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Only a win will do for Barça


BARCELONA — Only a win will do for Barcelona when they host AC Milan at the Camp Nou in their Champions League quarter-final second leg tonight.

The holders looked lethargic in the teams’ goalless draw at the San Siro a week ago and while Lionel Messi and company could not manoeuvre their way around Milan’s miserly defence, many at the club blamed a pitch described as “unacceptable” for the result.

Now, in the safe confines of the Camp Nou with an “even” pitch, there will be no excuses for Pep Guardiola’s squad, who have won 17 consecutive games at home.

Curiously, the last time they were held in front of their faithful was back in September of last year, in the Champions League group stage — against AC Milan.

A score draw is all Serie A leaders Milan need in Spain, but they will need to find a result without key defensive pillars Thiago Silva and Mark van Bommel, who are both injured.

For Barcelona, Carlos Puyol, rested in their 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday and used in a left-back role in the first leg, will undoubtedly return to the team tomorrow while Cesc Fabregas is also available.

“We’ve dealt with it and today he (Fabregas) was better. So, even though we were forced to leave him out he will be there against Milan on Tuesday (today),” Guardiola said after the Bilbao match.

Barcelona still have faint hopes of reining in La Liga leaders Real Madrid, but will be otherwise preoccupied as they attempt to win back-to-back Champions Leagues.

Massimiliano Allegri’s plan to stifle Barcelona worked a treat in the first leg, with veteran Alessandro Nesta and Daniel Bonera, in particular, hard to breach in defence.

Doing that again will be a tough ask as few teams have been able to keep Barcelona’s attacking armoury at the Camp Nou at bay for long.

In the Serie A, Milan threw away a
1-0 lead against Catania to eventually draw
1-1 and see their four-game winning streak come to a halt.

Former Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be the key for Milan with his strength and power making him unplayable at times.

The pair drew 0-0 at San Siro last Wednesday after a tight and turgid game in which the hosts arguably had the more clear-cut chances. — Soccerway

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