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Feb 21, 2013

Roura hits out at 'potato-field' pitch

Barcelona's stand-in coach Jordi Roura said the "potato-field" pitch at the San Siro had not helped his side during Wednesday night's 2-0 Champions League last-16 first leg defeat to AC Milan.

• Corrigan: Alba causing issues
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•  Tomas: Camp Nou awaits

Barcelona 's players had been confident coming into the game, but they were well beaten by a tactically excellent Milan team who took a two goal advantage through second-half strikes from Kevin Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari.

Roura told the post-match press conference that he had felt his players would finish the game stronger, but things had not turned out that way as they struggled to get their usual passing moves together against a well organised defence and uneven pitch surface.

"It was not our best match," Roura admitted. "They defended with a lot of organisation. It was difficult to play, they stuck lots of players close together, the pitch was like a potato-field, not right for a match like this, which made it difficult for us. But we knew before it would be like that.

"In the first half we controlled most of the play, but neither team had any clear chances. We were confident that the effort they were making would take a lot out of them, but it did not happen. They had two chances and scored. The first, taking advantage of a rebound and the second on the counter. The result is bad, that is the reality, but it is not too excessive."

Looking forward to the return game at the Camp Nou on March 12, Roura said he was confident his players could turn things around and benefit from a more favourable environment at the Nou Camp to progress.

"If any team deserves the benefit of the doubt it is this one," he said. "We can make it through to the next round. These players will get the result. We are convinced that we will make it through to the next round in Barcelona. We are playing at home, our fans will support us and the pitch will be in optimal condition."

The Barca camp was also unhappy with the performance of Scottish referee Craig Thomson, who missed an apparent handball in the build-up to Boateng's opener, and also waved away a penalty appeal from Pedro Rodriguez after a physical aerial challenge from Milan defender Philippe Mexes late in the game.

Pedro told Canal Plus after the game that Thomson had not helped the Catalan side.

"I think he was all over me in the box from behind, and the referee did not whistle for it," the winger said. "With the handball [ in the first goal] the same happened. He [thomson] did not let us talk to him."

Nevertheless Barca had not played well, Pedro admitted, and had it all to do in the second leg.

"It was a bad game for us," he said. "They played very close together, they scored two goals and now it is up to us to come back. We tried to play the same as always, but we did not make chances. All that is left is to think about the second leg. At the Camp Nou they will sit back, we need to go at them and hope we have better luck than here."

Pedro's team-mate Andres Iniesta also told Spanish TV that something had been missing from Barca's play, and they would need to improve a lot to progress to the quarter-finals.

"It is a bad result," Iniesta said. "When you are not good, not like always, this can happen. But we have enough to turn it around and make up for this error. We lacked freshness with the ball, we did not create chances, and Milan were very well organised.

"This is the Champions League, against Milan. When things do not go your way, they beat you. We have to think about the return leg, which will be a different story. We will be playing at home, and the pitch will be much better for us. We will have to try and turn things around, right from the first minute."

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