AC Milan will host Barcelona in the first leg of what many will consider to be the glamour tie of the Champions’ League quarter-final round on Wednesday night, as plenty of punters pile on the 4/1 on the home side to shock their Catalan opponents.
The two sides have won this competition a total of 11 times between them.
It will not be the first meeting between the two sides either. They have faced one another twice already in this year’s competition, with both qualifying from Group H.
Naturally, Barcelona will be the favourites going into this one, but they cannot expect an easy game against one of Europe’s biggest and most successful sides. However, they will be buoyed by the fact that they have not lost a quarter-final away leg since 2002.
At the San Siro earlier in the season, the Catalans ran out 3-2 winners, but things could have been so different, had Mark Van Bommel not gifted the visitors a lead with a 14th minute own goal.
If anything, this will present Milan with the perfect opportunity to avenge that defeat. It is something they are certainly capable of, especially at home, having beaten Arsenal 4-0 in the first leg of the previous round.
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Furthermore, the Rossoneri have never lost the home leg of a Champions’ League quarter-final in their history, and will be competing at this stage of the competition for the first time since 2007.
One problem facing Milan will be the absence of star defender Thiago Silva. The Brazilian will miss the game through a thigh injury, but Alessandro Nesta was rested at the weekend and should be fit to play. Ignazio Abate is another likely to miss out, with Gianluca Zambrotta coming in for him.
In the absence of Eric Abidal, Pep Guardiola is likely to again play three at the back, with Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique being joined by Javier Mascherano. Dani Alves will take up the more attacking position of wing-back.