Champions League: Barcelona rally the troops before AC Milan clash


Barcelona iconic playmaker Andres Iniesta says his side need to treat Tuesday's Champions League last-16 second-leg tie at home to AC Milan like a true final. The Spanish side have to overcome a 2-0 first-leg deficit and Iniesta said: "It will be difficult but not impossible. We have to play as if it was a final. That's what our mentality needs to be from the first minute to the last." History seems against Barcelona though as no team have turned around a two-goal deficit in the Champions League without the benefit of an away goal.

AC Milan will miss striker Giampaolo Pazzini, who has nine goals in the last 11 games. He scored the opening goal in last Friday's 2-0 victory at Genoa but had to go off injured with a micro-fracture in his right fibula. "It's a shame, a real shame that he's been ruled out," AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani said. "Will we go there to play for him? Yes, for him too. We have lost an important striker but whoever replaces him will do well."

Barcelona can take inspiration from fellow Spanish side Deportivo La Coruna, who lost 4-1 at AC Milan in the 2003-04 last eight before winning the return leg 4-0. Midfield maestro Xavi is expected to return to the Barcelona midfield after a leg injury, while Lionel Messi will be looking to add to his 51 goals in 41 appearances this season, including five in the Champions League.

"I have absolute confidence that we can do it," added Iniesta. "We had an adverse result. It's not good, obviously, but our mentality and our conviction needs to be that we can turn it around." It will be tough for the Blaugrana as Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova will continue to be absent as he undergoes treatment for throat cancer in New York, with his assistant Jordi Roura taking his role in the dugout on a temporary basis. "We really miss him," Barcelona centre-back Gerard Pique said. "It's a difficult situation to be in, without the boss - it's like a company without its chairman, but we will come through this. Tito is helping us from New York and the most important thing is his health. We're not putting any pressure on him and we'll be waiting for him until he gets better. We'll attack from the off - which is our way of doing things - and we hope to win 3-0."

If you agree with Pique then you might try to place a bet at Bet365 on correct score 3-0, the odds are at 8/1. However, AC Milan are favourites to qualify, priced at 13/20 by Bet365, while Barcelona are priced at 13/10 to go through to the next round.

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