Could this be the end of an era for the Catalans?
We could witness history at the Camp Nou on Tuesday as mighty Barcelona face defeat in the first knockout round of UEFA Champions League play since before Pep Guardiola took the reigns in Catalonia. In the past four years, Barcelona have been an implacable force, winning the title on two occasions and being dispatched only by heroic defensive actions from Inter Milan and Chelsea respectively.
This time is different. The Blaugrana were comprehensively beaten in the first leg at the San Siro -- and unlike their 3-1 misadventure in 2010 they failed to get an away goal. Their loss, which featured a controversial goal from Kevin-Prince Boateng as well as a more orthodox (and infinitely more gorgeous) strike from the much-maligned Sulley Muntari, means they'll need to beat Milan by at least three goals in order to avoid extra time in Spain, and with their shaky defending it seems likely that they'll need to notch at least four goals simply to get through to the quarterfinals.
Barcelona are a significantly better side than Milan when they're allowed to play their game. But they've given up the initiative to their guests, who've also seemingly found a way to stop plan A and neuter Lionel Messi. Given all of that, this one's little better than a coin flip -- one which, if lost, will spend the end of an era for the Primera Division leaders, as well as a key moment in the life of Massimiliano Allegri's Milan.
Barcelona injuries and suspensions
In doubt: Xavi Hernandez (hamstring).
AC Milan injuries and suspensions
Out: Nigel de Jong (Achilles), Giampaulo Pazzini (fibula), Mario Balotelli (cup-tied; crazy). In doubt: Philippe Mexès (thigh), Luca Antonini (knee)
Match Date/Time: Tuesday, March 12; 3:45 p.m. EDT (8:45 p.m. CET).
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain.
TV: TVE La Primeira (Spain), Sky Calcio 1 (Italy), Fox Soccer Channel (USA), ITV 1 (UK).
Streaming: Fox Soccer 2Go (USA).
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