After a 0-0 draw at San Siro, AC Milan and Barcelona will face off in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals at Camp Nou to decide who will move on to the semifinals. Barcelona controlled the tempo in the first leg match and will look to do the same at the Nou.
Milan's road record in the Champions League is less then stellar. In the round of 16 against Arsenal, Milan won the first leg at San Siro, 4-0. But they almost blew it as they lost 3-0 on the road against the Gunners. They have no cushion this time against the defending champs.
Despite being first in the Serie A standings, the Red and Blacks are huge underdogs going into this match on Tuesday, April 3. Nevertheless AC Milan certainly still has a shot at pulling off the upset.
There are few players that have the physical size and agility to beat Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol in the air.
The former Barcelona star is one of them. Ibrahimovic has shown the ability to push around smaller defenders, and his head has been a ball magnet for years.
Barcelona was able to dominate possession in the first leg and it's almost certain that the second leg at the Camp will be no different. Milan's only chances to score will be on counter attacks and on set pieces.
Barca isn't going to concede many corners or free-kicks. But Milan will have to capitalize on one or two set pieces in order to have a shot to win, and if they do capitalize, it is likely the 6'5" Ibrahimovic will be responsible.
Milan's best chance of scoring on Barcelona is on the counter attack.
Dani Alves has the tendency to cheat too far up the pitch and leave a lot of space behind him. If Milan can get Robinho in space then he can really cause some trouble for the Barcelona backs. Robinho had a huge opportunity early in the first leg but was unable to capitalize.
While Pique and Puyol are excellent defenders, they have had some trouble keeping up with very fast and quick strikers. Robinho fits that description. The Brazilian has the ability to either create for himself, or for his teammates.
He will have to do both if Milan is going to upset the Catalan Giants.
Antonini was easily Milan's most important player in the first leg. The left back was all over the place and was instrumental in disrupting runs. If Antonini can have a repeat performance in the second leg, the defending champs might struggle again to put the ball in the back of the net.
All of the Milan defenders showed a great sense of discipline, which is crucial against Barcelona. Time will tell if they will be able remain disciplined, especially if Barca goes up 1-0.
But for now Antonini's play in the first leg provides some hope for the Red and Blacks in defending one of the best offenses in the world.
This is something that Milan has absolutely no control over, but nevertheless is very important in regards to them pulling off the upset. Villa was a key piece for Barcelona, and has been sidelined with a broken leg since December.
Without Villa, defenders have been able to key in on Messi, and Alexis Sanchez hasn't consistently been able to keep defenders honest.
Villa also had a knack for scoring goals in big games. Villa was brilliant for Spain in the World Cup and scored in the Champions League final last year against Manchester United. With David Villa out, there is one less problem for Milan's back line to deal with.
Milan didn't concede an away goal in the first leg.
This means that any draw but a scoreless draw would give Milan the tiebreaker. While Barca hasn't lost a game at Camp Nou this year, they have had their fair share of draws. All Milan needs is one or two well-timed counter attacks or executed set pieces, and they will be on their way to the next round.
However, that is a lot easier said than done.
While Barcelona has been vulnerable to draws at home, they are going to be playing with the mentality that a tie is the same as a loss. Barca's offensive attack will be a lot more aggressive at the Camp than it was in the first leg.
Milan was able to get after Barca early in the first leg. If they can replicate that performance and get a goal out of it, Barcelona could be in huge trouble.