Champions League: AC Milan v Barcelona match preview
A look ahead to tonight’s Champions League fixture at the San Siro
AC Milan are searching for their first victory against Barcelona since a 1-0 success at the San Siro in October 2004, with Andriy Shevchenko on target for the Italian giants. The sides have met seven times since with four Barca victories and three draws. The Catalans also lead the overall head-to-head with six wins compared to Milan’s four, with five draws. One of Milan’s victories did come in the 1994 Champions League final, when they put Barca to the sword and were convincing 4-0 victors.
The Rossoneri have had a disappointing domestic season in Serie A and they trail current leaders Juventus by 11 points. Massimiliano Allegri’s young side have improved of late though and have lost only one of their last 13 league games with Friday’s 2-1 home win against Parma lifting them to third. January recruit Mario Balotelli has made an immediate impact with four goals in his first three games, but he is ineligible to face Barcelona as he has already appeared in this season’s competition for Manchester City. Milan will need to improve on their group stage form when they qualified with just eight points, which was the lowest points’ tally of all the teams in the last 16. Allegri’s side also picked up just two points at home and only scored one goal at the San Siro, in the 1-1 draw with Malaga.
Visitors Barcelona are enjoying a tremendous season and have shown no ill effects from losing coach Pep Guardiola last summer. Tito Vilanova’s outfit are 12 points clear at the top of La Liga and they have the highest average points per game among the elite leagues. Barca have dropped only seven points in the league this season, and earned another win on Saturday with a 2-1 success at Granada. One hope for Milan is that Barca did fall to a shock 2-1 defeat at Celtic in the Champions League group stage.
KICK-OFF: Wednesday, 7.45pm
PAST FOUR MEETINGS…
Barcelona 3 (Messi 2, Iniesta) AC Milan 1 (Nocerino), Champions League, quarter-final, April 2012
AC Milan 0 Barcelona 0, quarter-final, March 2012
AC Milan 2 (Ibrahimovic, Boateng) Barcelona 3 (Van Bommel og, Messi, Xavi), Champions League, group stage, November 2011
Barcelona 2 (Pedro, Villa) AC Milan 2 (Pato, Silva), Champions League, group stage, September 2011
Milan scored just seven goals in the group stage, the joint-lowest with Galatasary of all the sides left in the last 16.
The Rossoneri collected 17 yellow cards in the group stage, more than any other team who reached the last 16.
Milan have scored 399 goals in the European Cup.
Lionel Messi has scored 56 Champions League goals, level with Ruud van Nistelrooy and behind only Raul Gonzalez (71).
Barcelona committed fewer fouls (46) than any other side in the group stage.
The Catalan giants enjoyed 71% of possession in the group stage, completing 4,334 of their 5,078 attempted passes with an 85% success rate – all higher than any other team.
AC Milan to win: 11/2
Barcelona to win: 1/2
TV: Live on Sky Sports 2 at 7.45pm, highlights on Sky Sports 1 at 12am on Thursday.
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