Champions League Quarter Final 2nd Leg Preview: FC Barcelona vs AC Milan

Barça versus Milan in the Champions League. Games don’t get much bigger than this. With all to play for after last week’s 0-0 draw at the San Siro Pep Guardiola is quite right to call this the most important match of the season.

Nobody should need reminding of how dangerous Milan can be, when the two sides met at Camp Nou in the group stage in September Milan stole a 2-2 draw despite being outplayed for most of the match, and a repeat of that scoreline would see Barça miss out on a fifth consecutive Champions League semi-final.

Milan’s flight to Barcelona today has been delayed for three hours thanks to French air traffic controllers. The news from Milan is that Pato is travelling with the squad but we shall just have to wait and see if he makes a surprise reappearance. Abate is also fit again though Van Bommel has been left out with a back problem. Milan rested Seedorf, Nesta and Boateng at the weekend and drew 1-1 at Catania which saw their lead over second placed Juventus reduced to two points. Robinho scored the goal in that game but I would not be surprised to see him benched tomorrow in favour of someone who works a bit more defensively such as Emanuelson.

For Barça there are two basics: we must score, and we mustn’t concede. The statistics point in our favour here as we have scored in our last 17 Champions League games at Camp Nou (since the 0-0 with Chelsea in 2009) while we have kept clean sheets in an impressive 15 out of 24 home games this season. The formation of our defence could play a crucial part in the game, and as I say in this week’s Talking Barça, I think there is a very good case for playing Adriano at left back.

In Milan we played Puyol at left back with Iniesta wide in attack but we failed to create much down this side as Iniesta drifts inside and Puyol doesn’t overlap well on the left. We could of course move Iniesta back to partner Xavi in midfield and play either Tello, Pedro or Cuenca up front with Alexis and Messi but this would mean sacrificing Cesc Fabregas, and I have to say I have a strong feeling that this could be a game for Cesc. If Fabregas plays then I’m sure we will see Iniesta on the left again, in which case surely it is better to have a good attacking full back like Adriano.

This leaves us with a choice of two from three for the centre back positions. If we are worried about corners and set pieces then Piqué and Puyol would be the choice, if we want the best pair for covering our advanced full backs then Mascherano and Puyol should play, while for bringing the ball out from the back Piqué and Mascherano would be best, while we shouldn’t forget that Puyol is our only player in danger of suspension for the first semi final if he gets a yellow card.

It’s going to be tense and it’s going to be thrilling. I’m going for a Barça victory with goals from Fabregas and Messi.

Squads:

FC Barcelona: Valdés, Pinto, Oier, Alves, Montoya, Piqué, Puyol, Mascherano, Adriano, Muniesa, Busquets, Xavi, Thiago, Keita, Fabregas, Iniesta, Messi, Alexis, Pedro, Cuenca, Tello.

AC Milan: Abbiati, Amelia, Piscitelli, Abate, Antonini, Bonera, De Sciglio, Mesbah, Mexes, Nesta, Zambrotta, Yepes, Ambrosini, Aquilani, Boateng, Emanuelson, Nocerino, Seedorf, El Shaarawy, Ibrahimovic, Maxi Lopez, Pato, Robinho.

Possible starting XIs:

Barça: Valdés; Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Adriano; Xavi, Busquets, Fabregas; Alexis, Messi, Iniesta.

Milan: Abbiati; Abate, Mexes, Nesta, Antonini; Nocerino, Ambrosini, Seedorf; Boateng; Emanuelson, Ibrahimovic.

My prediction: Barça 2 Milan 0

Date: Tuesday 3rd April. Kick off 8.45pm local time.

If the game ends 0-0 it will go to extra time and then penalties. The winner will play the semi-final at either Chelsea or Benfica on April 18 with the return leg at home on April 24

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20 Responses to Champions League Quarter Final 2nd Leg Preview: FC Barcelona vs AC Milan

  1. jumpingpolarbear says:

    Barca are favourites, but if Milan gets the first goal, the spaniards are in trouble :).

  2. barcacentralnic says:

    There’s a slight doubt over Xavi as he didn’t train with the rest of the team this evening. Barça TV say he should still be ok to play.

  3. Shakalero says:

    Let’s hope Pique plays like last 2 games and we shouldn’t have any issues with Milan

  4. Fredegar says:

    There’s still another possibility: a back three of Puyol, Masch and Piqué, and Alves played as a winger. Could make sense as Milan won’t attack much, I believe they will park a big big bus, so that would allow us more players in the attacking third.
    Good news that Van Bommel won’t be playing, it’s always painful to play against him.
    Huge game, I feel I’ll be nervous the whole day tomorrow…

  5. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    Did Thiago Silva fly with the Milan team???

  6. Xavi says:

    I can’t wait. I love these big Camp Nou nights. We will have to go all out attack, like Pep says Milan will probably score at some point, so we have to be thinking we need two or three. I’d like to see Pedro start with Alexis and Messi. It’s complicated to think who will and won’t start, if Cesc and Xavi aren’t 100% maybe one will start on the bench. I predict an early Barça goal that will open up the game and it will end with a Barça 4-2 win.

    Visca el Barça!

  7. DAYYIB-SM says:

    Hello every one… I missed you my friends of barca on the barcacentral…i hope you all are fine…

    To nights game… no more words i am optimistic and i hope we will trough to semi final..

    my prediction Barca 3-1 Ac milan…goals from messi,sanchez, xavi….

  8. barcacentralnic says:

    Away from tonight’s game – If you haven’t read Sid Lowe this week he gives Javier Clemente a proper kicking http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2012/apr/02/javier-clemente-stunt-final-straw

  9. barcacentralnic says:

    Good news: Xavi trained normally with the group this morning and seems sure to start 🙂

  10. mjmare says:

    Its gonna be a good one…

    I do not think that Milan will sit back and defend, they are in the tie, still and will want to progress, so I see them comming out guns blazing, so Barca needs to be ready and play patiently, opening up space and taking the chances when they are presented. Everything is on the line.

    Pique seems back to his best, and Masch continues to be a beast at the Back
    My line up:
    Valdes-Alves-Pique-Masch-Puyol-Xavi-Busquets-Iniesta-Sanchez-Messi-Cesc

    with Tello and Pedro comming on to add width and pace to stretch Milan

    Barca 2-0

  11. ransae says:

    Reblogged this on Ransae's Blog.

  12. ransae says:

    Both teams are equally good and among the best teams in the world….difficult to predict….Both are winners for me….

  13. barcacentralnic says:

    Pep’s gone for Cuenca! But no Alexis 😦

    Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Puyol, Xavi, Busquets, Cesc, Cuenca, Messi, Iniesta

    Milan: Abbiati; Abate, Mexes, Nesta, Antonini; Nocerino, Ambrosini, Seedorf; Boateng; Robinho, Ibrahimovic.

  14. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    Superb victory. I’m a little concerned about the injury to Pique thou =(

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