Soccer 360: Barcelona will come up big on Tueday

The wait is over! Exactly two weeks after a dramatic first-leg game, Barcelona and AC Milan meet again – this time at the Kamp Nou in Spain – to finish what was started a fortnight ago. Milan has a deserved two-goal advantage coming from an impressive overall performance in the first game. With the final whistle in the first-leg game came plenty of questions by everyone with even little interest in soccer. Why did Barcelona lose? Did they underestimate the Rossoneri? Was there a hand-ball in the situation of Milan’s first goal? Where was Lionel Messi hiding all game long?

Milan defenders dealt well with Messi (in orange) in the first game. Can they do that again?

Milan defenders dealt well with Messi (in orange) in the first game. Can they do that again?

The most important question, however, has been the one raised prior to the second game in Spain. Can Milan finish the job in the second leg at the Kamp Nou? This question will be answered in the span of 90 – or perhaps 120 – minutes of soccer on Tuesday. Soccer 360 is bringing the latest from both teams’ camps and predict the outcome of what probably is the Game of the Week.

COACHES have the word:

“There is no doubt on Tuesday we have to attack because we have to score goals. But we also can’t get over-excited. We have to balance our need to go forward with being careful at the back.” – Jordi Roura, Barcelona’s assistant coach

“We shall have to see how the match progresses. If we get to a point where we have to execute a tactical revolution then we shall do so.” – Jordi Roura, Barcelona’s assistant coach.

“It would not be a disaster to go out at this stage because no one expected us to arrive here with a two-goal advantage. Everyone thought it would be an easy ride for Barca.” – Massimiliano Allegri, AC Milan coach

“They will put us under a lot of pressure, but we will need to be as serene as possible. They are so good at generating chances that when you play against them you have to be very good in defence and much better in attack. We know we have to try and score a goal and, if possible two, to feel comfortable.” – Masimiliano Allegri, AC Milan coach

PLAYERS have the word:

“We need 90,000 people who believe that we can get through this. Anyone who thinks that we can’t do it, please give your ticket to your children or friends.” – Gerard Pique, Barcelona defender

“The important thing is to play without pressure and be aware that we too can have our say. Milan have quality players and we could also impose our style on them, if we wanted to.” – Stephan El Shaarawy, AC Milan forward

“They will make life difficult for us, and I expect a difficult match. I don’t think that we should only try to defend our lead. We have plenty of quality and must attack and defend well. We should play our own game in possession and try to score.” – Robinho, AC Milan forward


The Barcelona squad was boosted by the return of key midfielder Xavi Hernandez. He returned to training this week after having missed the past two games against Real Madrid and Deportivo La Coruna. However, Barcelona’s head coach Tito Vilanova is expected to be away from the sidelines for at least another month. Vilanova is currently undergoing treatment for throat cancer.

Starting line-up: Valdes; Alba, Mascherano, Pique, Alves; Iniesta, Busquets, Xavi; Villa, Messi, Pedro

The visitors face more squad problems. Influential striker Mario Balotelli – five games, five goals since signing from Manchester City – will miss out due to participating in the tournament for his former team. Striker Gianpaolo Pazzini, who started alongside El Shaarawy a fortnight ago, will miss out due to fracturing his fabula in the league game against Genoa last Friday. Surprisingly, the scorer of the second goal in the first game, Sulley Muntari, will not start the game.

Starting line-up: Abbiati; Constant, Zapata, Mexes, Abate; Flamini, Ambrosini, Montolivo; El Shaarawy, Boateng, Niang


Barcelona has lost three of its past six games in all competitions, the other two coming in the hands of Real Madrid, both in cup and league competition.

The word that best describes AC Milan’s form recently would be ‘hot’, for the Rossoneri have not lost in the past 10 league games and have won four of its past six in all competitions.

However, Barcelona is definitely not Genoa or Chievo, and tradition doesn’t favor Milan. In its past 22 games on Spanish soil, Milan has won four, tied five and lost the remaining 15! One of those visits include a game against Deportivo La Coruna in 2004, when the Rossoneri lost 4-0, despite having a 4-1 advantage after the first leg. Hmmm, doesn’t that make you wonder?

In my opinion, the game at the Kamp Nou tonight will be very different than the one in Italy two weeks ago. I believe that the hosts will start attacking from minute one and will be inspired by an early goal. That would give them control over the game and force Milan to abandon their primary attacking mindset.

In short, I think Barcelona will advance to the quarter-final of the competition with a 3-0 victory, possibly after extra time.

What is your feel for the game? Will Messi come up big or will he be neutralized by the Italians once again? Will Milan’s attacking style pay off? Do you, neutral fans, want penalties?

GAME ON!!! Enjoy it!


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