Always the risk of NFL jerseys ending up with egg on face when opposing Barcelona but every team has their price and the Spaniards are too short to win at the San Siro on Tuesday.
Pep Guardiola’s side have been magnificent again this season in attempting to successfully defend both heir La Liga and Champions League titles and the Catalan club remain very much on course to do so.
A goalless draw last time out at city rivals Espanyol momentarily halted Barcelona’s march towards another prestigious double but they maintained their lead at the top domestically from Real Madrid, the pair are a mile clear of third-placed Valencia, and are quite rightly considered favourites to also conquer Europe once again.
I expect Barcelona to get the better of the Italian outfit over the two legs and go on to win the trophy but anticipate will still have a job to do at the Nou Camp in the return and things could be tough going on Tuesday.
Iner Milan, under the ever-confident Jose Mourinho, have flourished in the knockout stages of this competition having beaten Chelsea and CSKA Moscow in both home and away ties of their last 16 and quarter-final clashes respectively and the Portuguese wizard is sure to have them tuned to the minute in their bid to reach the final.
Inter, who unlike Barca have relinquished top spot in their own league, will enter Tuesday’s clash much the fresher having been in action last Friday night, when triumphing 2-0 over Juventus, and it must concern Guardiola and his players that Barcelona’s travel arrangements have been so badly disrupted.
The defending champions will have been on the road for 48 hours by the time they arrive in Northern Italy, given the restrictions on air travel, and I anticipate something along the lines of the 0-0 draw when these two met in the group stages.
Barca often failed to convince away from the Nou Camp in the early rounds and, while in much better form now, Inter will certainly be no pushover.
Goals from Gerard Pique and Pedro gave Barcelona a 2-0 win over Tuesday’s opponents when the pair met on Spanish soil before the turn of the year but while they clearly possess reater individual talent than Mourinho’s men, there’s not much point in heaping more praise on Lionel Messi here, it must be remembered that the visitors do not need to win the game.
This promises to be a wonderful battle on the pitch as well as between the mind’s of the two coaches off it and it is certainly the most eagerly anticipate Champions League match of the season. Hopefully it will also be a profitable one.