Champions League: Barcelona v AC Milan match preview
A look ahead to tonight’s Champions League clash at the Nou Camp
With the title of the best footballing side in the world lavished upon them by so many, there is a real danger that Barcelona and talisman Lionel Messi could exit the competition in the first knockout stage.
Trailing 2-0 from the first-leg in Milan, Barca have struggled immensely by their own standards under the guidance of interim coach Jordi Roura and will be looking to make amends as they attempt to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Roura is currently deputising for Tito Vilanova, with Pep Guardiola’s replacement currently receiving treatment for throat cancer in New York. The Spanish side go into the tie in good spirits after cruising to a 2-0 home victory over Deportivo at the weekend.
The home side will be heavily reliant on the outstanding talent that is Messi, and will be hoping that once again he is on top form.
The Argentinian climbed off the bench to score his 27 goal in his past 17 matches against Deportivo, and Barcelona have claimed that the strike, Messi’s 17 consecutive goal, breaks Pole Teodor Pewterek's record of scoring in 16 straight games for Ruch Chorzow between 1937/1938.
Massimo Allegri’s side will have to deal with a lack of striking ammunition for the tie against the Catalan giants after Giampaolo Pazzini suffered an injury in Friday’s 2-0 away win at Bologna. With Former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli cup-tied, Allegri is seriously lacking striking options and could have a tough decision ahead of him as he tries to mastermind Barca’s downfall.
Goals from former Portsmouth duo Kevin Prince Boateng and Sully Muntari handed Milan their first-leg lead, and the Rossoneri will have to prove that their defending is nothing short of resilient if they are to defy the odds and claim a famous scalp.
KICK-OFF: Tuesday, 7.45pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS...
AC Milan 2 (Boateng, Muntari) Barcelona 0, UEFA Champions League, February 2013
Barcelona 3 (Messi 2, Iniesta) AC Milan 1 (Nocerino), UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final, April 2012
Milan 0 Barcelona 0, UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final, March 2012
The two sides faced each other no fewer than four times in the competition last season. Barcelona emerged with the better record with two victories on top of two draws.
After scoring an impressive 40 league goals already this season, Lionel Messi has now found the net more times than 16 out of the 20 La Liga clubs alone this term.
Liverpool were the last side to dump Barcelona out of the competition in the first knockout stage in the 2006/2007 season.
A positive fact for Milan fans is that opponents Barca have failed to keep a clean sheet in their previous six knockout games in the Champions League, although Milan have failed to keep a clean sheet in their past eight away ties.
AC Milan have not tasted victory on the Nou Camp surface since September 2000, where they left Spain with a 2-0 win under their belts.
Barcelona to win: 1.33
AC Milan to win: 10.5
AC Milan: 1.67
TV: Live on ITV 1 at 7.45pm and highlights on ITV 1 at 10.35pm
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