AC Milan of Italy will be hosting Spanish giants Barcelona at the San Siro Stadium in Milan on Wed. Feb. 20 in a mouth-watering European Champions League round-of-16 showdown. Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri knows his team is the underdog going into the match, but is still confident that his players can pull off an upset.
The manager is confident going into the game since Milan played Barcelona in both the knockout stage and the group stage in last season’s competition. Milan managed to earn a draw on the road at the Nou Camp in Barcelona in September of 2011 and also earned a draw during the first leg of their quarterfinal meeting. However, they lost the second leg to the Spanish side and were knocked out of the competition by a 3-1 aggregate score. In addition, Barcelona hasn’t been beaten by Milan in their last seven meetings.
Allegri said that Barcelona is currently the best football side on the planet, but his team certainly aren’t going to play the part of the sacrificial lamb and will be going out onto the pitch to win the game. He added that the score will be level 0-0 when the game kicks off and there’s no reason his team doesn’t have a chance over the 90 minutes as Barcelona has been beaten before and will be beaten again.
Allegri said Barcelona usually has at least 65 per cent of ball possession, but it’s what they do with it that will decide the outcome of the game. He wants his players to try and cut down on Barcelona’s possession since they can’t score goals if they don’t have the ball. He adds that his players need to make sure they create chances when they have the ball and take advantage of them.
Milan is hoping to have striker Stephan El Shaarawy back in the squad, but new signing Mario Balotelli won’t be able to play since he has already played for Manchester City during the tournament and he’s now cup tied. This will hurt the Italian team since Balotelli has scored a few important goals for them since joining Milan during the January transfer window. Nigel de Jong could also be missing with an injury. Robinho and Daniele Bonera will be game time decisions.
Barcelona should have playmaker Xavi in the squad for the game, but forwards David Villa and Adriano are likely to miss the match due to injuries as is Eric Abidal. However, Oier Olazabal has made the trip to Italy. Barcelona has won the Champions League three out of the last seven years, but the team knows it still has to work hard to earn results and can’t take anything for granted or they could easily be knocked out. Milan has always been a thorn in their side and Barcelona, the Spanish league leaders, will have to be at their best to beat them.
Predictions for Milan v Barcelona
Of course, Lionel Messi will be the player to watch for Barcelona as he has five Champions League goals already. Pato and El Shaarawy each have two for Milan. This should be an interesting match and if Milan can contain Barcelona’s most dangerous players, should be able to earn a draw here.
William Hill has the latest odds of a Milan win at 5/1 with a Barcelona victory at 4/7 and a draw at 14/5.