Why Pedro Rodriguez Is Key to Barcelona Victory Against AC Milan

Samuel MarsdenFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2013

SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN - JANUARY 19:  Pedro Rodriguez of FC Barcelona celebrates with his teammate after scoring his team's second goal during the La Liga match between Real Sociedad and FC Barcelona at the Anoeta stadium on January 19, 2013 in San Sebastian, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

If you were walking down Las Ramblas in Barcelona on a sunny day, it would no doubt be Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta that catch your eye as you stroll past the caricatures and the mime artists.

Yet while they dazzle, Pedro Rodriguez is the sort of guy that has the flight of hands to have your wallet away without you even noticing.

This could be the prospect AC Milan face on Wednesday night, in the hotly-anticipated Champions League Last 16 fixture between the two, at the San Siro.

Before I continue, I feel inclined to add that I have faced no such problems on Las Ramblas—particularly from Pedro—but the stereotype exists among tourists in Catalunya's big city, rucksacks worn the wrong way around are testament to that.

So on Wednesday night, when Phillipe Mexes and company are rightly drawn to the headlights of Messi and Iniesta. In the shadows, Pedro could once again be the key to another big match victory for La Blaugrana.

The 25-year-old is quite well-acquainted with a big occasion. In his first full season with the first team (2009/10) he became the first player to score a goal in each six club competitions in not just one season, but one calendar year too.

Among those goals were one in the Spanish Super Cup vs. Athletic Bilbao, the winner in the UEFA Super Cup—in extra time against Shakhtar Donetsk—and one in the World Club Cup semifinal against Atlante FC.

He also scored on his El Clasico debut that season—a 2-0 win over Real Madrid—and against Inter Milan too, as the Italians knocked Barca out of the Champions League at the semifinal stage.

Since that season, Pedro has continued to demonstrate that he has the head for the big occasion. Goals against both Real Madrid and Manchester United, in the semifinal and then the final, played more than their part in La Blaugrana's 2011 Champions League success.

It was also his double that helped his side to a comfortable 3-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final last season.

In this period he has also become a World and European Champion with his country, always involved heavily throughout the tournaments and seemingly a favourite of Vicente Del Bosque.

Eleven goals in 24 appearances for La Roja have been boosted by a recent brace in a friendly against Uruguay and a hat-trick in Spain's 2014 World Cup qualifier against Belarus.

And yet despite all these big game goals hardly precipitating rarities, Pedro is not enjoying his most explosive season to date.

Since the turn of the, year though his form is looking to peak towards the business end of the season—four goals in 2013 are testament to that—and but for the woodwork, it would be many more already.

When Barca rotate he's invariably among those rested. Expected to start on the right of a front three on Wednesday, if Milan focus too much on Messi and Iniesta then Perdo Rodriguez Ledesma could once again be primed to do the damage from the shadows.