Two European giants meet in the Champions League on Wednesday night as AC Milan welcome Barcelona to the San Siro for the first leg of their last-sixteen tie (Sky Sports 2, 7.45pm). Seven-time European champions Milan go into the match with four-time winners Barcelona as underdogs and they will have to upset the odds if they are to get anything out of this week's match.
Milan are 9/2 to win the first leg on Wednesday but it is Barcelona who go in as 8/15 odds on favourites with Ladbrokes. The draw catches the eye at 16/5 though and that could be the way to go as neither side will want to give an inch in this opening match of the two-legged tie and the improved recent form of Milan will give them hope.
Massimo Allegri's side, who are third in Serie A, have been a team transformed since the turn of the year and they have now lost just one of their last 13 in all competitions. They are unbeaten in their last six and have won each of their last six in a row at home. That form is in stark contrast to the start of the season where they were struggling in Serie A and limped through qualifying in the Champions League.
They failed to win any of their home games during the group stages but things are looking up for the Italian giants. Mario Balotelli has been in inspired form since joining from Manchester City in January and he has scored four goals in three games, although he is cup-tied this week and Giampaolo Pazzini is likely to replace him in a three-man attack.
Pazzini has scored four goals in his last four appearances for Milan and he is a juicy 10/1 to be first goalscorer in the latest betting with Ladbrokes, who are offering to refund losing first scorer bets on the match if Barcelona's Lionel Messi scores first or last. Messi is an obvious choice in that first scorer market as he has now scored 56 goals in his last 74 Champions League appearances, while he has scored 12 in his last nine outings in all competitions for Barca.
Messi scored both goals in his side's 2-1 win at Granada in La Liga at the weekend and he is a best price 11/4 to score first this week. The win over Granada extended Barcelona's lead at the top of their domestic table to 12 points and they have the luxury of focusing on European success during the next few months.
They have only lost two of their last 24 Champions League games but their recent form will be a slight concern as they have won just two of their last five away games. Furthermore, they have failed to keep a clean sheet in nine and the 8/13 for both teams to score could be worth a look for odds on backers on Wednesday.
Milan have the firepower to cause Barcelona problems, although recent Milan v Barcelona fixtures certainly favour the Spanish side. Milan are winless in seven against Barca, a run that stretches back to 2004, and Barca claimed a 3-1 aggregate win in the quarter finals of this competition last year. Messi scored three in three against Milan last year, although it is worth noting that three of the last five meetings have ended in draws.
AC Milan v Barcelona Form
Check the season's statistics for both AC Milan and Barcelona, plus the odds ahead of Wednesday's match.
AC Milan v Barcelona Tips
Tip #1: Draw @ 16/5 with Ladbrokes.
Tip #2: Both teams to score @ 8/13 with Ladbrokes.
Tip #3: Giampaolo Pazzini to score first @ 10/1 with Ladbrokes.
9/2 AC Milan
To Qualify Betting
9/2 AC Milan
Correct Score Odds
18/1 AC Milan 1-0
25/1 AC Milan 2-0
16/1 AC Milan 2-1
12/1 Draw 0-0
8/1 Draw 1-1
14/1 Draw 2-2
8/1 Barcelona 1-0
15/2 Barcelona 2-0
15/2 Barcelona 2-1
First Goalscorer Odds
9/4 Lionel Messi
5/1 David Villa
11/2 Rodriguez Pedro
6/1 Alexis Sanchez
6/1 Cesc Fabregas
8/1 Cristian Tello
8/1 Stephan El Shaarawy
9/1 Giampaolo Pazzini
11/1 Krkic Bojan
12/1 Alcantara Thiago
Odds supplied by Ladbrokes.com, who offer live in-play betting for all Champions League matches.
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