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Thursday Kickoff: Barca files complaint, Guzan contract talk on hold and more

MessiNesta (Getty Images)

Barcelona was held scoreless for the first time in 30 UEFA Champions League matches on Wednesday, and while AC Milan's organized defensive effort accounted for much of the club's frustration, the Spanish power was not entirely thrilled with the playing conditions either.

The defending world champions have lodged a complaint about the condition of the playing surface at the San Siro. After the match, a number of players and manager Pep Guardiola spoke about the choppy turf, and the club made their feelings official by submitting a complaint to the UEFA representative at the match. Europe's governing body of soccer will approach Milan about the complaint.

"In the end we adapt to everything, we come and we play, but it's clear that this was a problem for the spectacle," Guardiola said in his post-match comments according to Barcelona's official website.

The return leg for the quarterfinal tie, which is currently level at 0-0, is set for Tuesday at Camp Nou.

Here are a few more stories to get your day going:


Brad Guzan's contract with Aston Villa expires this summer, and while the club has engaged in talks about a new deal for the American goalkeeper, those talks will be put on hold until after the Premier League season is over.

Villa has decided to leave all talks for players who will be out of contract on the back burner while focusing on securing another season in England's top flight. Aston Villa sits in 15th place in the Premier League, a somewhat comfortable eight points clear of the drop zone with nine matches remaining in the season.

Along with Guzan, players like Emile Heskey and Carlos Cuellar also have their current deals expire at the end of the season. Should Guzan wind up staying, he'd likely be signing on for more back-up duties. Staying with Villa would also provide the Illinois native a bit of a homecoming this summer, as the club faces the Chicago Fire in a friendly in July.


Monterrey is one step closer to defending its CONCACAF Champions League crown after a convincing performance in the first leg of their semifinal tie.

Los Rayados routed Pumas UNAM 3-0 in their first-leg encounter Wednesday night, taking a big advantage into the return leg. Humberto Suazo set up all three goals, feeding Miguel Morales off a free kick in the first half before assisting Aldo de Nigris for two goals in the second half.

Here are highlights from the match:



Mario Balotelli has made a habit of making life difficult for his managers, and that appeared to be the case again after another dust-up with Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini.

Balotelli was reportedly lit into by Mancini before an assistant had the mercurial Italian striker finish his training elsewhere. He had just returned from a two-day break, one that included him surprising his former club Inter Milan by appearing inannounced at a press conference. 

For Balotelli, getting into trouble at training is not a new development, as he has gotten into training fights with teammates on a pair of occasions since joining Manchester City and has been widely criticized for his off-field antics.


Did you think the playing surface impacted Barcelona's performance against Milan? Hope to see Guzan head elsewhere this summer? Do you think Monterrey will repeat as CCL champions? What's your take on the latest Balotelli drama?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Yeah, this is a big YAWN for me…both teams played on the same field.

    Barca must be thinking that there has to be some other explanation for being shut out in the Champions League for the first time in however many games.

  2. It wasn’t hard to maintain, they did it on purpose. They also did it against Arsenal.

    They water log the pitch in order to slow down and cause problems for quick possession teams like Barca and Arsenal.

  3. While watching the game I thought exactly the opposite. Both teams were having so much difficulty with footing it seemed to validate Wenger’s claims. Though I doubt it was completely gamesmanship by Milan.

    Inter and AC play a lot of games on the field and it gets pretty beat up. Supposedly the stadium was built up too much so that it doesn’t get enough light on the pitch to regrow good grass.

  4. Guzan probably wont decide until Villa’s status in the BPL is confirmed for next season. Randy Lerner is broke so everyone across the board, according to reports, is being asked to cut his wages by 10k(pounds) a week. Two choices, you can be a BPL backup for Shay Given for the next 8 years, assuming Villa stay up or be the starter for Villa in the Championship at a reduced wage. Personally, I think he should come back to MLS, get steady time and stay in shape. After the debacle that was the USMNT Olympic qualifying, who is going to be Tim’s No. 2 come qualifying for Brazil?

  5. So what Milan are doing with the pitch is in the spirit of the game? UEFA will do nothing with this, but if enough teams file official complaints over time, then eventually they will. If none file, then Milan will just keep on doing it. Players get fined for wearing the wrong color shirt under their jersey or pulling their socks down. Doesn’t make sense that clubs aren’t held to similar standards for the quality of the playing surface.

    And besides, who are the wimps here? Barca for filing a complaint, or Milan for waterlogging their pitch because they were afraid they couldn’t handle the opponent straight up.

  6. I doubt that the UEFA will do anything meaningful with this complaint, but the pitch was actually much worse in this game than in Arsenal game after which Arsenal’s manager complained. I don’t think that Guardiola was looking for excuses after a 0-0 draw or expected a perfect pitch. His point was that the quality of the pitch was so abysmal that it affected the quality of the game. I watched the game and I agree. Home teams sometimes do things to make things more difficult for a road team – e.g. Real Madrid not cutting the grass for two weeks to slow down Barca’s passing – and the road teams including Barca adjust. But in this instance the pitch was so bad that it fell below the minimum quality standards expected for a Champions league clash. It’s not like they played in Russia in late November. This is Italy at the end of March and San Siro is one of their top stadiums hosting big clubs as Inter and AC Milan. I don’t know what they did to the pitch prior to the match, but it was pretty close to being unplayable.

  7. $125 per game with an extra $25 for a clean sheet… room and board.
    Not bad for riding the pine on a relegation threatened team

  8. “In the end we adapt to everything, we come and we play, but it’s clear that this was a problem for the spectacle,” Guardiola said in his post-match comments according to Barcelona’s official website.

  9. I just lost a lil respect for them.. you cant adapt to a feild? you cant play like the legends on choppy pitches? now you’re complaining? wimps.

  10. Guzan shouold not sign a new contract with Villa anyway. Time to move on Brad. You have the ability, and quite frankly after watching both Hamids and Johnsons performances at the U-23 tournamnet it’s going to be a few more years before either of those two should really be playing with the USMNT.

  11. There is something to that complaint by Barca. Arsenal made the same complaint in the Round of 16. You could tell after 5 minutes of watching the game that there was pitch issues. Guys were slipping everywhere. The complaints dont really bother me at all. Its called home field advantage. Guardiola should consider himself lucky to not being coming home with a 2-0 deficit to overturn. Milan finishing was shambolic at best.

  12. Pep and Barca channeling their inner Arsene Wenger here. Cmon boys, this type of whining isn’t World Class.

    Then again, Busquets & company’s theatrical diving isn’t either.


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