Following on from last week’s frustrating stalemate at the San Siro, AC Milan will travel to Catalonia this week with the unenviable task of turning over Barcelona on their home ground, with long odds on offer from Paddy Power as they look to book their place in this season’s Champions League semi-finals.
The Italian outfit will undoubtedly have preferred to come away from last week’s first-leg fixture with a goal under their belt but as it goes, it looks as if they will have to come out with all guns blazing when the two sides meet at the Camp Nou.
Barcelona have one of, if not the, best home record for an elite league side this campaign, dropping just two points all season as far as the league is concerned.
The Catalan giants have scored an astonishing average of 4.00 goals per game when playing at home this season, with only four La Liga sides managing to concede less than that number when travelling to the Nou Camp.
As impressive as that statistic is, Barça’s defence has been just as strong in the 2011-12 term and the Spanish champions have conceded just 0.53 goals per game on average this season.
It would be folly to write AC Milan off based on away disadvantage however, as I Rossaneri currently have the best away record in Serie A, scoring an average of 1.94 this campaign when playing in unfamiliar territory.
However, the Italian league leaders could only earn a draw on their trip to Catania over the weekend, making for considerably lower spirits heading into their Champions League fixture.
Despite their superior position in terms of their respective league, Massimiliano Allegri’s side will undoubtedly find it nearly impossible to unlock the Barcelona back four, or three, depending on what tactics Pep Guardiola employs.
The young Barça manager is coming off the back of a weekend win over Athletic Bilbao but key player Xavi is now a doubt for the Milan game after featuring for just 15 minutes against the Basque side.
The Spaniard is suffering with muscular problems so Thiago Alcantara is expected to deputize in his absence.
A boost for Allegri is that Alexandre Pato, who scored in the 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou when these two met in the group stages, appears to have recovered from his own muscular issues and looks likely to feature, although most probably as a substitute.