AC Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri believes his team will need to show the same courage and determination they displayed against Barcelona last week when the two teams meet tonight in the return leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
The two sides drew 0-0 in the first match in Milan and their last-eight tie is finely balanced heading to the Nou Camp. “We must play as we did in the opening leg and make sure we don’t concede a goal,” Allegri said.
“This game is like a final and we are ready.” Allegri considers holders Barcelona favourites to progress to the last four but insists his team can pull off a surprise. “I expect the strongest Barcelona side,” he said. “Barcelona remain the best team in the world.
“But I believe there will be two or three situations during tomorrow’s game where the tie could be decided and we need to be smart to interpret them well. I am confident we can score a goal.”
The Rossoneri travel to Spain on the back of Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Catania which allowed Juventus to close the gap on the Serie A leaders to two points.
“Our chances of winning the scudetto remain intact,” Allegri said. “Our focus right now is on the Champions League.” Kevin Prince-Boateng is set to play in support of attacking pair Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho.
Pato fit for action
Brazil forward Alexandre Pato could feature tonight having shaken off a muscular injury. “Pato trained yesterday with the team for the first time in a month,” Allegri said. “I will evaluate his fitness later today before I make my decision.” Defender Alessandro Nesta and midfielder Clarence Seedorf return to the starting XI having rested at the weekend.
Barcelona, meanwhile, are worrying over the fitness of midfielder Xavi. The Spain international sustained a muscular injury during Saturday’s 2-0 triumph over Athletic Bilbao and is doubtful for the encounter. Cesc Fabregas, who missed the clash against Athletic with a back problem, could take Xavi’s place in Barca’s starting XI.
Barca have not lost at the Nou Camp in European competition since a 2-1 defeat to Rubin Kazan in October 2009, but striker Pedro believes his side’s unbeaten run at home will be tested tonight. “It’s going to be a complicated game,” he said. “Milan will not make our lives easy and we will have to play a great game. Milan have great players and we cannot be over-confident.”