Milan’s Stadio Giuseppe Meazza will witness Champions League action on Wednesday, November 23, 2011, when AC Milan host champions Barcelona in a Group H encounter. This can be classified as a clash of titans as the La Liga champions take on the defending Serie A title holders who have won the European Cup seven times, in the past.
The first leg match between the sides, hosted at Camp Nou, by Barcelona, ended in a 2-2 stalemate, after Milan took the lead on the back of an early strike by Alex Pato. Therafter, Barca controlled the play and Pedro on 36 minutes and Villa, five minutes after the interval, put the hosts ahead.
Milan, however, salvaged a draw, thanks to an injury time equaliser by Thiago Silva. With both sides virtually assured of qualification to the knock out phase, Wednesday’s rivals would each be looking to top the table and earn a more favourable draw in the round of 16.
Milan will look to ex-Barca striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to provide the inspiration against his former club. Ibrahimovic missed the first leg match and his presence could make a huge difference to the Italian squad against their formidable rivals from Spain.
As ever, Barca will be relying on their ever-reliable star, Lionel Messi, who has added five goals and two assists in the Champions League to his 14 goals and five assists in the la Liga, to make him one of the most prolific goal scorers this year. The Milan back-line is certain to be tested sorely by the Argentine genius.
Milan could give a start to midfielder Alberto Aquilani who starred as a substitute in the first leg, in the process exposing Barca’s defensive midfielders who were unable to keep pace with Aquilani. Midfield possession could be the key as proved by Barca who hung on to the ball for three quarters of the game and that pushed Milan on the defensive thereby allowing Barca to get escape with a draw. Drawing lessons from that game, Milan might opt for attack as the best defensive strategy against a marauding Barca front-line.
Both teams are relatively injury free as compared with the first leg and Milan are likely to find a fit Barca hard team to contain, especially with the return to football action by Andres Iniesta and Alexis Sanchez.
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An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.