Barca to blow Milan away
Ben Linfoot previews Wednesday's matches in the Champions League and he's backing Barca to make a bright start in Milan.
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Barcelona's dominance is obvious to everyone and punters should be wary of challenging such supremacy ahead of their Champions League last-16 first leg at AC Milan on Wednesday night.
Barca are 4/7 to win at the San Siro and Lionel Messi is the same price to score anytime, but I couldn't really describe such odds as prohibitive.
Messi has scored 42 goals in La Liga and the Champions League this season and his team are top of the Spanish league by 12 points after scoring an incredible 80 goals in just 24 games.
And they cruised through the group stage despite losing at Celtic, scoring 11 goals on the way to topping Group G from the SPL side.
In contrast, AC Milan have stuttered their way through the season and in particularly the Champions League.
Milan scored only seven goals in the group stages - joint-lowest of all the qualifiers along with Galatasaray. More worryingly they have scored just once at the San Siro in their last four Champions League games, and haven't won at home in this season's competition.
Milan have also won just one of their last 10 knockout games in the Champions League.
With Barcelona their toughest test of the season by some way it makes me want to get with the La Liga side but the 4/7 odds are reserved for big-hitters only.
I do think one way of getting with Barca at bigger odds is to back them in the half-time score markets as they are capable of blowing away opposition early.
They were 3-0 in front at the break at Spartak Moscow in the group stages and also led 1-0 at Benfica. In fact, they have scored in the first half in 28 of their 37 matches in all competitions this season.
AC Milan, on the other hand, are slow starters. Forty of their 55 goals in all competitions this campaign have come after the break and with Mario Balotelli ineligible and Stephan El Shaarawy a doubt they lack a cutting edge up front.
Wednesday's other game sees Galatasaray take on Schalke and the draw makes some appeal.
Goals could be at a premium in this one. As previously mentioned, Galatasaray only scored seven in the group stages and though the arrival of Didier Drogba could help in that regard he's not a certain starter after he came off the bench to score on his debut last Friday.
They aren't prolific in front of goal at this level and in Schalke they face competent if out-of-form opposition.
The Bundesliga outfit topped Group B after three wins and three draws but they haven't been in such good form since then.
They've won just once in their last 12 but five of those have been draws and their defeats came at tough places like Bayern Munich, Hamburg and Mainz.
I wouldn't be so quick to latch onto the 5/4 about the Turkish side despite the worries about Schalke and at 5/2 the stalemate makes plenty of appeal.