way, we're on the right path and this bodes well for the last 16 in February.
"We played well, we had to play like this and we did so. It was a good game, it was open, we conceded chances but we also created some. In the first half we had a lot of attacking situations and we leave this match with self-confidence knowing that we will be competitive in the Champions League.
"I don't know if we can go all the way, it depends on episodes but tonight we had to play like this and the lads did so. We made some mistakes, we played worse than we did away to Barcelona, we should have drawn but tonight's performance was not as good. We could have made more of our chances but we didn't quite make the last pass, we didn't stretch them enough as we did when we scored the goals."
Twice Milan pegged back the visitors but ultimately Barcelona always had something extra up their sleeve. A Mark van Bommel own goal gave them the lead before Zlatan Ibrahimovic equalised. Lionel Messi restored Barcelona's advantage from the penalty spot but Kevin-Prince Boateng scored the goal of the night to restore parity. But a sublime Messi pass released Xavi to notch the winner.
"We can't expect to come here to the San Siro and not be put in some difficulty," said Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola. "If we wanted to play more conservatively we would take out an attacker and play an extra defender.
"Other than the opportunities Milan created, which is normal given their quality and the team they are, we can also talk of the chances we created. It was important to win at the San Siro, they're happy, they said they played well, we're happy, they're happy, everyone's happy."
Guardiola reserved special praise for Sergio Busquets, who started the game at centre-back but was then brought out into defensive midfield leaving three at the back. "It's not easy to play three at the back, Busquets's position wasn't easy. When you play in midfield it's easy to break forward but it's not easy to go backwards."
As ever, Guardiola deferred to his players, insisting that they more than he are responsible for the club's fantastic results. "I think we're doing some good things and some bad ones but I'm lucky to have this team and these players," he said.
"We've won 12 out of the 15 trophies available. But with another coach these players could have won the same. But I'm not sure that with another team or with other players I could have won so much. I try to help these players and get to know the opponents and make them play."