"It's not beautiful but they force you to play like that," said Massimo Ambrosini as he and Giampaolo Pazzini cited AC Milan's collective effort against FC Barcelona.
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AC Milan captain Massimo Ambrosini has experienced several magical European nights at San Siro during his long Rossoneri career, yet the 2-0 win against FC Barcelona in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie stood out because it was not "aesthetically beautiful" but the result of a collective effort. That was an opinion shared by striker Giampaolo Pazzini, who said: "We really saw the concept of 'team' in this game."
Massimo Ambrosini, Milan captain
We played in a certain way tonight, but against Barcelona you have to play like that. Maybe it's not aesthetically beautiful, it's not very nice to watch, but they force you to play like that and history teaches [you] that Barcelona were eliminated from this competition only by teams who faced them in this way.
We were very good in closing down all spaces and we also had a few chances in the first half when Barcelona were in clear control of the game. We could have hurt them in the first half and in the second we managed to score, first making the most of a lucky break and then with a nice move.
We are fully aware that it's only the first half, we are happy for the victory, but we know there is still a lot of work to do to qualify. It was a nice victory and we needed a night like this after everything that happened to us at the beginning of the season. It's a victory that every player in the squad must consider as his own, even those who did not play. We have had a tough period, but we have been paid back tonight. It's certainly nice for the players who have not played much at this level, but we must think about our present, not the future.
We know we will have to play a certain kind of game at the Camp Nou because if you only defend there, sooner or later you concede a goal. We said this to each other. We managed to do well in this sense only partially – we will have to do better there because they will again control the game and certainly they will be more determined, so we will have to try to be more positive than tonight.
We were very good while Barcelona probably had a bad night, but this will make them even more motivated in the return. Messi has scored only once in five game at San Siro? Probably he will never come to play here again, it's not a good stadium for him.
Giampaolo Pazzini, Milan striker
We are very happy because we all played a great game, as a team. The coach prepared us perfectly and we did exactly what he asked. The fans, the crowd were wonderful tonight, so it was really a fantastic night overall. We knew how difficult it was and how difficult it still is because we have only played the first leg, but certainly it is better to play there with a two-goal advantage.
The team came first tonight. We really saw the concept of 'team' in this game, everyone was ready to make one more run to help a team-mate. In games like these, when there is so much at stake, individualism comes second, even third or fourth.
At the weekend we have another great game, but we will start to think about the derby [against FC Internazionale Milano] only tomorrow morning because now we must enjoy this great victory. Playing there will be very tough, but it's tough everywhere when you face Barcelona. Tonight we played a great game, but we know we will have another difficult one there.
We were very good because we never lost patience. When their two centre-backs exchange passes like they always do, you have the instinct to go and press, but if you do that, they fool you. We played a perfect game, always keeping the defensive and midfield lines very close to each other and counterattacking whenever we had the chance to do so.