Champions League – Players to watch – Apr. 3, 2012
Cesc Fabregas, Barcelona have everything riding on Champions League.
AC Milan and Barcelona clash at Camp Nou Tuesday afternoon to decide which team will advance to the Champsions League semifinals. Here’s a look at the six men who will make or break the game for their clubs:
Lionel Messi, F, Barcelona
Quite simply, the greatest player in the world. AC Milan effectively closed the little magician down last week but can Messi be stifled twice? Don’t bet on it. Look for him to shoulder the load against the Italians and watch for his quality to shine through.
Andres Iniesta, M, Barcelona
Iniestia has to show more Tuesday than he did at the San Siro last week, where a choppy turf and smothering attention stifled Barcelona’s visionary passer. Withdrawn just after the hour mark in an admission of his impotence on the day, Pep Guardiola needs a big game out of him at Camp Nou.
Xavi Hernandez, M, Barcelona
A nagging calf problem kept him out of training on the weekend, so don’t be shocked if he cannot go on Tuesday. Barcelona needs him, dearly. When he’s fit, he’s among the best creators in the world game, and the lynchpin of the Catalans’ attack.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, F, AC Milan
The volatile Swede played creator last week and had he received some help, Milan might have come away with the win. The former Barcelona man is playing like he has a point to prove against the club that let him escape two years ago. Ff he’s able to connect with Robinho or Pato, he’ll be handful for Victor Valdes.
Robinho, F, AC Milan
The Brazilian has only shown flashes of his skills — missing a big chance early last week in front of a gaping net — but his guile was enough to see Milan past Arsenal, and they’ll need that again Tuesday to prosper. If he is on song, he can be the difference maker for Milan. If not, he tends to evaporate like mist as the game wears on.
Alessandro Nesta, D, AC MIlan
With Thiago Silva out injured, the grand old man must steer Milan’s defense and hold fast against what will surely be a punishing Barcelona assault. In Milan, Nesta was the hero, marshalling his forces and getting some help from a badly cut-up field. He’ll have no such help from the groundskeepers Tuesday, and he will need all of his experience to see out this game.