Barcelona Vs AC Milan
Mar 12, 2013 at 7.45pm (UK)
It all comes down to this, AC Milan have to do what they did at San Siro two weeks ago all over again and try and stop the Catalans in front of their home crowd. Barca host the match with a 2-0 deficit to overcome and have to be at their very best if they want to qualify for the Quarter finals for the sixth consecutive season. They will have no room to make an error while AC Milan will settle down deeply and try to score an all important away goal on the counter.
For Barcelona the main concern would be the threat that Stephan El Shaarawy posses. The youngster terrorized Barcelona’s back-line at the San Siro and especially Dani Alves found it hard to get a grip on him. However with Pazzini out of the clash with an injury, Shaarawy could be played in a more central role or youngster Niang could also be deployed upfront. What ever the line-ups are, there are just two possibilities: either Barca will destroy Milan as if the first leg was never played or Milan will hold on and score a vital away goal to put the tie beyond the Spanish giants.
The Key match-ups:
Milan’s faithful old-warhorse Massimo Ambrosini will need another timeless display in front of the defense. He’ll most likely partner up with Riccardo Montolivo and Sulley Muntari in the midfield, but will sit in front of the back line and try to disrupt as many Barcelona attacks as possible.
As we all know, it is not an easy job to keep hold of the ball when you are playing against Barcelona and especially when it’s in their home, Leaving teams no choice but to hit them at counters. Milan without Giampaolo Pazzini, will be much faster on the break, as they no longer have a point of reference up top. El Shaarawy and Boateng will be in charge of spearheading the counter with their speed and athleticism and Jordi Roura has to come up with a plan to stop them as they cannot afford anymore slip-ups which will make it impossible for them to come back.
All Barca have to do is to try and stop Milan from deadly counter attacks but on the contrary the Italian side have to be on their toes throughout the 90 minutes to stop wave of attacks that come their way and parking the bus like Chelsea is not the correct answer as it could back-fire anytime. Milan should try to replicate their exact tactical formula used in the first leg. Although they will expect to see a little more than 30% possession, the key will be to not simply boot the ball as far forward as possible, and keep it on the ground on the counter.
Barcelona rested Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Jordi Alba and Victor Valdes during their weekend game for various reasons and will be returning to the starting line-up tonight. Xavi who had trouble with his hamstring has been training since the weekend match and is expected to start.
For Milan, as said earlier Pazzini will be unavailable due to injury concerns and Balotelli will also sit out due to his cup tie with Manchester City. Elsewere Philippe Mexes and Kevin-Prince Boateng should both be available despite carrying minor injuries.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdés; Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Alba; Busquets, Thiago, Iniesta; Sánchez, Messi, Pedro.
Milan (4-3-2-1): Abbiati; Abate, Mexes, Zapata, Constant; Montilivo, Ambrosini, Muntari; Robinho Boateng; El Shaarawy.
- The last time Barcelona exited the Champions League at the last 16 stage was in 2006/07. It was against Liverpool.
- Barcelona have failed to score in their last two Champions League games for the first time since April 2008.
- Barcelona have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last six knockout games in the Champions League at Camp Nou (four wins, two draws).
- AC Milan’s last victory against Barcelona at the Camp Nou in the Champions League was in September 2000 (2-0). Since then, they’ve had two draws and two defeats.
- AC Milan have conceded at least three goals in four of their last six away games in the Champions League knockout stages.
- AC Milan have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last eight away games in the Champions League
- Lionel Messi only made one touch inside the opposition box in the first leg and didn’t get a single shot on target.
- Stephan El Shaarawy has been directly involved in four of Milan’s last eight goals in the Champions League (two goals, two assists).
Blast from the past: Milan’s previous matches at Camp Nou[youtube width="500" height="300"]9XzcMIVJFVI[/youtube]
A 2-1 win for Barcelona and Milan going through with an 2-3 overall aggregate.