Barcelona will head to the San Siro to take on AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League this week, a match the Spanish giants are heavily favored to win.
After all, they are the benchmark for football teams around the globe at the moment with their attacking brilliance and mesmerizing midfield. The Blaugrana enter every single match they ever play as favorites, and given their success so far in 2013, they completely deserve to be.
Yet at the same time, Barca must be incredibly wary of AC Milan in this one.
The Italian powerhouse has been lying dormant heading into this one but could well open up if given the opportunity to attack Barcelona.
Which, if they want to win, is seemingly what they'll need to do.
Barca have lost just twice this season across all competitions but have shown that they are potentially susceptible at the back. They kept just two clean sheets in their past 15 domestic matches, and against an attacking unit featuring the likes of Stephan El Shaarawy, they're certainly no lock to end that here.
Keep in mind also the very fact that this fixture is a home game for Milan and an away game for Barcelona. Playing well at the San Siro is certainly no easy feat for opposing teams; winning there against a boisterous Rossoneri crowd is even harder.
Milan have allowed just 12 goals at home domestically in 13 matches and have won six in a row at the San Siro coming into this key fixture against Barcelona. They have momentum and self-belief, and whilst they won't be considered the favorites against the potentially lethal attack of Barcelona, they certainly have a huge chance to win at home here.
The Italian giants certainly won't be embarrassed here.
Veteran defender Philippe Mexes, who will likely be tasked with stopping Lionel Messi, commented during the week (via BBC Sport) that "even if we're the underdogs, we believe in ourselves." Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri went a step further via ITV:
Milan-Barcelona means we are facing the best team in the world but I do not accept that in the last two weeks everyone has been making us out to be the sacrificial lamb. As long as the rules do not change then we start the match tomorrow evening in the same position, 0-0.
We have to step onto the pitch with the conviction that we can go through to the next round. I know we will do well, then if we are a little lucky we can hope of making the quarter-finals.
And Allegri is completely correct in his assessment—once the match begins, the score will be 0-0, and Milan will have the exact same opportunity for victory that Barcelona has.
The Spanish giants might be attracting all the attention and favoritism, but at home, the Rossoneri will certainly not be a pushover when this one starts.
Barca have already lost on the road in the Champions League earlier this year, going down to Celtic in the group stages of the competition. There's little doubting that Milan possess more attacking substance and depth than Celtic do; the biggest question now seems to be whether they can pull off a similar result as the Scottish minnows did earlier in the year.
Either way, this one won't be as one-sided as it seems.
Can AC Milan pull an upset over Barcelona in the Champions League?
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