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An intriguing subplot to this fixture is another reunion of Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic with the club where he spent a single, controversy-ridden season in 2009-10.
The Sweden forward missed Milan's group game in Barcelona, but scored against the side he left under a cloud in the reverse fixture at the San Siro.
Ibrahimovic—who fell out with Barca boss Pep Guardiola in spectacular fashion—is in some of the best form of his career at the moment. His brace against Roma at the weekend took his Serie A goal tally up to 22 in 23 appearances, and he has scored in five of his last six Champions League games.
Barca defender Gerard Pique became friends with Ibrahimovic during the striker's year in Spain and is all too aware of the threat he poses. Pique said:
Ibra is a very difficult opponent. He's a complete player—he's good in the air, he can play on the floor, he can play with his back to goal and hold the ball up. We'll have to be very concentrated so we don't make any mistakes or leave space when he has the ball.
It's a pleasure to play against him as he's one of the best players in the world right now. It was a pleasure to have him at Barcelona and he contributed to our success.
We will do everything to ensure he doesn't play well or score but it's not just our defence, but the whole team that will have to play well to contain him.
Then again, Barca have a pretty handy forward of their own. Lionel Messi has scored an incredible 53 goals for Barca this season, including 18 in his last games in all competitions.
The reigning Ballon d'Or scored in Milan earlier in the season, albeit from the penalty spot. Milan coach Massimo Allegri has seen too many sides try and fail to contain Messi, and said his team would not attempt to park the bus as Inter Milan successfully did in the 2009-10 semifinals. He said:
It's difficult for us to play a match in the style of Mourinho's Inter, they were a more physical side. We will face Barcelona with courage, motivation and serenity. We have to try and make as few mistakes as possible and play with an attacking mentality.
Milan have never lost the home leg of a Champions League quarterfinal in 14 ties, but if that impressive run is ever going to be ended, then Barca are the team to do it.
Since losing the aforementioned semi to Inter, Barca have scored 60 goals in 21 games in the competition and lost just once. They have averaged 74.3 percent possession in their European games so far this term and are unbeaten in their last five meetings with AC Milan.
As always, the last word has to go to Ibrahimovic. On the subject of a reunion with Guardiola, he said:
Will I extend my hand to Guardiola? I don't know. We've other things to think about. It's not a big problem, I'll do my thing and he'll do his. There's no time to think about the past.