Round two between these heavyweight European sides kicks off on Tuesday and we’re eager to see which advances on to the semi-finals.
If you think Milan has what it takes to beat Barcelona, you’ll be handsomely rewarded if you act on it. Sportsbooks have the Rossoneri as high as +1270 in the soccer odds to win, leaving the Spaniards as overwhelming favorites (-384).
What I do know is Milan did extraordinarily well to hold Barcelona at bay in the first leg that ended 0-0 back at the San Siro.
Barcelona controlled most of the possession and had many more opportunities, but the Italians arguably had the better chances to score. Still, holding Messi in check is an accomplishment in itself and Massimiliano Allegri had to be pleased with how his backline held up.
All square after opening leg
The Catalan giants responded well over the weekend though, beating Athletic Bilbao 2-0 at Camp Nou.
Andres Iniesta and Messi scored in a game where Barcelona had five times as many shots as did their opponents. Athletic netminder Gorka Iraizoz was forced into making 12 saves and saved the visitors from a much more embarrassing final score.
Now it’s time for another European spectacle between two of the most historic clubs on the globe.
Barcelona has not lost at Camp Nou all season long in either La Liga or Champions League play. In league play they’ve scored 60 goals in 15 home matches, an incredible ratio.
However, Milan has proven once already this season that they won’t be intimidated by that atmosphere.
In the group stages the Rossoneri drew Barcelona 2-2 at Camp Nou in quite a peculiar game. Pato opened the scoring within 30 seconds for Milan and then the Italians scored at the death to secure the tie. The 89 or so minutes in between were dominated by the hosts.
That had to have left a sour taste in Barca’s mouth, as must have their 0-0 draw with Milan in the first leg. Pep Guardiola’s squad is not used to being shut out and they’ll aim to be much more clinical in front of net this Tuesday.
Too tall of a task for Milan
For those thinking it’ll be a walk in the park for the Catalan outfit, you may want to re-consider.
Milan is an extremely experienced team, with Alessandro Nesta and Massimo Ambrosini headlining the defense, Clarence Seedorf running the midfield and Zlatan Ibrahimivoic and Robinho wrecking havoc further up the pitch.
There’s no doubt the Rossoneri have the attacking power to pose Barcelona’s defense some problems, but I don’t see any way they’ll be able to stop the hosts from finding the back of the net.
Even with Xavi a doubt to play, I like Barcelona to win. They can simply slot in Cesc Fabregas, who was rested over the weekend with this upcoming Champions League clash in mind.
Kudos to Milan for stopping Messi and company in their tracks in the first leg, but it’s going to take a perfect defensive performance to do so twice in a week. I think Barca will have too much and will ultimately get the win.
Soccer betting Pick: Barcelona 3 AC Milan 1