Barcelona vs. AC Milan: Complete Champions League Preview

Samuel MarsdenFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2013

MILAN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 20:  Andres Iniesta of FC Barcelona #8 compete for the ball with Kevin Prince Boateng of AC Milan #10 during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between AC Milan and Barcelona at San Siro Stadium on February 20, 2013 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Barcelona have it all to do on Tuesday night when AC Milan head to Camp Nou for the return leg of this last 16 Champions League encounter.

The Italians executed their game plan with perfection at the San Siro and bring a 2-0 lead to Spain with them.

What it all means is that Barca will need to win 3-0 to go through in normal time. If Milan score then they'll need to win 4-1, 5-2 etc.

If the match finishes 2-0, it will proceed to extra-time and, possibly, penalties.


Team News

The main talking point for the home side is the likely absence of Xavi Hernandez.

He suffered a relapse of a muscle problem that had kept him out for two weeks at the beginning of February, and he is unlikely to feature on Tuesday night.

Victor Valdes will return in place of Jose Pinto—Pinto is playing in the league at the moment as Valdes carries out a four-game ban.

Elsewhere only questions remain about who is best to play where. Andres Iniesta central? David Villa? Alexis Sanchez? Cristian Tello?

For the visitors, Mario Balotelli is unavailable due to his participation in the group stages with Manchester City.

Giampaolo Pazzini has also been confirmed as out of the fixture, the forward suffered a micro-fracture of his fibula in Friday night's 2-0 win over Genoa.

In the absence of those two it is thought either Robinho or M'Baye Niang will partner Stephan El Shaarawy in attack.

Kevin-Prince Boateng and Philippe Mexes have both travelled with the squad despite fitness concerns, though.



Barcelona's 2-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday will count for little if they fail to beat Milan on Tuesday.

The first-leg defeat in Italy, together with two losses against Real Madrid, has raised questions over La Blaugrana's form.

Five defeats since the turn of the year will go someway to being forgotten, though, if Barca can somehow turnaround their first-leg deficit.

Milan are top of the Serie A form table and have risen to third position just behind Juventus and Napoli.

They are unbeaten in normal time this calendar year, although they did lose in the Coppa Italia to Juventus following extra time.

Throw in their Champions League win over Barca, and it's clear how big the hurdle is that Jordi Roura's men have to overcome.


Last Time

It was also recently that Massimiliano Allegri planned perfectly in overseeing his side's 2-0 win over Barcelona.

Kevin-Prince Boateng opened the scoring and Sulley Muntari added the second but the display was built on defensive solidity.

Barcelona's chances were limited in the final third despite enjoying plenty of territory in the middle of the pitch.

They met in the quarter-final of this competition last season too, Barca won 3-1 at Camp Nou to progress following a 0-0 draw in Italy—the same result this time out would see Milan progress.



Barcelona: Victor Valdes; Dani Alves, Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta; Lionel Messi, Pedro, David Villa.

AC Milan: Christian Abbiati; Ignazio Abate, Cristian Zapata, Philippe Mexes, Kevin Constant; Sulley Muntari, Massimo Ambrosini, Riccardo Montolivo; Kevin-Prince Boateng, Robinho, Stephan El Shaarawy

Barcelona 2-1 AC Milan (Messi, Iniesta—Robinho)