Barca On The Ropes

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Lionel Messi has scored in 17 straight La Liga games. Image courtesy of
FC Barcelona won’t just have to overcome AC Milan on Wednesday morning (AEDT) to reach the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, the Spanish side will have to create history, as well. 28 teams have overcome first leg deficits to progress in the Champions League, but never before has a side done it staring down the barrel of a two-goal difference without the benefit of an away goal. Barca faces an uphill task after going down 2-0 at San Siro in mid-February.

The Catalan club can take some solace from the fact it has a stranglehold on opponents when they visit the Nou Camp. It has been over three years since it tasted defeat there in a European tie, and in last season’s final eight stage Milan’s Champions League campaign came to a screeching halt in Barcelona as the home side triumphed 3-1 . Their streak has now reached 19 straight games unbeaten at home, with 15 of those wins.

Barca extended its La Liga lead at the weekend when it took care of bottom-placed Deportivo La Coruna 2-0  as Lionel Messi scored in the league for a record-setting 17th straight game. He and a number of other first teamers spent considerable time on the bench to keep them fresh for the Champions League encounter. They’ll be hoping to have influential midfielder Xavi Hernandez back from a leg injury for the visit by the Italians.

Milan will be missing forward Giampaolo Pazzini - who scored in the 2-0  weekend win over Genoa – due to leg bruising. Defender Philippe Mexes and midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng will both be monitored, with the duo in some doubt for Wednesday’s clash. Mario Balotelli scored again for the Rossoneri in their last Serie A match, but he is unavailable for the Barca clash due to being Cup-tied to Manchester City.

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