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We went minute-by-minute for this evening’s Champions League quarter-finals. Marseille took Bayern Munich in the south of France but we focused mainly on the big one — AC Milan v Barcelona in the San Siro.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this evening’s action. E-mail niall@thescore.ie, tweet @thescore_iepost a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

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AC Milan 0-0 Barcelona

Marseille 0-2 Bayern Munich

Welcome to our minute-by-minute coverage of this evening’s Champions League quarter-finals. As they say in Milan, “Here we go again.”

Turn it up loud.

YouTube Credit: jasontkpacca

For those of you who tuned in for live updates of the clash between SPL heavyweights Inverness Cally Thistle and St Johnstone, apologies — that guy is gone home (if he ever existed).

Instead, our focus will mainly be on the San Siro this evening, where there’s just under 15 minutes to go before kick-off. Here are your teams.

AC Milan: Abbiati, Bonera, Nesta, Mexes, Antonini, Nocerino, Ambrosini, Seedorf, Boateng, Robinho, Ibrahimovic.

Barcelona: Valdes, Dani Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Puyol, Iniesta, Busquets, Xavi, Keita, Messi, Sanchez.

And here are the line-ups from France:

Marseille: Andrade, Azpilicueta, N’Koulou, Morel, Fanni, Diarra, Mbia, Amalfitano, Rémy, A.Ayew, Valbuena.

Bayern: Neuer, Boateng, Lahm, Badstuber, Ribéry, Robben, Alaba, Gustavo, Kroos, Müller, Gomez.

The atmosphere in the San Siro is absolutely electric as the two teams line up in the tunnel. Barcelona may be the short-priced favourites to win the Champions League outright but anybody who watches Serie A on a regular basis — or even the first leg against Arsenal in the last 16 — will tell you that Milan are no mugs. Expect them to really test Pep and his merry men tonight.

Of course, there is a rather intriguing subplot to proceedings with the best player in the world, Leo Messi, lining up against the man who thinks he is the best player in the world, King Zlatan of Ibrahimovic.

Zlatan and Barca haven’t always seen eye to eye, but Guardiola knows that they’ll have to keep a close eye on the big Swede tonight.

They have great combative play, they’re good in the air, and they dominate long passes, thanks to Ibrahimovic. When he receives the ball, the whole offensive mechanism of the team snaps into play.

He’s unbeatable in the air. We must try to deactivate him and AC Milan through ball possession.

Referee Jonas Eriksson — one of Zlatan’s fellow countrymen, no less — gets us underway.

We’ve been testing the water over on TheScore.ies Facebook page. Here are the early predictions:

Oh my, a wonderful chance for Milan to go in front inside the opening two minutes. Kevin Prince-Boateng lines one up on the edge of the box, but when he fires it in, it comes back off Pique’s head and up into the night sky. When it drops, Zlatan heads it back across the face of goal to an onside and totally unmarked Robinho, but he blazes his volley over the bar.

That’s an awful miss.

Here’s how the two teams have lined up. No Thiago Silva for Milan —  he limped off with an injury at the weekend — so it will be interesting to see how they cope with Barca’s attacking trident in his absence.

Wow, Leo Messi is human after all. He shapes to curl in a free-kick from the edge of the Milan box but slips at the crucial moment and it skews off the outside of his standing leg and wide. Keita nearly got on the end of it anyway, mind you.

Messi fires in the first shot on target which bobbles awkwardly in front of Abbiati. He can’t hold it, but gets just enough on it to keep it away from the onrushing Dani Alves.

A big decision for our referee and I think — between him and his assistant behind the goal — he’s got this one wrong.

Xavi takes a quick free-kick short to Busquets, who plays in Sanchez. The Chilean is stumbling away from goal, but he nicks the ball past Abbiati and then hits the deck. On first glance, it seems a penalty and the replay confirm it. Big let off for Milan.

And now Barca have the ball in the net. It’s Messi — who is looking for his 50th Champions League goal tonight — but his three-yard tap-in is rightly chalked off for offside.

Barca need to be careful that they don’t concede against the run of play here, because Milan look very dangerous on the break.

Ambrosini battles to win the ball back from Xavi inside the centre-circle before playing it Seedorf who slides it through to Ibrahimovic with his first touch. Ibra is onside and on the defender’s shoulder, but when he pulls the trigger, Valdes is down smartly to smother it.

Great chance, great save.

Over in the Stade Velodrome, it’s still Marseille 0-0 Bayern Munich as they pass the half-way point in the first half. Bayern are being allowed plenty of the ball, but they haven’t created any meaningful chances yet.

Xavi and Messi treat us to a little bit of Barca doing what they do best. There’s no space at all to work in, but they somehow manage to carve out a chance with neat, quick passes. Abbiati gets down to save from Xavi.

I think the Milan fans may have raised the bar for pre-match displays tonight: Pacman!

Brilliant defending by Antonini to deny Sanchez a great chance to open Barcelona’s account. The midfielder is caught slightly flat-footed initially but manages to get back as Sanchez bears down on goal and throws his body across the path of the ball at exactly the right moment. Bonera comes across from right-full to mop up the afters.

Milan are dropping into two very compact banks of four without the ball, but when they break, they’re getting plenty of men up in support. It’s a tactic that looks like it may bear fruit at some stage this evening. Nocerino crosses for Seedorf, but he hits his volley into the ground and it’s gobbled up by Valdes.

Three minutes to go until half-time. Will either side be able to break the deadlock?

Our good friends from UEFA.com have this update from the Velodrome, where it is still Marseille 0-0 Bayern Munich as they approach half-time.

Marseille have defended with enviable determination and have restricted Bayern to no shots on target, despite the German side’s territorial supremacy.

GOAL! Marseille 0-1 Bayern Munich (Gomez, 44′) Commentator’s curse, innit? Bayern score with their first chance of the evening.

And who else could it be but that man Mario Gomez, who bangs in his 11th in the competition. Bayern break and when Robben slips the ball through to Gomez, he fires it underneath Andrade’s body to give the Germans an important away goal.

HALF TIME: AC Milan 0-0 Barcelona

Marseille 0-1 Bayern Munich

Normally, I’d complain about having to watch a nil-nil, but this is different. Real end-to-end stuff with great chances from both sides. Barcelona have had the better of it, and should have had a penalty for Abbiati’s foul on Sanchez, but Milan will take plenty of heart from the chances they’ve created on the counter.

I’ll be back very shortly, but in the meantime, send in your thoughts on the first half to niall@thescore.ie or any of the usual places.

Aaaaaaaand, we’re off again. Thanks for your emails, Mam.*

* This is a joke.

Iniesta has a half-chance to get us underway in this second half. Keita’s dummy run opens up a little bit of space for him, but his shot whistles a foot past Abbiati’s right post.

Here’s a still of that penalty incident from the first half. Doesn’t clear up any questions but it’s a nice pic, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Antonio Calanni/AP/Press Association Images

An early change for Milan. Robinho makes way for Stephan El Shaarawi, who you may remember from his Champions League debut in the second leg defeat away to Arsenal.

Milan keep trying to get in behind Barcelona’s high defensive line but every time, Ibrahimovic is marginally offside. They’ll only need him to stay onside once though.

The opening 10 minutes of this second half have been very stop-start, with no real flowing football from either side.

Milan break at pace through Boateng and they have a man over, but Nocerino chooses to square rather than take on the shot which might have been the better option. Barca eventually get men back and get it away.

Messi sticks a free-kick into the stands, much to delight of the home supporters who make sure that the little Argentinian hears their derisive catcalls.

Mario Gomez’s goal is still all that separates the sides at the Velodrome, where it’s Marseille 0-1 Bayern Munich with 25 minutes to play.

The Marseille fans obviously got wind of Milan’s Pacman banner and unfurled one of their own, which I believe translates as “Deschamps and your players, go away” — a reference to their less-than-sparkling form in Ligue 1, I presume.

A change apiece. Guardiola brings on Tello to replace Iniesta, while Allegri withdraws KPB and sends on Emanuelson in his place.

And Emanuelson has an opportunity to make an instant impact, but his touch lets him down twice within a matter of seconds. Oh dear.

GOAL! Marseille 0-2 Bayern Munich (Robben, 69′) That is surely one foot in the semi-finals for Bayern Munich, as Arjen Robben puts them two up on the night in the south of France. The Dutchman has been lively tonight, by all accounts, and he plays a neat one-two with Thomas Muller before finishing. Our stats man (i.e. me) tells me that’s his eighth goal in the last seven games.

A chance for Barca but Tello fires into the side-netting. Easy to say now, but he might have been better off passing that.

Fifteen minutes remaining here, and Milan’s defence suddenly looks a little bit shakier. Nesta is injured and has to go off; Djamel Mesbah is the man chosen to replace him. Remember him Arsenal fans? Surely he can’t be that awful again…

Pedro comes on to replace Alexis for Barca.

Cracking defending by Ambrosini who makes another brilliant lunge to block Messi’s shot, which goes behind. From the resulting corner, Mesbah can’t get anywhere near Carles Puyol — I know — and Barca’s captain flashes a header just wide of Abbiati’s far post.

Oooh, that was very nearly it for Barca. Messi conjures something out of nothing as he stumbles in the box and though Abbiati gets down to make the save, he can only push it about three yards out to where Tello is waiting, licking his lips. His angle is narrow but it’s a golden opportunity, denied only by a wonderful block by Antonini who gets to his feet and celebrates as if he’s just got the winner.

We’re into the first of three minutes of stoppage time.

One last effort from Xavi, but it’s well wide. That will be that, me thinks.

Or not — Milan have a free and they’re piling men into the box… but it comes to nothing.

FULL TIME: AC Milan 0-0 Barcelona

Marseille 0-2 Bayern Munich

Full time in the San Siro and in the Stade Velodrome. Milan will be very pleased with their evening’s work, even if they did rely on a couple of last-ditch tackles to keep the score at 0-0. They were lively on the break themselves and, having scored two in the Camp Nou during the group stages, will back themselves to go and get a vital away goal in the second leg.

Barcelona might well point to a penalty which they should have had for Abbiati’s foul on Sanchez in the first half, but even at 0-0, they’ll remain favourites to book a place in the semis against either Chelsea or Benfica.

That’s our lot so for the evening. Thanks for stopping by.

About the author:

Niall Kelly

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