“Attention Barca! Milan will apply today on Camp Nou bunker tactic”. This is the warning of the Catalan newspaper “Sport” before tonight’s game between Barcelona and Milan in the Champions League second leg of the last 16. It is a capital game for the season of the leader in Spain, who must recover a handicap of two goals after they were defeated by Milan in the first leg with 2-0 at San Siro.
Although Messi shines in the Primera Division, scoring in 17 consecutive matches, the Argentinean has not found the pace in significant matches in the last two weeks, being invisible in the tour match from the San Siro. And if in terms of sporting things seem to be getting better for Barca, who has not received goal in the Saturday’s match against Deportivo, for the first time in 13 games, statistics scares the Catalans! Neither team qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League after losing 2-0 in the first round.
Also the history is not with Barca. In six matches played between the two teams at Camp Nou, Barca has defeated only one time with required qualification margin. It happened in 1959, when the Catalans had won with 5-1 against Milan in the Champions League! Despite these factors, the Catalan players are confident in their own forces, wishing to avoid the first elimination in from th Champions League in the knockout round in six years. That although Milan is undefeated in 2013, managing seven wins and three draws in all competitions. And coach Allegri is preparing again a defensive tactic, designed to completely isolate Xavi, Iniesta and Messi, as in the first leg. “We are not afraid of any opponent. We are ready for any fight,” said Andres Iniesta yesterday.
Milan is the only team in Champions League history who lost qualification although won at three goals diference in the first leg. It happened in 2004, when the Rossoneri won 4-1 against Deportivo in the tour leg of the Champions League quarterfinals, and lost 4-0 in the second leg on the El Riazor.
Barcelona completed 5.447 passes in the Champions League this season, with 3.251 more than Milan.
Messi was the top scorer in the Champions League last four seasons. This year, the Argentinean is 5th place with five goals, three goals distance by the leader Cristiano Ronaldo.