Milan and Barcelona meet again
LONDON (Reuters) – Last year’s Champions League hero could return to the competition after his unhappy foray in the Far East while two of its oldest foes meet again in this week’s last-16 first leg ties.
Didier Drogba, who took the winning penalty for Chelsea in last season’s final, scored five minutes into his Galatasaray debut on Friday and could enter the fray along with newly-signed Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder against Schalke 04 on Wednesday.
Seven-time European champions AC Milan and Barcelona, who met in both the group stage and quarterfinals last season, face off again at the San Siro with the Lionel Messi-inspired Catalans hot favourites to pull off another win.
Arsenal, who have reached this stage for the 13th time in a row, host a rampant Bayern Munich while Porto host impressive debutants Malaga in a match which features so many South Americans it resembles a Libertadores Cup tie.
Milan’s meeting with Barcelona is the pick of the ties although the Serie A side will not be able to field Mario Balotelli who has scored four goals in three games since his move from Manchester City.
The maverick striker is ineligible for Wednesday’s match at San Siro, having played for the English side in the group stage when they were eliminated.
Milan have also lost fiery striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, injury-prone Brazilian Alexandre Pato and defender Thiago Silva since last season, instead fielding a younger side in an attempt to balance the books.
“It’s a new generation, and it’s a pleasure as they are still inexperienced but they bring something extra to the team,” defender Philippe Mexes told Uefa.com.
“They can bring a lot of things to the team, this new generation is very enthusiastic. They also demand a lot in training as they are very lively, and it’s doing good to all of us in the team.
“Milan can count on them as this is a long-term project.”