Champions League Preview: Barcelona v AC Milan

Europe’s elite football competition returns tonight with the group stages of the Champions League hitting our screens for the first time this campaign.

And what better way to kick things off (no pun intended, honestly) than with two of the game’s biggest and most successful clubs going head to head on matchday one!

Barcelona host Italian champions AC Milan hoping to get off to a good start in their bid to retain the title of Europe’s best club side.

And thanks to our pals at Castrol, Sport-locker.net can bring you some interesting stats ahead of the match.

BARCELONA ARE AHEAD OF THE GAME 

Castrol EDGE Performance data shows that Barcelona have dominated European football since Pep Guardiola took over as manager in 2008. 

The Catalans have scored more goals, had more shots, completed more passes and averaged a greater share of possession than any other side in the last three years.

Comparatively, AC Milan are lagging well behind the defending Spanish and European champions. The Rossoneri, who have failed to score a single goal in their last three Champions League games, have averaged just over one goal per game since 2008/09.

In that time, they’ve also won just four of their 16 games in the competition, that’s 18 fewer wins than Barça. 

Barcelona v AC Milan – Champions League since 2008/09 

Barcelona

Champions League since 08/09

AC Milan

38

Games

16

 

In front of goal

 

82

Goals scored

17

2.2

Goals scored per game

1.1

641

Total shots

192

16.9

Shots per game

12.0

51%

Shooting accuracy %

40%

 

Distribution

 

70%

Average Possession

52%

25929

Passes

7221

682

Passes per game

451

89%

Passing accuracy %

81%

 

Defence

 

32

Goals conceded

22

0.8

Goals conceded per game

1.4

 

 Barcelona

Champions League since 08/09

AC Milan

22

Games Won  

4

12

Games Drawn  

6

4

Games Lost  

6

58%

Win %

25%

 A DIFFERENT CLASS 

And all eyes (as always) will be on one particular Barcelona player. He’s a bit special that Leo Messi!

Castrol EDGE Performance data shows that Lionel Messi completed six dribbles per game last season in the Champions League, a higher average than any other player who took part in this competition in 2010/11. The Argentinean forward surpassed the likes of Arjen Robben and Luis Suárez. 

Most dribbles per game – Champions League 2010/11 

Player

Dribbles Completed

Games Played

Dribbles completed per game

Messi, Lionel

79

13

6.08

Robben, Arjen

10

2

5.00

Ruiz, Bryan

23

5

4.60

Suárez, Luis

19

5

3.80

Bale, Gareth

34

9

3.78

 

Four of the five players in the top five are left-footed, the only exception being Uruguayan star Luis Suárez.  

Last season, Lionel Messi became the first-ever player to finish outright Champions League top scorer in three consecutive seasons.

The double Ballon d’Or is now Barcelona’s most prolific goal scorer in European competitions. Castrol EDGE Performance data analyses his 37 Champions League goals: 

Where

Goals

In the area

30

Outside the area

7

 

How

Goals

Right foot

6

Left foot

30

Head

1

 

When (minute)

Goals

0-15

3

16-30

5

31-45

10

46-60

4

61-75

5

76-90

10

 

Situation

Goals

Open play

32

Penalty

2

Direct free kick

1

Set play

1

Corner

1

Stamina appears to be an important factor as 20 of Messi’s 37 Champions League goals have come in the last 15 minutes of each half.

Firstly who do you think will win the contest at the Camp Nou tonight? And who would you put your money on winning the competition outright? Let us know via the comments section below or via our Twitter and Facebook pages.

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