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Allegri wants Milan courage for Barça mind games

Massimiliano Allegri wants AC Milan to show "courage" in their quarter-final against FC Barcelona, whose coach Josep Guardiola believes the side with the greater fortitude will prevail.

Allegri wants Milan courage for Barça mind games
Allegri wants Milan courage for Barça mind games ©UEFA.com

Massimiliano Allegri is urging AC Milan to "adopt an attacking approach and show courage" to assert their authority in Wednesday's first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final against FC Barcelona. Allegri is keen that his team learn from their mistakes against the reigning champions in this season's group stage, when the holders followed up a 2-2 home draw with a 3-2 win at San Siro to capture first place in Group H. Josep Guardiola said that experience was "fun" – this, he adds, will be a tenser affair.

Coach Massimiliano Allegri
We are ready for this challenge. It'll be a very difficult quarter-final against the best team in the UEFA Champions League; we have to play a great game.

The two previous matches against Barcelona were very different. The first one [2-2 at the Camp Nou] was more defensive; the last one [3-2 to Barcelona at San Siro] was more open, with a lot of chances for both teams. Playing like we did in that second game, we took more risks and made some mistakes in defence that you cannot afford against a team like Barcelona. We just have to avoid that.

It's a very interesting match and we don't need extra motivation. Our team are ready to face up to a similar contest. [Lionel] Messi is the focus of a team that play great football. We have to pay attention and perform well in defence, but adopt an attacking approach and play with courage. If we want to get through we have to score.

There is no such thing as a perfect result. This game is the most important; we cannot go wrong as then qualification could be achieved in the second leg.

Weekend result
Saturday: Milan 2-1 AS Roma (Ibrahimović 53pen 83; Osvaldo 44) 
Abbiati; Bonera, Mexès, Thiago Silva (Zambrotta 10), Mesbah; Nocerino, Ambrosini, Muntari; Emanuelson (Boateng 55); Ibrahimović, El Shaarawy (Aquilani 86).

• Zlatan Ibrahimović converted his 11th penalty in as many attempts this season as Milan made it three wins in four games. The former Barcelona striker has scored 29 goals in all competitions for the club this season, equalling his best return set with FC Internazionale Milano in 2008/09.

Team news
Allegri confirmed that Thiago Silva is out of the first leg after suffering a thigh injury against Roma. Alessandro Nesta is expected to replace him at centre-back having recovered from his own thigh problem, while Urby Emanuelson is a doubt because of an ankle knock. Robinho is available, but Pato (thigh), Ignazio Abate (thigh) and Alexander Merkel (knee) are all injured, while Mark van Bommel serves a one-game ban.

Coach Josep Guardiola
Milan will be going for the win but we'll fight for a positive result. If you play against Milan and you're not focused, you can't win. It will be very important to score; that is one of our main aims. Milan are a great club with a rich tradition. It's a big privilege to play here: we have to be courageous, defend but also know when to attack.

We are committed to playing our own unique style, but know there will be phases of the game when we suffer. We are two strong teams but only one can get through – the side with greater mental fortitude. The [group] game here was especially fun for the fans. AC Milan played to win and finish top of the group.

During his time in Barcelona, Ibrahimović had a remarkable year helping the side in the Champions League and league. He performed well for all his teams. He's always been crucial. For us, Messi is ready, he's fit; he knows this is an important period of the season. We'll try to create the best condition for him to express his talent and ability.

Weekend result
Saturday: RCD Mallorca 0-2 Barcelona (Messi 25, Piqué 79)
Valdés; Piqué, Mascherano, Puyol; Thiago Alcántara, Fàbregas (Montoya 60), Busquets, Iniesta, Pedro (Keita 69); Messi, Sánchez (Tello 82).

• Thiago Alcántara was sent off for the first time in his professional career on 56 minutes as Barcelona claimed a ninth successive win. With Daniel Alves suspended and Adriano and Éric Abidal ruled out, Guardiola opted for a three-man defence.

Team news
Adriano is struggling with a thigh strain but Thiago is back after a right shin problem. Abidal (liver), David Villa (broken leg), Andreu Fontàs (knee) and Ibrahim Afellay (knee) are long-term absentees.

Match fact
Competing at this stage for the first time since 2006/07, when they went on to lift the trophy, seven-time winners Milan can take heart from the fact they have never lost a home quarter-final tie in the European Cup. That is unlikely to daunt Barcelona, now champions four times and seeking a fifth successive semi-final appearance – which would equal the record set by their arch-rivals Real Madrid CF from 1956 to 1960.