Champions League

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Two heavyweights of European football will go head to head as the 2011/12 Champions League gets underway this week with a bang, with Barcelona playing hosts to Massimiliano Allegri’s AC Milan at the Nou Camp on Tuesday.

The reigning champions got their La Liga campaign off to an impressive start by putting five past fellow Champions League side Villarreal before surprisingly dropping points against Real Sociedad last weekend, squandering a 2-0 lead in the process.

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AC Milan will have an intimate knowledge of playing against Spanish giants having gone up against Real Madrid – who eventually lost out to Barcelona at the semi-finals- in the group stages last year, so will be fully aware of the task that lies ahead of them.

Both sides have injury concerns going into this match, with former Barca striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic sidelined for the game against his old side with an adductor injury, while summer signing Alexis Sanchez will also miss the game having been diagnosed with a hamstring injury that is likely to keep the Chilean international out for around two months.

Gennaro Gattuso is also injured for the game but still has to serve his four match ban for head-butting Tottenham Hotspur coach Joe Jordan during an ill-tempered clash at the San Siro last season, while Philippe Mexes is also injured and suspended.

Barcelona slightly edge the head to head encounters between the two sides, claiming four wins from their previous nine games, while Milan have picked up three wins with two draws.

Milan will of course have to mindful of Barcelona’s array of attacking talent led by the irrepressible Lionel Messi, and will look to stop the Catalan club from scoring in the Champions League for the first time in 21 games, a record that stretched back to 2009 and their 0-0 draw with Rubin Kazan.

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