Barcelona must play Villa to have chance of Champions League progress
It is somewhat strange that AC Milan are favourites to progress from their Champions League last-16 clash with Barcelona, yet the Spanish giants are the shorter price to win the competition.
Milan are 4/6 to qualify to the quarter finals, with Barcelona 11/10 to overcome their 2-0 first-leg deficit to progress in the competition and the underdogs’ performance at home to Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey does not inspire confidence that they will overturn their deficit.
Under the guidance of interim manager Jordi Roura, Barcelona have looked inept tactically and have obvious troubles in breaking in behind defenders.
The persistent Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas conundrum down the left side needs sorting with both regularly drifting into the same position.
Meanwhile, Lionel Messi is the only attacker engaging the opposing defence and when he drops off, nobody is making any movement beyond him.
This is where Villa fits in as by keeping defenders on their toes, Messi will have more space to orchestrate his magic from.
Most notably, Barcelona’s best performance of late was in the victory over Sevilla, where Villa started and scored, alongside Messi.
In the first game with Milan, the Italians pressed in midfield and ensured there was no space for Barcelona to impart their tika-take style in the final third and there was no plan B when this approach was being nullified.
Villa would offer something different in terms of attempting to run in behind the Milan defence and with Barcelona needing to score at least three, simply completing 100 passes across the front of a visiting team that have 10 men behind the ball is unlikely to generate many scoring opportunities.
Barcelona are 2/9 to simply win the second leg at the Nou Camp, but Milan have avoided defeat in 10 of their last 11 away fixtures and can be backed at 11/4 in the double chance market to win or draw in Spain.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.