AC Milan v Barcelona: Champions League Match Preview
The UEFA Champions League last-16 first leg encounter between AC Milan and Barcelona will see two European giants go head to head once again, for a place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
The clash will see Milan, who have lifted the famous trophy on seven previous occasions against the four-time winners and their talisman Lionel Messi at a sold-out San Siro Stadium.
It could be a match befitting of the final itself at Wembley Stadium in May, but when the Rossoneri and Blaugrana go head-to-head on Wednesday night, it will spring a few memories of past encounters between the two giants.
Milan have lost a number of experienced and crucial members of their side in the summer. Gennaro Gattuso, Clarence Seedorf, Allesandro Nesta, Zalatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva all left the club, making this term a much more difficult task.
The Italians have failed to defeat their opponents in the past seven meetings, with Barca having claimed four victories in that time and twice knocking the Italians out of the Champions League.
In 2011, Barca won a pulsating group stage match in Milan 3-2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was on target against his old side, but the magic of Messi and Xavi won a lung-busting clash in the end.
Last season, the teams drew twice in the group stage before the Catalans claimed a 3-1 aggregate victory in the quarter-finals with Messi converting two first-half penalties.
Lionel Messi recently scored his 300th and 301st goals for Barcelona. In total Messi has scored 44 goals in all competitions this season, including a hat-trick in Barca's 5-4 win over Deportivo and four goals in the recent 5-1 win over Osasuna. Leo Messi will as always be a major threat for any side, but it is Milan who will have to battle him Wednesday night.
Probable Line Up: AC Milan -
Abbiati; Abate, Zapata, Mexes, De Sciglio; Montolivo, Ambraosini, Nocerino; Boateng, Pazzini, El Shaarawy.
Unfortuntely for the hosts, Mario Balotelli is cup tied for the competition. However, the Italian side are on a run of one defeat in 13 league games as they look to climb the Serie A table and qualify for next years campaign. Phillipe Mexes will return to the side after his one game European ban, whilst Robinho is a major doubt.
Probable Line Up: Barcelona -
Valdes; Alves, Pique, Puyol, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Fabregas, Pedro, Messi, Iniesta.
Barcelona are boosted by the return of playmaker Xavi, who has recovered from a hamstring problem. However, Adriano (thigh), Eric Abidal and David Villa (both illness) have not made the trip to Italy.
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