Soccer: Milan wary of post-Barca repercussions

Giants surrendered Serie A lead last season after Euro exit

Soccer: Milan wary of post-Barca repercussions

(By Paul Virgo) Milan, March 13 - AC Milan are focusing on trying to stop Tuesday's 4-0 defeat at Barcelona having repercussions for the domestic campaign after it ended their drive for glory in the Champions League. Milan travelled to Barcelona with high hopes of reaching the quarter-finals after winning the first leg 2-0, but they were smashed by a superlative display by the Catalan side and their Argentine forward Leo Messi, who scored two fine goals. They are particularly wary as, after being dumped out of the Champions League by Barca in the last eight last season, Massimiliano Allegri's side lost 2-1 at home to Fiorentina. The defeat basically cost Milan the title as it enabled Juventus to overtake them at the top of the table and the Turin side never surrendered the lead. Milan have little hope of winning this season's Serie A crown, as they trail leaders Juve by 11 points, but they need to keep hold of third place in the standings to qualify for next season's Champions League. "Now we have to think about the league match against (bottom side) Palermo," Milan Chief Executive Adriano Galliani said Wednesday. "On Sunday we absolutely must not repeat last year's performance against Fiorentina, which came after the return match against Barcelona (in the Champions League)". Allegri's side made a poor start in Serie A after selling Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Brazil defender Thiago Silva and bidding farewell to veterans such as Gennaro Gattuso, Alessandro Nesta and Clarence Seedorf in the summer. The new, younger Milan have improved as the season progressed and they have not lost a league match since before Serie A's winter break. They can take heart from having created some good chances against the world's best team on Tuesday, including an effort by French teen M'Baye Niang that hit the post and a second-half shot by Robinho that was blocked. So Allegri is hopeful his side will learn from the defeat and be able to bounce back quickly. "The players should be satisfied with what they did," the coach said. "They are the best side in the world and we are a young team that have to grow. "It wasn't a disaster. With a bit of luck we'd be here talking about a completely different result. "Now we are thinking about Palermo. The team is in good shape and we'll be ready for Sunday. "Our aim is to play in the Champions League next season. We have to defend our current position in the best of ways and I'm sure we'll get going again straight away against Palermo. "Aside from the result (against Barca), I'm sure that this match we help the team to develop. In life and in soccer, you gain experience from your defeats".

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