UEFA Champions League preview: AC Milan v Barcelona
By Football News
AC Milan will need to continue this year's good form if they are to have any chance of defeating their UEFA Champions League nemesis, Barcelona.
Milan are on a six-game unbeaten run, including four wins but head coach Massimiliano Allegri will have to rejig his forward set-up against Barcelona with Giampaolo Pazzini set to play in the middle of a front three for the Italian club.
New recruit Mario Balotelli, who is on fire since moving from Manchester City with four goals in three matches, is cup tied having played for his former club in the Champions League, while Stephan El Shaaraway is struggling with a knee problem.
Allegri is expected to stick with the wide forwards from Milan's 2-1 win over Parma on Friday, Kevin-Prince Boateng and M'Baye Niang, while Pazzini will replace Balotelli in the central position.
Pazzini has not played a minute in Milan's past three games in Serie A but remains the club's second most-prolific goal-scorer in the league with 10 (El Shaaraway leads with 15), although the 28-year-old striker will need to be on top of his game to help his side against their European nemesis.
Milan have failed to defeat Barcelona in the past seven meetings between the two sides, with the Catalans having claimed four victories in that time and twice knocking Milan out of the Champions League.
Last season, Barcelona and Milan drew twice in the group stage before the Catalans claimed a 3-1 aggregate victory in the quarter-finals.
Barcelona head into Wednesday's game following a 2-1 victory away to Granada in La Liga on Saturday.
Lionel Messi scored both goals for Barcelona over the weekend taking his season tally to 46 and 12 in his past nine games for his club.
Despite Messi's regular brilliance in front of goal, Milan should retain some hope against Barcelona' as the Catalans have been in poor defensive form over the past month.
Barcelona have failed to keep a clean sheet in nine matches and if Allegri goes with a front three at the San Siro on Wednesday, Milan should have enough options up front to breach the visitors' defence at least once.