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Scene set for battle royale

Holders Barcelona must pass Milan test at Camp Nou after first leg draw; Bayern missing Schweinsteiger. How they stack up

sports Updated: Apr 03, 2012 01:34 IST
Barcelona,AC Milan,hindustan times

Barcelona and Lionel Messi can write new chapters in the record books on Tuesday if they are able to break out of the straightjacket imposed on them by AC Milan and reach the Champions League semifinals.

The seven-times European Cup winners held Barca to a rare 0-0 draw in their quarter-final first leg at the San Siro last week, their rugged defence denying the in-form Messi a goal with some organised hustling.

Holders Barca are bidding to become the first team to win consecutive Champions League titles and a fifth semifinal appearance in a row would match the record set by arch-rivals Real Madrid between 1956 and 1960.

World Player of the Year Messi needs one more goal to break the Champions League season record of 12 goals, set by himself last season and Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2003 and also notch up his 50th goal of the competition.

Barca will at least be able to rely on their immaculate 'billiard table' playing surface at the Nou Camp after posting an official complaint to UEFA over the poor state of the pitch in Milan last week.

Serie A leaders Milan drew 1-1 at Catania on Saturday and for the second time this season a goal which seemed to have crossed the line was not awarded. Robinho was the man denied.

The Brazilian has been working his way back to full fitness and should again start at Barca although compatriot Alexandre Pato is in the frame again after a visit to a back specialist in the United States looks to have cured his nagging injury.

Alessandro Nesta, who gave Messi a rough ride in the first leg, was rested against Catania but may return while right-back Ignazio Abate returned to action on Saturday.

'Schweini' urges Bayern to close deal
Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger is backing Bayern Munich to finish off Olympique Marseille in Tuesday's second-leg to reach the Champions League semis.

Schweinsteiger is suspended for the return match at Munich's Allianz Arena after picking up his third yellow card during last Wednesday's 2-0 win in France.

"At the moment, there's total desire in the team, and all credit for that," he said after Bayern's 1-0 win at Nuremberg on Saturday that left them just three points behind leaders Dortmund in the German league.

"We have to make the most of our good position in the Champions League on Tuesday thanks to victory in Marseille."

Munich hosts the Champions League final on May 19 and Bayern's fans are dreaming of winning the European title on home soil, but, providing they see off Marseille, Real Madrid are their likely semifinal opponents.

Marseille are competing at this stage for the first time in 19 years.

First Published: Apr 02, 2012 07:40 IST