What the Italian Media Are Saying About AC Milan vs Barcelona
Milan eagerly await what Massimiliano Allegri described as "the strongest team in the world" to Milan Chanel (h/t Football Italia).
Barcelona are coming to town and are red hot favourites despite playing in the Rossoneri's back yard.
The Stadio Giuseppe Meazza will play host to the third meeting between two of Europe's most illustrious clubs for the third time in 18 months.
The last result at the San Siro was a 0-0 in the first leg of their knockout tie having played each other in the group stages earlier, the Blaugrana triumphing 3-2 on that occasion.
Here is what has been said in the Italian media in the build up to this massive game.
Berlusconi: "Flamini or Muntari on Messi"
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Silvio Berlusconi has spoken out in the build up to the big game against Barcelona.
The Milan president voiced his opinion on how to stop the three-time reigning Ballon d'Or winner.
It seems as though the former Italian Prime Minister has an answer (via Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport), supposedly Mathieu Flamini or Sulley Muntari can man-mark Lionel Messi.
When you take a moment to think about that seriously, it begins to hit home how ridiculous that theory is.
To expect one of those two aforementioned players to be able to stop the world's best player is frankly naive, and Massimiliano Allegri will surely be wiser than to take Silvio's advice.
Allegri: "El Shaarawy Will Be There"
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Massimiliano Allegri has broken the news that Milanistas were praying to here in the pre-match press conference, Stephan El Shaarawy will return (via Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport), having missed the 2-1 victory over Parma as a precaution.
Il Faraone has carried Milan all season, well, until a certain Mario Balotelli arrived.
It is therefore natural that the 20-year-old is slowing down somewhat, having taken on such a great workload for a player of little experience.
Without Balotelli, who is cup tied from his time with Manchester City, El Shaarawy will pose the greatest threat to the Blaugrana and will face off against Dani Alves in an intriguing battle.
Montolivo: "It Will Be a Crazy Game"
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Riccardo Montolivo was the designated player for Milan in the press conference and the former Fiorentina player must be excited at the prospect of facing Barcelona in the knockout phase of the Champions League—a prospect that was never possible at Fiorentina.
The Azzurri international has described the game against Barcelona as "crazy" (via Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport), perhaps showing how inspired he is to play a game of this magnitude.
That might be an indictment of how much Milan have slipped lately, or maybe just a sign of the colossus task that awaits.
Like everybody else at Milan, Montolivo was talking about Lionel Messi, "he makes the difference, but not only him."
The former Viola star, often compared to Andrea Pirlo, spoke of his admiration for Andres Iniesta, describing him as "one of the best assisters in the world."
Without a shadow of a doubt, Montolivo needs to have one of the best games of his career in order for Milan to prosper against Tito Vilanova's side.
Tuttosport's View on the Big Game
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Tuttosport, Turin's daily sports newspaper, has gone with a different take on the big game, unsurprisingly.
In a slightly more negative take, the newspaper led with a focus on Massimiliano Allegri's future, having been linked with the soon-to-be vacant job at Roma by Gazzetta della Sport (h/t Football Italia), once Aurelio Andreazzoli has guided the Giallorossi to the end of the season.
"Still talking about my future? Enough" (via Italian newspaper Tuttosport), reiterated the Milan manager who has acted so calmly in light of constant speculation as to whether Milan would fire him earlier in the season when the results were often appalling.
A key point that Tuttosport make is how Milan will have to adapt to playing without the ball. Allegri poignantly states, "Barcelona have 65% of possession, when they play against Real Madrid, with Milan, with whoever."
If Stephan El Shaarawy is fit, along with M'Baye Niang on the other flank, Milan have the players to play a counterattacking game.
Gattuso: "Anything Can Happen"
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Gennaro Gattuso has spoken out ahead of the big game to Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport.
The Milan legend stated, "Barcelona are really strong but football is strange, anything can happen."
Il Ringhio revealed that Puyol once spoke of his desire to play at Milan, confirming, "we spoke about it in the past."
Interestingly, the 35-year-old Sion midfielder spoke of the complete opposite situations of the two clubs over 10 years ago.
With Milan triumphing at the Camp Nou in 2000, "the public lamented Barça that they weren't competitive, now the music has changed."
"Milan also, even after 25 years of success, must wait a some years to return to the top," Gattuso frankly stated.
Regardless of where each club stands at this moment, they are both cemented in the history of European football and will continue to do so in the coming years. Wednesday will be yet another great moment in their long history.