I guess I should start out by simply tempering expectations. Now mind you, I don't do this as an excuse or a way out, but some of the discussion about this match being the make or break of the season is difficult for me to swallow. We are top of the Scudetto race, and while not offing Barca will surely be a disappointment, at this point being this far in the CL is a triumph in and of itself, considering the view of this team by many of it's own fans as well well as pundits.
Last night I had the pleasure of seeing an old friend, who happens to be a Barca a supporter. We shared some banter and few beers and while we don't obviously don't fundamentally agree on who is going through the respect and understanding that no team is going to have it easy come Tuesday was very clear. Obviously he was more confidence seeing that Barca is on their home turf and that it would be difficult for Milan to score, I politely reminded him that our last encounter ended 2-2 and few teams have done what Milan did in Barcelona.
The match will not be easy, but it will not be impossible, a simple draw see's Milan through and Allegri's tactics will surely reflect the goal at hand. The issue will continue to be fatigue and injuries, but what matters is that whoever is called upon leaves it all on the pitch. Here is my lineup:
Abbiati; Abate, Nesta, Mexes, Antonini; Aquilani, Ambrosini, Nocerino; Prince; Zlatan, Robinho
I am going to come right out and say it, with no qualms. The return of Pato this week is a completely unneeded distraction. I didn't even want to discuss it, but he has fallen flat on his face all season long and he should be no where the bench, let alone the starting lineup. Mark my words, if Pato sees the pitch, Milan will not go through. With that said. I went with the strongest team possible in terms of pace, pressing and aggression. Ambrosini could surely use a rest, but if Van Bommel is not fit it simply won't happen. Nesta and Mexes should be fine at the back and getting Abate is a boost while Antonini will continue his good run of form. The attack is simply and Robinho and Zlatan continue to give us the most dynamic partnership with El Sharaawi ready to contribute.
Now we simply wait, discuss our own expectations and support the team until the final whistle. Win or lose this team is making progress and if they don't win the CL this season, which they may very well not, we can look at back at this quarterfinal tie as a learning experience and one that helped galvanize this soon to be AC Milan Dynasty.