BARCELONA COACH PEP Guardiola insists his sole focus is on getting past Champions League quarter-final opponents AC Milan.
Friday’s draw in Nyon threw up the possibility of Barca and La Liga rivals Real Madrid meeting in the tournament decider at the Allianz Arena in May, a development which has generated great excitement within the footballing community.
However, Guardiola said that it would be foolish for his team to look beyond Milan, a side who gave the Catalans plenty of trouble during the two encounters in the group stage of this season’s competition.
The Italian champions snatched a 2-2 draw at Camp Nou thanks to a last-gasp equaliser from Thiago Silva, and went on to play an absorbing return clash at San Siro although Milan found themselves on the end of a 3-2 defeat.
“I’m not even thinking about the semi-final against either Benfica or Chelsea yet,” he said. “And the quarter-final will be very difficult in itself.
Milan will be very tough – we’ll need the support of the fans. They have experienced players, they create chances easily and have a good defence.
“But to win the Champions League, you have to beat the best. And Milan are one of the best.”
Milan counterpart Massimiliano Allegri is taking a different approach to the tie, and is already dreaming of reaching the Champions League final.
Allegri admits the Catalans will be tough, but is confident that the Rossoneri will do well and feels the road to the final is open once they get past the Spanish powerhouse.
“We are drawn against the best team in the world, but we can do well against them because we have improved a lot since our last meeting,” Allegri said.
These games against Barcelona will bring out the best in Milan. Let’s look at it from the bright side. We have a great chance to reach the final if we eliminate them.”
Milan director Umberto Gandini was equally bullish about his side’s chances of progressing past the reigning world, European and Spanish champions.
“We have already faced Barcelona and now we are stronger than we were in the group stages,” he said. “We can fancy our chances against Barca.
“It’s an open match. We can say we lost 5-4 after our games in the group stages and having already played against them will help us a lot.
“The draw in Barcelona will give us a lot of confidence. And when we lost at home, we played very well and we only lost because of a strange penalty (scored by Lionel Messi in the first half).
“We know how to play against them. We know it’s hard but I think we have the same chance to go through (as they do).”