Preview: AC Milan vs. Barcelona

San Siro
© PA Photos
Sports Mole previews the first leg of the last-16 Champions League clash between AC Milan and Barcelona on Wednesday.

AC Milan will be keen to secure a first-leg advantage when they welcome La Liga leaders Barcelona to the San Siro for their last-16 Champions League clash on Wednesday.

Both sides enter the match in strong form with Milan winning four of their last five fixtures in Serie A to move into third position in the table, but they trail leaders Juventus by 11 points.

Barcelona, meanwhile, have won three of their last five matches in all competitions. That run of form has extended their lead at the top of La Liga to 12 points, while they are also in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey.

The last match between these two sides at the San Siro ended in a 0-0 draw in March 2012, but Barcelona were 3-1 winners the last time they welcomed Milan to the Camp Nou in April of the same year.

Milan will be without Mario Balotelli, who is cup-tied, with Giampaolo Pazzini expected to come into the team alongside M'Baye Niang in attack.

Philippe Mexes could also return, but should the Frenchman miss out then Mario Yepes will continue in the middle of the defence.

Barcelona midfielder Xavi is still struggling with fitness, but is expected to take his place in a three-man midfield alongside Sergio Busquets and Cesc Fabregas.

Carlos Puyol should also start in defence alongside Gerard Pique, but David Villa is expected to miss out as he continues his recovery from kidney stones.

Recent form:

Milan: WWWDW
Barcelona: WDDWW

Possible lineups:

Milan: Abbiati; De Sciglio, Zapata, Yepes, Abate; Nocerino, Boateng, Montolivo, Constant; Niang, Pazzini

Barcelona: Valdes; Alves, Pique, Puyol, Alba; Busquets, Fabregas, Xavi; Iniesta, Messi, Pedro

Sports Mole says: 1-2

Milan striker Mario Balotelli celebrates a goal against Parma on February 15, 2013
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