Barcelona-AC Milan Preview: Blaugrana out to overturn first-leg deficit
The Catalan giants will be aiming to pull off an historic comeback when they welcome the Rossoneri to Camp Nou for the second leg of their last-16 Champions League tie
By Karthick Arvinth
Barcelona playmaker Xavi is available to face AC Milan on Tuesday after recovering from a thigh problem.
Goalkeeper Victor Valdes returns from a domestic ban, while stand-in coach Jordi Roura will also recall several players who were rested for the 2-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna.
Milan striker Giampaolo Pazzini has not made the trip to Spain after suffering a micro-fracture to his fibula in Friday's victory at Genoa, with M'Baye Niang, Bojan Krkic and Robinho all vying to replace the Italy international.
Philippe Mexes and Kevin-Prince Boateng should be fit to play despite carrying niggling injuries, while Mario Balotelli is cup-tied.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Barcelona are on a 19-match unbeaten run at Camp Nou in the Champions League, winning 15, since a 2-1 loss to Rubin Kazan in October 2009.
- The Blaugrana have won 11 of 24 ties in European competition in which they have lost the first leg away from home. However, no team in Champions League history has overturned a 2-0 first-leg defeat.
- Lionel Messi (pictured, right) needs one more strike to overtake Ruud van Nistelrooy's record of 56 goals and become the second-highest scorer in Champions League history.
- AC Milan are unbeaten in Serie A in 2013, winning seven and drawing three.
- The seven-time European champions have already lost on Spanish soil this season - a 1-0 reverse at Malaga in the group stage. Their overall away record against Spanish opposition is W4, D6, L13.
- Milan hold the unwanted record for the biggest first-leg lead squandered in the Champions League era, when their 4-1 advantage in the 2003-04 quarter-finals against Deportivo La Coruna was overturned by a 4-0 defeat in the return leg.
|Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|Sign up with bet365 for a free bet up to £200|
|Sign up to Paddy Power for £250 in free bets|
|Sign up today with Coral and get a £50 FREE bet - no strings attached!|
|Sign up today with BetVictor and get a £25 FREE BET!|
|Sign up with Betway for a £50 free bet!|
Top 3 Predictions
Barcelona 3-0 AC Milan
- 16.81 %
Barcelona 1-2 AC Milan
- 13.73 %
Barcelona 2-1 AC Milan
- 12.03 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||6 Nov 2013||Barcelona 3 - AC Milan 1|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||22 Oct 2013||AC Milan 1 - Barcelona 1|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||12 Mar 2013||Barcelona 4 - AC Milan 0|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||20 Feb 2013||AC Milan 2 - Barcelona 0|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||3 Apr 2012||Barcelona 3 - AC Milan 1|
|11 Dec 2013||Barcelona 6 - Celtic 1||UCL|
|6 Dec 2013||F.C. Cartagena 1 - Barcelona 4||ESPC|
|1 Dec 2013||Athletic de Bilbao 1 - Barcelona 0||LIGA|
|26 Nov 2013||Ajax 2 - Barcelona 1||UCL|
|23 Nov 2013||Barcelona 4 - Granada 0||LIGA|
|8||Andrés Iniesta Luján||Midfielder|
|13||José Pinto Colorado||Goalkeeper|
|92||Stephan El Shaarawy||Striker|
|2||Mattia De Sciglio||Defender|
The veteran playmaker struggled to create openings in the first leg as AC Milan pulled off a tactical masterclass to collectively close down space in their own half. Xavi will need to produce the perfect performance in midfield and orchestrate a quicker, more purposeful passing game if Barcelona are to breach Milan's well-drilled rearguard.
|Stephan El Shaarawy|
With Giampaolo Pazzini out injured and Mario Balotelli ineligible, the goalscoring burden falls squarely on the shoulders of the 20-year-old striker. With Barcelona struggling to keep clean sheets of late and needing to chase goals on Tuesday night, it should open up space for El Shaarawy to exploit on the break.
While the challenge facing Barcelona is a large one, they will take heart from their clean sheet against Deportivo La Coruna - their first in 14 matches. Milan know that one goal would mean the hosts will have to score four times to progress and expect them to do that and advance to the quarter-finals.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed