AC Milan defender Philippe Mexes knows they will have their work cut out to stifle Lionel Messi, but insists they will give it a real go to knock holders Barcelona out of the Champions League (Milan 4/1, Barcelona 2/11 – To Qualify with bet365).
The Catalans travel to the San Siro for the first leg of their quarter-final clash on Wednesday night in red-hot form, having won their last seven matches in La Liga.
They will face a Milan side who are currently top of the Serie A standings, but who are suffering with injuries.
The Rossoneri will have to do without the services of influential defender Thiago Silva, who misses out with a hamstring strain, and much will depend on the form of striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who averages almost a goal every game in the league this season.
While the giant Swede will be the hosts’ main threat in front of goal, Messi will, as ever, be the player that Milan have to stop if they are to come away with a first-leg lead (Messi 9/1 To Score Three or More Goals with bet365).
Mexes will be charged with that particular task and, while admitting that ‘it is difficult enough to stop Messi on Playstation’ the France international centre-back insists that the Italians will give their all to try to stay in the competition.
“Messi is a great player and he deserves respect, but we will play like we have always done,” he said.
“Barca are the best team in the world, but we will do everything we can to advance. We had to meet them sooner or later.”