Messi De Jong Montolivo
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi looks to get past AC Milan midfielders Nigel De Jong and Riccardo Montolivo in their Champions League game, October 22Reuters

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Barcelona and AC Milan renew their rivalry yet again, with the Spanish champions looking to reincarnate the spirits of that famous victory from last season's Champions League between the two European giants.

The famous clubs met in the second leg of their last 16 tie, with Barcelona, erasing a 2-0 deficit in emphatic style to thump Milan 4-0 and go through to the quarterfinals 4-2 on aggregate.

This time it is a little different, with the two meeting in the group stages. The reverse tie a couple of weeks ago ended 1-1 as Barca were frustrated by a stubborn Milan side.

Barcelona lead Group H with seven points from three matches, two more than Milan. Celtic, with three points from three games, are still in with a shout following their win over Ajax last time around with the Dutch side managing just a single point so far this campaign.

Barca will go into the game as the clear favourites, not just due to their superior prowess in recent seasons in the Champions League, but also due to Milan's poor form, which has seen them winless in their previous four games.

"Every year we face each other at some stage," Dani Alves said. "Historically, Milan are a very big team and when a team has the history that they do, you have to respect them regardless of them not having the best time of it right now. They never seem to be having a great time of it when we meet, but they have always presented us with extremely tough challenges."

If ever Milan needed a catalyst to kickstart their season, a win against Barca in their own backyard would be it. Massimiliano Allegri admitted his side would come with a much more defensive mindset on Wednesday night, after the 4-0 thrashing handed to them last season.

"We'll have to defend as we did in the match at the San Siro and if we do that we won't play the sacrificial victims," Allegri said. "Playing against Barcelona takes away a lot of nervous energy. We have to try and play a better game than we did in the first leg. It's the eighth time that we play them. The game doesn't agitate me."

Team News: Barcelona remain without Jordi Alba, Jonathan Dos Santos and Ibrahim Afellay who are long-term absentees.

Milan welcomed back Mattia De Sciglio at the weekend, but Stephan El Shaarawy and Giampaolo Pazzini remain sidelined. Daniela Bonera is back in training but the match is expected to come too soon for him.  

Key men: Barcelona: Alexis Sanchez has been in great form, scoring five goals in the last five games, but all eyes will be on Lionel Messi, who is on an unimaginable goal drought - only by the Argentine's own ridiculous high standards - of four matches. The game against Milan could provide Messi, who scored the equaliser in the reverse tie, the perfect opportunity to regain his goalscoring touch.

AC Milan: Mario Balotelli has not been in the best of forms off late, and the Italian international striker could do with a good performance in the biggest of club stages against Barcelona.

Where to watch

The game is scheduled for a 1.15 am IST start on Thursday morning with live coverage on Ten HD. For the Live Blog click HERE. 

Expected lineups: Barcelona: Valdes; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Adriano; Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Sanchez, Messi, Neymar.

AC Milan: Abbiati; Mexes, Zapata, Abate, Constant; Muntari, De Jong, Montolivo; Robinho, Balotelli, Kaka.

Prediction: 2-0 to Barcelona