Champions League Betting Preview: Barcelona - AC Milan

The bookies do not give the visiting Rossoneri much of a prayer, but betting expert Ed Malyon reckons the Italians might hold out for the first half at least

Barcelona versus AC Milan is a fixture that conjures up wonderful images of Romario doing battle with Paolo Maldini, or Hristo Stoichkov jostling with Mauro Tassotti. The Blaugrana host the Rossoneri, with the Catalans warm favourites with the bookies @ 1.22.

Cast your mind back to May of 1994 and it was Barca who were once again tipped to beat the Serie A side in that year's Champions League final. Milan were missing many of their key players, such as Franco Baresi and Marco van Basten, and most pundits of the day fancied a second Barcelona European crown in three years.

Johan Cruyff's Barcelona had a solid spine of Ronald Koeman, Miguel Angel Nadal and a certain Pep Guardiola. On that day, Fabio Capello’s Milan overturned the odds and thrashed the Catalan outfit 4-0 - and William Hill are offering 200/1 (201.0) for an unlikely repeat of that scoreline.

Both sides drew 2-2 at the weekend but otherwise boast exemplary form. The hosts haven’t lost in their last 12 competitive games, and even that was after they’d bagged the league title. Barcelona's home record in the Champions League is also impressive. They are unbeaten in 10 since their shock reverse against Rubin Kazan in 2009.

Visitors Milan are unbeaten in nine Serie A fixtures, but, amazingly, have won the opening fixture in each of their last 10 Champions League group stage campaigns. If they pull that feat off again tonight at the Camp Nou, backers will get the Serie A champions at 8.50.

On head-to-head, these sides have met six times this century (which is a relevant time period to use). Of those games, each has won two, lost two and drawn two, painting the picture of an even match.

Of course, events over the past 18 months have seen things change. Whilst Milan’s romp to their Scudetto last season was impressive, Barcelona have set about assembling one of the all-time great teams in history and are winning trophies with ease.

Expecting Milan to attempt to keep this talented side at bay whilst trying to nick a goal on the counter is most likely. On this basis, if you back Milan to hold out for the first half, only to eventually cave in to the pressure, the Draw/Barcelona double result is a good bet at 3/1 (4.0).

Best Bet: Half-time draw/Barcelona second half @ 4.0

Match Odds: Barcelona 1.22, Draw 5.50, Milan 8.50 (William Hill)

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Ed Malyon is a freelance sports writer focusing on the football betting markets. His personal website can be accessed here.