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Barcelona defend top spot at San Siro

Top spot in Group H is the target for AC Milan and FC Barcelona when these two European powers meet at San Siro, with the reigning champions holding a two-point advantage.

Thiago Silva tries to keep tabs on Lionel Messi at the Camp Nou
Thiago Silva tries to keep tabs on Lionel Messi at the Camp Nou ©Getty Images

First place in Group H is at stake when AC Milan host FC Barcelona at San Siro on matchday five. With both sides already qualified for the last 16, Barcelona travel to Italy with a two-point lead knowing victory will win them the group.

Previous meetings
• The sides have met 12 times in UEFA competition, recording four wins each and four draws. Milan's record in five home games against Barcelona reads W2 D1 L2.

• Their most memorable encounter was the 1994 UEFA Champions League final in Athens, which Milan won 4-0. Milan also prevailed when the clubs met in the 1989 UEFA Super Cup, winning 1-0 at home after a 1-1 away draw.

• Milan's last victory against Barcelona came on 20 October 2004 in the UEFA Champions League group stage, Andriy Shevchenko scoring the only goal. Clarence Seedorf and Gennaro Gattuso were on the winning side with Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Carles Puyol and Víctor Valdés lining up for the Blaugrana.

• Mark van Bommel was in the Barcelona lineup when the teams last met at San Siro in the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League semi-finals, the visitors emerging victorious through a solitary Ludovic Giuly strike. The return finished goalless.

• The lineups for that first-leg game on 18 April 2006 were:
Milan: Dida, Kaladze, Nesta, Stam (Cafu 77), Serginho, Gattuso (Ambrosini 74), Seedorf, Pirlo (Maldini 67), Kaká, Shevchenko, Gilardino.
Barcelona: Valdés, Oleguer (Motta 75), Márquez, Puyol, Van Bronckhorst, Edmílson, Van Bommel, Iniesta, Giuly (Belletti 70), Eto'o, Ronaldinho (Maxi López 89).

Match background
• Before successive wins against Plzeň and BATE, Milan had recorded just one victory in eight home fixtures in their previous two European campaigns.

• The Rossoneri's overall home record against Spanish clubs is W11 D4 L5.

• Barcelona have scored nine goals in their two Group H away games so far and have lost just one of their last eight European away fixtures. Their most recent trip to San Siro ended in a 3-1 loss against FC Internazionale Milano in the 2009/10 semi-final first leg. Their overall record away to Italian sides is W5 D6 L5.

Team ties
• Josep Guardiola played for Brescia Calcio and AS Roma; he was a team-mate of Daniele Bonera at Brescia in 2001/02.

• Gianluca Zambrotta (2006-08), Zlatan Ibrahimović (2009-10) and Van Bommel (2005-06) have had spells at Barcelona.

• Christian Abbiati (Club Atlético de Madrid), Clarence Seedorf, Robinho and the sidelined Antonio Cassano (all Real Madrid CF) have played in Spain.

• Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcántara was born in San Pietro Vernotico in Italy. His father, Mazinho, played in Serie A for US Lecce and ACF Fiorentina.

• Javier Mascherano and Alberto Aquilani played together at Liverpool FC in 2009/10. Mascherano was in the Liverpool team beaten 2-1 by Milan in the 2007 UEFA Champions League final.

• Maxwell played for Inter between 2006 and 2009, recording three wins and a defeat in Serie A against Milan.

• Cesc Fàbregas and Mathieu Flamini were Arsenal FC team-mates from 2004 to 2008. Fàbregas scored at San Siro in a 2-0 win at Milan in the 2007/08 round of 16 second leg, with Flamini also featuring.

• Iniesta scored the extra-time winner as Spain overcame a Netherlands side featuring Van Bommel in the 2010 FIFA World Cup final.

• David Villa and Fàbregas converted from the spot as Spain defeated Italy 4-2 on penalties in the UEFA EURO 2008 quarter-finals. Massimo Ambrosini, Cassano, Zambrotta and Aquilani appeared for Italy.

• Éric Abidal was sent off when an Italy team including Zambrotta, Gattuso and substitutes Aquilani and Cassano overcame France 2-0 in the UEFA EURO 2008 group stage.

• Aquilani got the winner as Italy overcame Spain 2-1 in an August friendly, Thiago making his senior Spain debut.

• Alexis Sánchez scored in Udinese Calcio's 4-4 draw at Milan last season. That was his sole goal in seven league and cup meetings with Milan during three years in Udine which brought three wins, two draws and two defeats.

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