History suggests the first leg won't be a cakewalk on a Milan catwalk for Barcelona, reports Tobias Gourlay...
"Away from home, Barca have won just 3/13 La Liga games and 2/9 Champions League first legs by more than a goal"
San Siro (Live on Sky Sports 2)
Milan 7.26/1 Barcelona 1.558/15 Draw 4.47/2
Barcelona are favourites to win the match, the tie and the entire Champions League. Seems reasonable - they're a jolly good side - but how big a step are they going to take towards Wembley on Wednesday?
Although the market says they're 1.558/15 to win in Italy and extend their unbeaten run against Milan to eight games, recent history says it could as easily be baby step as giant stride.
Under Pep Guardiola they won only 2/9 first legs away from home. The old boss' record (W2-D4-L3) includes a goalless draw here in last season's quarter-finals.
Massimiliano Allegri's Milan are unbeaten in 2013 and might deserve your support. Just remember that Mario Balotelli has been a factor in February's good form, but is cup-tied for this game.
The draw is 4.47/2.
In previous Champions League seasons, 60% of last-16 first legs have stayed Under 2.5 Goals.
Nevertheless, this is Barcelona and Messi versus Philippe Mexes and Cristian Zapata, so Over 2.5 Goals is favourite, even though it was the right way to go in only four of Guardiola's nine first legs.
The San Siro saw just a goal a game during the group stage and this column would prefer to cover the 1-1 draw - a prominent result in the Guardiola era - with a Both Teams to Score bet.
Barcelona have both scored and conceded in 11/13 La Liga away games this season. AC Milan have done similar in 8/11 Serie A matches at the San Siro. Backing both teams to score was also the right thing to do in six of those nine Guardiola first legs.
The Rossoneri might ape their cross-town rivals in parking the bus, but a goalless draw wasn't enough for them to win the tie 12 months ago and that should be a lesson to them.
The bet gets better if Stephan El Shaarawy, scorer of 17 goals in 30 appearances for Milan this season, is declared fit.
Taking this season's La Liga and previous seasons' Champions Leagues as yardsticks once more, you might be persuaded that AC Milan are worth supporting on the Asian Handicap.
Away from the Camp Nou, Barca have won just 3/13 La Liga games and 2/9 Champions League first legs by more than a goal.
Leo Messi can overcome all sorts of handicaps on his own - even the one that said he was only supposed to end up 4' tall - and might crush this one, but the numbers do say that Milan +1.5 is a value bet at 1.75/7.
And it would have been a winner on each of Barca's six competitive visits to the San Siro since 1989.