Assistant coach Jordi Roura is hoping to leave the San Siro with far better memories than he did over 20 years ago when Barcelona face AC Milan in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last-16 tie tomorrow night.
On the strength of their recent performances in Europe against the Spanish giants, seven-times champions Milan go into Wednesday's clash as clear underdogs. The Rossoneri's last win over four-times winners Barcelona in the Champions League was a 2-0 group stage win at the Camp Nou in 2000.
More recently, the Italians have been eliminated from the competition on the two previous times they have met Barça in the knockout phase: in last season's quarter-finals and in the semi-finals in 2006. Diplomatically, Roura - who has taken over while Barcelona head coach Tito Vilanova continues his recovery from recent surgery on a tumour - refused to count Massimiliano Allegri's side out.
"I don't believe that we are the favourites for this match," Roura told reporters here Tuesday. "Milan are always competitive and we've always suffered when we came here. It makes no sense to designate a favourite. Unless we have a very one-sided match, the tie will be decided in Barcelona in the second leg."
But the 45-year-old would be forgiven for wishing to leave the San Siro with happier memories than he did 24 years ago. In 1989 Roura was an aspiring midfielder for Barça when he suffered a serious knee injury playing against Milan in the European Super Cup - an injury that would bring his career to a premature end four years later.
"Obviously, it's hard for me to forget what happened. I was only 22 years old, and it all but ended my career," Roura added. "But 24 years have passed, I'm back with Barça and I'm back at the San Siro, which is a great stadium with a great fan base. For someone involved in football, it's always great to come back to a place like this."
"I understand a lot of our fans want us to overcome this hurdle and make it to the next round," said Roura. "But if we do, it certainly won't be because we underestimated our opponents."