UEFA Champions League Match Preview: AC Milan Vs FC Barcelona

on February 19 2013 1:39 PM

 

Barcelona and AC Milan are a couple of the biggest clubs in Europe, but when it comes to the two facing off in the last 16 of the Champions League, there will be one clear favorite.

Barcelona have unfinished business after the manner in which they crashed out of the Champions League last season, with Lionel Messi of all people missing the crucial penalty.

Milan are in rebuilding mode, and will not even have the services of Mario Balotelli, who is cup-tied.

This Barca team is arguably the greatest ever in the club game, and many will say the dynasty needs at least another European title to be certain.

The first leg at the San Siro will in many ways decide which way the tie will be headed. If Barcelona dominate -- not just in possession because they will do than anyway - and score a couple of goals, the tie might just be over before the second leg at the Cam Nou.

Italian teams are known for their defending and the Milan rearguard will need to be at their best to stand any chance of keeping the tie interesting.

Milan, though, have shown signs of improvement after a slow start to their campaign in the Serie A as well as the Champions League, where they could only finish second in their group behind Malaga, which eventually led to them drawing Barca.

They have climbed their way to third in the table, after initially looking like they would struggle to finish anywhere near the top four.

And a former Barca player, who was tipped for great things, but could never quite make his mark at the Camp Nou, believes that form bodes well for his side.

"We are going through a positive patch at the moment, we have to believe in ourselves," Bojan Krkic said. "We have to try and work hard and go into the match knowing that we are playing in the knockout stages of the Champions League, against Barcelona, in one of the biggest matches in the world. "This isn't a three point match, this is a game over 180 minutes where goals are all-important. We have to score and also not concede. We have to remain focused for the entire 180 minutes."

It will be a special occasion for Krkic, on loan from Roma, when he takes on his former side. "It is a different game, a special game for me but I don't want to think too much about what feelings I have inside, I just want to concentrate on the game and on the 90 minutes of football that awaits us," he added.

Team News

AC Milan

 

AC Milan will assess forward Stephan El Shaarawy (knee) ahead of the Champions League last-16 clash against Barcelona.

Mario Balotelli is cup tied and Nigel de Jong is sidelined with an ankle injury, but Giampaolo Pazzini (hamstring) is available.

Elsewhere, Daniele Bonera (thigh) and Robinho (knee) are doubts, while Philippe Mexes returns after serving a one game European ban.

 

FC Barcelona

Barcelona is boosted by the return of playmaker Xavi, who has recovered from a hamstring problem.

However, Adriano (thigh) and Eric Abidal (illness) have not made the trip to Italy.

Carlos Puyol should also start in defense alongside Gerard Pique, but David Villa is expected to miss out as he continues his recovery from kidney stones. 

Recent Form

AC Milan: W/W/W/D/W

FC Barcelona: W/D/D/W/W

Probable Lineups

AC Milan: Abbiati (GK); De Sciglio, Zapata, Yepes, Abate; Nocerino, Boateng, Montolivo, Constant; Niang, Pazzini

FC Barcelona: Valdes (GK); Alves, Pique, Puyol, Alba; Busquets, Fabregas, Xavi; Iniesta, Messi, Pedro

Live Stream

Location: San Siro (Milan)

Time:  19:45 GMT and airs live in the United Kingdom on Sky Sports 2/ Sky Sports 2 HD. 

Check Local Times Here: http://www.livesoccertv.com/match/638146/milan-vs-barcelona/

Prediction

AC Milan 1-2 FC Barcelona

I believe Barcelona will beat Milan because Milan will not have Mario Balotelli and Robinho in this matchup. 

Make your predictions in the comments below.