AC Milan vs. FC Barcelona: 5 Reasons La Blaugrana Will Lose the First Leg

Hristina Tisheva@soddisfazioneCorrespondent IMarch 28, 2012

AC Milan vs. FC Barcelona: 5 Reasons La Blaugrana Will Lose the First Leg

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    Today the defending European champion FC Barcelona faces AC Milan—a team that could have been knocked out in the Round of 16 after nearly losing their four-goal lead against Arsenal.

    The first leg match of the Champions League quarterfinals is at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in Milan.

    Barcelona are the favorites in this match and they will probably win on aggregate but the game at San Siro won’t be easy for them. Here are five reasons they will lose the first leg.

Barca Have a Poor Record Away

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    La Blaugrana look up at Real Madrid in the La Liga table, partly because have been inconsistent playing away.

    They have lost two games away, but have drawn five, out of 15. Overall, Barcelona are 8-5-2 away in La Liga.

    Barcelona are beating La Liga opponents by an average of 3.69 goals per game this year at home. Away, they are winning by only 0.5 goals per game.

    As for international competitions: Barcelona played a total of eight teams in the Champions League and also in the Copa del Rey. At home, they won by 3.38 goals per game, but away by only 1.88 goals.

AC Milan Play Great at San Siro

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    Today’s game won’t be easy for the Catalans not only because they are in weak away form. It’s also because AC Milan is in great home shape.

    In Serie A, out of 14 home games, AC Milan has won nine games, drawn four, and lost just one.

    Playing at home seems to be the main advantage for the Rossoneri. We all remember how dominant the Italian team was a month ago scoring 4 goals against Arsenal.

    But we also remember how two weeks later in London the same dominant team gave analysts reason to believe that Arsenal were going to mark the biggest comeback in Champions League history. Arsenal beat AC Milan 3:0 but lost 3:4 in aggregate.

AC Milan Are Returning Key Players

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    AC Milan are in a position to make it very difficult for Barca because some key players are returning.

    Midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng is back. He holds the midfield and the attack together. He had been out since 15 February because of thigh problems.

    Defender Alessandro Nesta, who had been out since 4 February, is also returning.  Boateng and Nesta were on the bench this weekend, with Boateng coming on in the second half.

    Midfielder Clarence Seedorf is taking it slow after being out since Feb. 15. He was on the bench but did not play Saturday. His status for today is uncertain. Robinho injured his ankle and has been sidelined since March 14.

    The bad news for the Rossoneri: Thiago Silva went off with a thigh injury this Saturday when AC Milan beat AC Roma 2:1. Mark Van Bommel also missed the game because of a back problem.

Barca's Style Fits Camp Nou

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    Barcelona play unique soccer in many ways. A lot of them are obvious, however, when they play on their own pitch.

    One reason Barcelona may be under-performing away is that smaller fields are less suited to their free-flowing playing style.

    Barcelona start hunting for the ball the instant they lose possession. They immediately start pressuring their opponent. Even Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitted that.

    If La Blaugrana haven’t won the ball back within seconds after losing it, they retreat and build a compact 10-man wall. Then they start pressing again. But they need space for that. Adjusting to smaller terrains may take some time.

It Would Be Historic for La Blaugrana to Repeat

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    If Barcelona won the Champions League, they would be the first team to defend the trophy successfully in the current format.

    Josep Guardiola would become only the second coach after Bob Paisley to win it three times.

    But to do that, Messi and teammates have to mobilize some of its unbeatable home form when they play away from Camp Nou.