Milan, Barça ready for heavyweight clash
AC Milan coach Massimo Allegri has urged his side to "play with courage" when they face holders Barcelona in tomorrow night's UEFA Champions League opener.
A match which historically would pit two of football's superpowers against each other takes place at the Nou Camp. Milan head to Catalonia as Serie A champions, but Allegri concedes they will be underdogs against the side recognised as the best in the world at present.
"We're ready to play this game, a game of great prestige and the first in the Champions League this season," Allegri said.
"We're going to try to make a good start and be balanced in defence and attack. Right now, they are the team playing the best football, they have the highest quality - both individually and as a team - but we have our own quality, we're a good team.
"We're AC Milan, so we must play with courage. In football, you can never take anything for granted. There will be a lot of attention on the match and we must have great respect for Barcelona. But we have qualities to make it a good football game.
"We'll go with peace of mind. Tomorrow is not a final, it's the first game of the round. It's against a team who have recently won a lot but our goal is to go through."
Asked about Zlatan Ibrahimovic's return to the Nou Camp following his bittersweet spell in 2009/10, Allegri said: "He's proved himself and he's proving he can be a champion on the big stage."
Barcelona look to bounce back
Makeshift Barcelona defender Sergio Busquets has urged his Barcelona team-mates to use tomorrow's match to bounce back from Saturday's La Liga disappointment.
Barca let a 2-0 lead slip to draw 2-2 with Real Sociedad in their second game of the season at the weekend, with holding midfielder Busquets operating in central defence at the Anoeta.
"Morale is not the best today but we'll give a reaction," Busquets said. "Milan is another game, another competition, and we'll go for it. With the help and support of our fans we'll make it a great night in the Champions League.
"Milan have great players, especially up front. Ibrahimovic, Pato, Robinho and Cassano are very dangerous and we'll have to keep an eye on them."
Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola is still without first-choice central defensive pair Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique, while forward Alexis Sanchez is out for eight weeks with a hamstring tear.