As they prepare for Tuesday's Champions League clash against Barcelona, not even a 2-0 lead from the first leg in Italy is enough to convince AC Milan that they are in the driving seat in the last-16 tie. With bookmakers installing them as favourites to progress, Massimiliano Allegri's side have insisted that they remain underdogs as they travel to face the Catalans.
They also arrive in Barcelona without injured forward Giampaolo Pazzini. From a footballing point of view, the loss of Pazzini is a blow to the Italians. Furthermore, the statistics favour Allegri's men when the Italy international is among their ranks. Since the beginning of 2013, the 'Rossoneri' have not failed to win with the forward on the field (both in Serie A and the Champions League). However, the man who has hit 14 goals in 29 games so far this term was ruled out of Tuesday's match following confirmation that the player had suffered a bruised right leg in the 2-0 win over Genoa on Friday.
Speaking after the game, defender Ignazio Abate refused to accept any talk of Milan as favourites as he looked forward to the Champions League match-up: "I'm calm about the Barcelona match because they are favourites to go through." Abate added, "It's logical that no-one expected us to have a two-goal advantage but we have to be relaxed. We won't do ourselves any favours if we put ourselves under pressure."
As part of their preparations for the second leg, Milan underwent an intense session of tactical training on Sunday. Ghanaian Kevin-Prince Boateng - who missed the victory over Genoa - rejoined the squad. Curiously, San Siro coach Allegri also focused part of the session on ball retention - will Milan try to match Barça for possession?