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Barcelona needs goals against AC Milan

March 11, 2013

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Winning by a three-goal margin may be too much even for Barcelona.

Three weeks after losing to AC Milan 2-0 in the first leg of the last 16 of the Champions League, Barcelona will have plenty of work to do on Tuesday at the Camp Nou.

“I’m fairly optimistic despite the 2-0 from the away leg,” Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez said. “We have to attack and score early.”

Besides the loss to Milan, Barcelona also lost twice to Real Madrid, once in the Copa del Rey and again in the Spanish league.

The team will be coached by assistant Jordi Roura. He is standing in for Tito Vilanova, who is undergoing throat cancer treatment in New York.

In anticipation of Tuesday’s match, Roura has rested Lionel Messi and five of his Spain internationals, although the Argentina forward came on late to score in Barcelona’s 2-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday.

Messi has scored in a record 17 consecutive Spanish league matches and has 51 in all competitions this campaign.

“I have absolute confidence that we can do it,” Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta said. “We have an adverse result, it’s not good, obviously, but our mentality and our conviction needs to be that we can turn it around.”

Milan forward Giampaolo Pazzini will be out with a leg injury he picked up in Friday’s 2-0 win at Genoa. Pazzini has scored 14 goals in 29 games in 2013.

With Mario Balotelli ineligible after transferring from Manchester City last month, 20-year-old Stephan El Shaarawy, who has scored a team-high 16 goals in Serie A this season, will be expected to lead the attack.

“It will be difficult but not impossible,” Iniesta said. “We have to play this match as it if was a final. That’s what our mentality needs to be from the first minute to the last.”

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