Camp Nou awaits as Milan look to finish off Barca

Posted by Sumeet Paul

On Tuesday night, Milan will look to make the impossible possible. Having been written off ahead of the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie with Barcelona, the Rossoneri sealed a memorable 2-0 win at San Siro over a fortnight ago. The question now - can they complete the job at the Camp Nou?

- Tomas: Barca must believe
- Galliani wary of Messi the 'monster'
- Alves targets 'historic comeback'


While it was difficult for all concerned to contain their delight with the result, the players were keen almost immediately after the game to remind fans that it was merely half-time and that an even tougher test would await them.

The game plan will be predictable, and while it won't be pretty, Milan will need to do what is necessary to defend their advantage. Few have travelled to Catalonia and played Barcelona off the pitch, and Massimiliano Allegri's men aren't about to break that tradition.

Tactically astute, compact and organised, the Rossoneri produced an almost perfect performance in the first meeting, as their intense defensive efforts were rewarded.

Closing the space between the lines, keeping their shape and discipline throughout, Milan were able to cope with the constant probing from the Spaniards, and even restricted Lionel Messi to a quiet night.

In what was perhaps Allegri's most impressive match as Milan coach, they defeated Barcelona without necessarily 'parking the bus'.

"We want to stand up to Barcelona; I think we will have to perform better than we did in the first leg. We must remain calm - this is a game like any other," Allegri said in his pregame press conference.

Much of the same will be required on Tuesday, but following the news Giampaolo Pazzini failed to make the trip Allegri must adjust his winning formula slightly.

A straight swap with M'baye Niang looks most probable, which could work in the Rossoneri's favour considering they will rely on pace on the counterattack to secure a precious away goal.

While Milan will ultimately have to defend for large periods, they will need an outlet to hold the line. Despite goals currently being absent from his game, Niang will undoubtedly prove a nuisance for the Barcelona back-line.

The Milan midfield trio will again be vital. The experience of Massimo Ambrosini, combined with the athleticism and vision of Riccardo Montolivo and Sulley Muntari proved to be a major factor in nullifying the Barca threat, and helped make their possession "sterile", as Allegri put it.

Above all else, Milan will need luck. The Catalans were not particularly pleased with the San Siro pitch, and will have all the conditions in their favour on Tuesday. Many will argue that Milan are incapable of keeping another clean sheet and effectively marking Messi out the game twice.

However, Stephan El Shaarawy showed signs in the first leg of being able to attack with real threat as he found space behind Dani Alves, and as predictable as it sounds, he will be a major factor for Milan in grabbing an away goal.

Last week, former Milan manager Arrigo Sacchi said that the current image of Barcelona is unrecognisable to the team that have won so much in recent years. However, he warned Milan that they will risk being beaten if they travel to Spain with fear.

The opening to the game will be key. Despite benefiting from a youthful squad, Milan perhaps lack a sense of experience to deal with pressure situations. If they can contain and frustrate, then they will have chances on the break. However, as Sacchi said, they must take on Barcelona without fear and be ruthlessly clinical if chances come their way in order to complete the job.

Can Milan qualify for the quarter-finals of the Champions League? What are your predictions?

For all the latest Milan and Serie A news, you can follow me on Twitter @italiafooty

ESPN Conversations