Ibrahimovic ready for 'best team in world'

Former Barcelona misfit claims his move to San Siro was beneficial to both him and his old club

The Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is looking forward to the chance to face his former team Barcelona in the Champions League tonight. The tall Swede missed the opening match at the Nou Camp in September, a 2-2 draw, because of injury. But he is fit to play this time.

"I was looking forward to that match," Ibrahimovic said. "I was disappointed, but for me playing against a former team is nothing personal. Of course, it's emotional, a big game, but in the end it's like any other game. There's no need to overhype it."

Ibrahimovic spent only one season at Barcelona after a much-hyped move from Internazionale in 2009, in a deal which saw Samuel Eto'o go the other way. He scored 16 goals in the Spanish league but often struggled to fit into Barcelona's intricate passing schemes.

"We will be playing against the best team in the world, without doubt," Ibrahimovic said. "Even when I left, I knew I'd left the best team in the world. But, for me and all the other parties involved, I think the best solution was to leave the club. Given the results for both sides, it was the best solution."

A 1-1 draw against BATE Borisov last time out meant Milan lost ground in the race for first place in Group H. Milan are two points behind Barcelona with two games left to play. But with both teams already qualified for the knockout stages, it is the chance to finish top of the group that is at stake.

Ibrahimovic has scored in the three European matches he has played for Milan this season and another good performance from the Sweden striker could allow the Italian side to jump ahead of Barcelona in the standings. "I think this game is more about prestige," Ibrahimovic said. "It's good to come first, but sometimes it's good to come second. Both can be positive or negative. When you're in the Champions League, you're bound to meet a strong team, and to win the competition you will have to beat the strong teams," he explained.

The Milan striker Antonio Cassano, who is recovering from heart surgery, turned up at the club's training ground on Monday to give the team a boost ahead of the match.

Milan will also be strengthened by the return of Alexandre Pato from injury. The Brazilian played his first game in two months in the goalless draw against Fiorentina over the weekend and hit the post in the 77th minute.

"I don't have major doubts about the team," said the Milan coach, Massimiliano Allegri, yesterday. "I have to decide who will start between Pato and Robinho, and in midfield evaluate how fit [Clarence] Seedorf is this afternoon."

Barcelona extended their unbeaten start to the season to 20 games with a 4-0 win over Zaragoza on Saturday.

"It's difficult to play against Barcelona," Allegri said. "Because the players have skills and they can change the rhythm of the game, they are good at upping the pace or making the game slower.

"We will have to be very balanced, we'll need to play a bit higher up the pitch and make sure Barcelona have less of the ball."

Barcelona beat Manchester United at Wembley last season to win the Champions League for the second time in three years, and their midfielder Xavi Hernandez said his team-mates have as much hunger as ever.

"When you win you live better, you are more respected and your cachet goes up," Xavi said. "Everything is positive when one wins. Unfortunately, a lot of footballers here have experienced the other side of the coin and it is not a nice experience. Hence we must never lose the appetite for titles. Great sportsmen always want to win and that hunger remains intact."

The Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta has a bruised left thigh and will not travel to San Siro as a precautionary measure.

Barcelona are also without the full-back Adriano and the suspended Daniel Alves. Pedro Rodriguez could play for the first time in a month after recovering from an ankle sprain.

In the other group match, BATE will host Viktoria Plzen. BATE have two points, one more than Plzen.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform