Messi Barcelona
Lionel Messi during a training session for Barcelona ahead of the Champions League game against AC Milan, October 21Reuters

AC Milan will attempt to raise the wonderfully-loved ghosts of that incredible 2-0 triumph against Barcelona last season when the two sides meet yet again in the Champions League group stages.

While Milan might have pulled off an incredible coup at the San Siro, they went on to lose the tie against Barcelona in the pre-quarterfinals last campaign, and that jarring knockout punch will still be hurting.

Having said that though, this game is a one-off, even if the two sides will meet yet again at the Camp Nou in a couple of weeks' time.

For now, all that is up for grabs are three points, points that can take the winning side one step closer to the always-loved-and-wanted knockout stages.

Barcelona are expectedly perfect after two games with six points in Group H, which also features Ajax and Celtic. Milan are on four points, after a win over Celtic and a last-gasp draw against Ajax.

"It will be a fascinating game for everybody," Massimiliano Allegri said. "We need to play with courage and sacrifice against the best team in the world to get three points and increase our chances of qualifying.

"We must try to make as few mistakes as possible. Barcelona will have the ball more than us, so we have to play a game similar to last year's home tie.

"Since the arrival of Neymar, they have changed in attack because the Brazilian gives them more depth. We need to be patient for 100 minutes - we are getting used to facing Barcelona."

Barca, apart from this big Champions League clash, also have the El Clasico against Real Madrid looming larger than a Himalayan shadow. The Spanish champions' perfect record in La Liga ended with a 0-0 draw to Osasuna on Saturday, and their fallibility without Lionel Messi, who only came into that game as a substitute in the second half, just keeps increasing.

It is impossible for the players not to be looking a little ahead to the Real Madrid clash at the weekend, but manager Gerardo Martino insisted only the Milan match weighs on their minds for now.

"Milan will play to win, and it will not be a formality for us," Martino said. "We are up against a team with a great tradition, they're too big an institution to take lightly so we'll start thinking about Real Madrid on Wednesday. It will be a tough match. We're facing a very important club, we feel a big responsibility, but we feel the same feelings in every game.

"It will be a week of important games but it's not crucial for our season because it's a long campaign and there are many tough matches still to come. That said, we know that with a good result tomorrow (Tuesday) we'll have practically wrapped up our place in the last-16. We have to play as we know how, giving away little space and stopping Milan's counterattacks."

Team News: Allegri is hopeful Mario Balotelli, who scored the crucial equaliser against Ajax in the last matchday, will be passed fit after the Milan striker missed the 1-0 win over Udinese with a thigh problem. Goalkeeper Christian Abbiati is a doubt for the game, while Mattia De Sciglio and Stephane El Shaarawy is ruled out, with Philippe Mexes and Nigel De Jong, suspended for the Serie A match, returning to the squad.

Jordi Alba, Isaac Cuenca and Ibrahim Afellay remain ruled out, but Barcelona welcomed back Carles Puyol for the first time since March at the weekend, while Javier Mascherano also returned to the squad.

Messi was passed fit against Osasuna, but started the game on the bench, before making an appearance in the second half.

Key men: Milan: Has to be Balotelli, if passed fit, with the Italian striker capable of carving the Barcelona defence wide open at will.

Barcelona: Messi will want to impress on his return from injury and the little Argentine, as always, will send a few shivers down the Milan defenders' spines.

Where to watch

The game is scheduled for a 12.15 a.m. IST start on Wednesday morning, with live coverage on Ten Action.

Expected lineups: Milan: Abbiati; Abate, Silvestre, Zapata, Constant; Poli, Montolivo, Muntari; Birsa; Balotelli, Robinho.

Barcelona: Valdes; Alves, Pique, Bartra, Adriano; Iniesta, Busquets, Fabregas; Sanchez, Messi, Neymar.

Prediction: 3-2 to Barcelona