Milan v Barcelona preview
Allegri will hope it can be third time lucky against Guardiola
Last Updated: March 28, 2012 10:55am
AC Milan and Barcelona on Wednesday night meet for the third time this season as the European heavyweights prepare for kick-off in their UEFA Champions League quarter-final.
Ahead of the first leg at the San Siro, Milan have not beaten Barcelona since October 2004 despite having two attempts in the current campaign's group stages.
They did hold the Spaniards to a 2-2 draw in Spain in September, while Pep Guardiola's defending European champions won 3-2 in Italy three months later to finish top of Group H.
And the two entertaining encounters demonstrated Barcelona are the better team, with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger having not been exactly complimentary about Milan's chances after being narrowly eliminated by the Italian club in the last 16.
Lionel Messi, who has scored 30 goals in his last 25 appearances in the Champions League, including five in the last 16 second-leg rout of Bayer Leverkusen, will likely prove the prominent threat to Massimiliano Allegri's Milan.
However, the Serie A-leading club's goalkeeper, Christian Abbiati, knows Barcelona are not a one-man team.
"It's not going to be a battle between me and Messi," he said. "Barcelona is not just Messi and hence, we will not only focus on him. They are a complete team."
Former Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will lead Milan's attack after scoring twice to give the Rossoneri a 2-1 win over Roma on Saturday.
A fourth straight win in the league kept Milan four points clear of Juventus at the top of Serie A.
The Italians will have to overcome the absence of the injured Thiago Silva, Ignazio Abate and Pato, while midfielder Mark van Bommel serves a one-match ban.
But Allegri welcomes back defender Alessandro Nesta and winger Robinho from injury and Kevin-Prince Boateng made his comeback against Roma.
Barcelona have also put together an impressive run of form, winning their last seven league matches in a row to remain six points behind Primera Liga leaders Real Madrid.
Guardiola's team will be bolstered by the return of defender Dani Alves, who missed the clash at Mallorca through suspension.
David Villa was in December ruled out for the season when he broke his leg in the Club World Cup.
UEFA Champions League Group A
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|1||Paris St Germain||5||13|
UEFA Champions League Group D
|4||FC Viktoria Plzen||5||0|
UEFA Champions League Group E
|4||FC Steaua Bucuresti||5||3|
UEFA Champions League Group F
UEFA Champions League Group G
|2||Zenit St. Petersburg||5||6|
UEFA Champions League Group H