MILAN (Sporting Alert) — Barcelona will have midfield playmaker Xavi available for tonight’s European Champions League last 16 clash with AC Milan at San Siro.
Event: AC Milan v Barcelona Live!
Venue: San Siro, Milan
Date: Wednesday, 20 February
Kick-off: 2:30 pm ET
Live TV Channel Coverage: FOX Soccer and FOX Deportes
Live Radio Stream: BBC Football Sport Radio 5 live
Barcelona and AC Milan have met 15 times in the past with the La Liga side winning six, drawing five and losing four. The Lionel Messi led Barca team defeated Milan 3-1 over two legs on aggregate when the pair met last season.
Former Arsenal player Cesc Fabregas has dismissed reports that Barcelona are the heavy favourites, and is expecting a very tough clash with the seven time European Champions League winners in Milan.
“The match against Milan is key because we want to go to Wembley,” the Spanish midfielder said.
“We believe that they will be a very difficult rival because of the players they have and because of their history. If we aren’t at 100% we will not go through to the next round.
“I’m very eager to win the Champions League, and to win it with Barca would be the best present any footballer could hope for.”
The La Liga leaders, meanwhile, will be with striker David Villa (kidney stones) and Adriano (hamstring) who did not make the trip for the clash.
In the meantime, forward Mario Balotelli trained with the AC Milan team on Tuesday, but he is not eligible for the game having played for Manchester City in the group stages of the competition before transferring from the EPL side in January.
AC Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri admits that his team will go into the clash as underdogs, but will not be short of confidence, given the way they played with the La Liga side last season.
“Milan-Barcelona means we are facing the best team in the world but I do not accept that in the last two weeks everyone has been making us out to be the sacrificial lamb.
“As long as the rules do not change then we start the match tomorrow evening in the same position, 0-0.
“In the last two years we have played well against Barcelona, we played well in the quarter-final last year.
“We know that at the moment they are the best team in the world, but we have to try and create the elements to go through to the next round, although we know that whoever they play against they have an average of 65% possession.
“We have to try and limit their possession, making them less dangerous because they are so dangerous when they go forward. We have to be good at managing our own possession because maybe they will concede something at the back.
“We have to step onto the pitch with the conviction that we can go through to the next round. I know we will do well, then if we are a little lucky we can hope of making the quarter-finals.”
PREDICTIONS and NOTES:
Barcelona 1-0 7/1 and Barcelona 2-0 6/1, given the La Liga sides outing this season you wouldn’t bet against a 1-1 draw at 15/2. Milan’s Stephen El Shaarawy is at 5/2 to score against the Spanish giants, while Lionel Messi, who has done this so many times this season, is the 2/1 favourite to score first in the game. Barcelona have won four European Champions League titles and are one of the favourites to win again. They are dominating the Spanish La Liga standings and are expected to at least get to this year’s Champions League final.