Milan coach believes his team can knock out Barcelona

Feb 20, 2013, 09:10 IST | Agencies

Massimiliano Allegri has called on his AC Milan outfit to be courageous as they take on Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League.

The two European powerhouses come face-to-face on Wednesday at San Siro, and coach Allegri wants his side to play to the best of their abilities and believe they can knock the Liga leaders out of the competition. “It will be a wonderful night tomorrow (Wednesday), where the most successful club will face the best team in the world. We will give our all and face Barca with courage, strength and spirit,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter if we’re facing Barca, Juve (Juventus) or Real Madrid. We need to be focused, run a lot and be good technically. We must try to limit Barca’s ball possession, and be good when we have the ball as they could give away space.

Milan will need to keep Barcelona’s midfield trio of Andres Iniesta (centre), Lionel Messi (right) and Xavi Hernandez in check tonight. Pic/Getty Images

“We have to step onto the pitch tomorrow with the knowledge and awareness that we can knock them out of the Champions League,” Allegri said. The 45-year-old also said he had spoken to the club’s president Silvio Berlusconi regarding the match, and vowed to use the former Italian PM’s advice to attempt to record a positive result.

He added: “I have spoken with Berlusconi about tomorrow’s match. The president always expresses his thoughts and ideas.

“They’re often genius and I listen to them, and then I try to field the best possible formation in order to win.”

The former Cagliari trainer chose the press conference to reveal part of his side to face the Catalan giants, with Allegri confirming that Cristian Zapata and Philippe Mexes will be paired at the heart of defence, while Riccardo Montolivo will start in midfield. The coach was less forthcoming in regards to the fitness of Stephan El Shaarawy, but he did confirm the 20-year-old would start if he was fit.

He added: “Our central defence against Barca will consist of Zapata and Mexes. (Kevin) Constant will be on the left, and (Ignazio) Abate on the right.

Montolivo will play from the start. I still have to decide who the two other midfielders will be. El Shaarawy will play from the start if he’s ready. I will evaluate what is the best formation to face Barca.”

Milan need luck to beat Barca, says Capello
AC Milan will need a healthy portion of luck if they are to surpass Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League, according to ex-Rossoneri coach Fabio Capello (top). “(Milan) need a bit of luck,” he told Sky Sport 24. “There is too much difference at the moment between Barca and Milan. In fact, between Barca and most other teams,” he added.

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