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In-form Barca alert to Milan danger

BARCELONA, Spain, April 3 – Barcelona have clicked into form at just the right time, according to striker Pedro Rodriguez, but he feels they need to be wary of an AC Milan away goal in Tuesday’s Champions League clash.

The reigning champions did not have it all their own way in the first leg of their quarter-final tie at the San Siro last week where a defensively strong performance from Milan kept Barca’s prolific forward line at bay and the match ended 0-0.

It guarantees a highly-charged Nou Camp for the second leg where Barcelona are favourites having already finished above the current Serie A leaders in the group stage of the competition.

But a goal for Milan would make it difficult.

“This is the most important game up to now in the season and hopefully we will do enough to qualify for the semi-finals,” said Pedro.

“It’s going to be a tough game and we cannot be too confident against Milan because they have great players. We will see what happens and hopefully with the help of the fans it will work out well.

“We are going through our best spell of the season. We are confident and physically strong which is necessary at this key point and we will try and win everything and then see where we end up.

“Even if we are dominating the game against Milan we cannot relax because they can score a goal at any moment and they are not an easy side to beat.”

Domestically Barca have dropped points on their travels but a run of eight straight wins in the league, including a 2-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao at the weekend, has seen them reduce the gap with leaders Real Madrid to six points.

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Lionel Messi has spearheaded the recovery and now has 56 goals in total so far this season.

He also set a new Champions League record in the last round with five goals in a 7-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen.

It has been an injury-plagued campaign for Pedro who came on as a substitute at the San Siro and is slowly rediscovering his eye for goal.

“I feel fine and I don’t know why I am not having the luck at the moment which is what I need,” he said.

“I have had a lot of injuries over the last few months which have affected my level and the most important thing right now is to support my teammates. We need to keep winning and I’m sure I will start getting the goals.”

Xavi Hernandez and Carles Puyol both began the game with Bilbao on the bench so that they will be fresh for the Milan game while Cesc Fabregas is also expected to play after overcoming a shoulder injury.

Milan who drew away to an in-form Catania 1-1 on Saturday have a long injury list which is expected to include Mark van Bommel but in attack Alexandre Pato is due to travel.

It will be a special match for Zlatan Ibrahimovic who returns to the Nou Camp after a big money move in the summer of 2009 turned sour with a much publicised falling out with coach Pep Guardiola and he signed for Milan a year later.

Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said his team will be highly-motivated for the game.

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“Tuesday is another game and we have to approach it in the best way possible but the motivation will take care of itself,” he said.

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