Milan face true test of revival vs Barca
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After clambering its way up the Serie A table, the true test of AC Milan's revival will come against Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday. Milan had an awful start to the season and, lying 15th in Serie A after eight matches, seemed to be heading for a relegation fight rather than a title battle.
However, Milan has since climbed to third, although it is still 11 points behind leader Juventus. Barcelona poses Milan's sternest test yet. It commands a healthy double-digit lead in the Spanish league and is well on course to recover the domestic title. That means it can devote all its attention to Europe's top competition as it searches for its fourth title in eight years.
It will be a special match for Milan striker Bojan Krkic, who progressed through the ranks at Barca, scoring 41 goals in 163 appearances. "I don't want to think too much about what feelings I have. I have never played against Barcelona and for that very reason this is more than just a game for me, but I'm just thinking of helping the team. It's the only thing I want to do,'' Bojan said.
Milan will be underdogs against a Barcelona side which has lost only twice all season in the league and in Europe. It will be the fifth time the two teams meet in the Champions League at San Siro and Milan has only won one of those encounters, in the group stage in the 2004-05 season. "We are going through a positive period. We have to believe in ourselves,'' Bojan said. "It's fundamental to score but also not to concede.''
Milan is still waiting on the fitness of top scorer Stephan El Shaarawy, who has been the club's most prolific and active player this season with more than 2,000 minutes of game time yielding 17 goals. El Shaarawy came off in the draw against Cagliari with a knee injury but is back in training and Milan is hopeful the 20-year-old Italian will be fit to start.
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