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Highlights: Four star Barcelona and one alternate reality

Javier Mascherano, Mbaye Niang

Barcelona’s defender Javier Mascherano, from Argentina, left, stops Milan’s forward Mbaye Niang, of France, right, during the Champions League round of 16 second leg soccer match between FC Barcelona and AC Milan at Camp Nou stadium, in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, March 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)


One of the moments of Tuesday’s match is not in the highlight package, above (provided by FOX Soccer). It came a minute before Barcelona’s second goal, when a long ball out of Milan’s half was misjudged by Javier Mascherano. His error allowed M’Baye Niang to go in on Victor Valdes from 40 yards out. The Barça keeper came to the edge of his area to cut him off, but he couldn’t reach Niang’s shot, which clanged off the bottom of Valdes’s right post.

Inches to the right, and Milan goes up 3-1. They’d have an away goal, and they’d have killed all the momentum Barcelona cultivated over the first 38 minutes. Given what followed, it’s easy to say Barcelona would have still come back. On the other hand, Niang’s goal could have been a dose of an alternate reality.

We could wax philosophical and ponder the highlight value of things that didn’t happen, like Niang’s goal, but in this reality, Barcelona dominates the highlights, with the four-goal outburst that pushed them into the Champions League quarterfinals chronicled, above.