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Can Messi Inspire Barcelona Or Will AC Milan Be All Italian And Grind Out A Draw?

by Rob Dore | April 3, 2012

Barcelona v AC Milan
Tuesday 7.45pm – Sky Sports 2

There’s only one top player in the World right now and much to the chagrin of Zlatan Ibrahimovic (29), it’s not Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The question is whether or not Lionel Messi (24) can inspire Barcelona to victory over AC Milan and a place in the semi-finals of this season’s Champions League. At the Camp Nou and with Messi in the team, Barcelona are clear favourites to win in 90 minutes at 2/7 and are a seemingly greater certainty to progress at 1/6. The Catalan side are unbeaten at home in La Liga and the Champions League this season, winning all but two games.

Notably one of these two draws was against AC Milan in the Champions League group stages. A repeat of the 2-2 scoreline from that game back in November pays out at 20/1 and would also secure Milan’s place in the next round on away goals. The current Serie A leaders have drawn the first leg of a Champions League tie at the San Siro on three previous previous occasions. Ajax (2003), Lyon (2006) and Celtic (2007). On each occasion the Italians came back to win the second leg. A score draw would be enough to see them progress tonight. Something they achieved in each of their away group games in this year’s competition. If the 10/1 on them to win in 90 minutes is too daunting then you can get Milan at 7/2 to qualify by whatever means necessary.

“We have to think that Milan will score and they are capable enough of scoring at least one goal. We have to generate as much attacking momentum and danger as possible. I think we will have possession of the ball but we have to find the way to create chances. I think they could score more than one goal, so we have to find the way to score more,” were the words of the ever-magnanimous Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola. Clearly he’s concerned about the attacking threat offered by Milan, as well as being aware of his own side’s potential short-comings at the back. If it is a case of who will let in the fewest goals then 4 or more goals at 5/4 is a decent bet.

Lionel Messi is the clear favourite to score first at 2/1. Which illustrates the value in the money-back special on this game which clicks if the Barca number 10 opens the scoring.

The man who believes himself to be the best player in the world, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, is a hefty 12/1 to score first. The Swedish striker has notched 5 Champions League goals this season to Messi’s 12 but he’s not a player who tends to shine in the big important games. Alexandre Pato (22), who opened the scoring in the Camp Nou in November, may be a wiser choice at 14/1.

Barcelona need to win tonight and at home it’s difficult to bet against them. AC Milan need to avoid defeat and being an Italian side in Europe you really can’t dismiss their chances of doing it. With so much at stake, nothing to separate them on the scoreboard and so much quality on the pitch, you can bet that this is going to be entertaining.

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