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Dec 20, 2012

Milan 'destiny's victims' after Barca draw

Milan sporting director Umberto Gandini was in no doubt of the difficult task ahead, calling familiar foes Barcelona "the biggest fish" in the competition after they were drawn together in the Champions League last-16.

• Marcotti dissects UCL last 16

Barca faced Milan in both the group stages and quarter-finals last season, with two Lionel Messi penalties at the Camp Nou helping his side progress to the semis 3-1 on aggregate.

Gandini told Mediaset: "We're definitely destiny's victims. It's the fifth or sixth time we've drawn Barcelona [since the 1994 final]. We're used to their visits by now and we send our best to Tito Vilanova who's going through a difficult time and we hope he'll be on the bench for our match.

"We'll be up against a team that we know very well. They're a perfect machine but they've had some more difficulties in the group stages this year than before. We hope that we can break the taboo by beating Barcelona.

"We've drawn the biggest fish and it'll be a test of maturity for the team but we can win the Champions League, we've already won it seven times!"

Barcelona vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu claims Milan are one of the best teams in Europe and insisted that the Catalans would treat their Italian opponents with respect.

Indeed, Bartomeu said that, even though Milan might not be in the best of form at present, they would present a big challenge.

"Milan is one of Europe's greats, and we have so much respect for them," Bartomeu said. "They are maybe not doing well in their league at the moment, but they have impressive players.

"They have players and coaches to turn things around. We must respect them and try to arrive in good condition for the games. We will face them with high hopes."

Barcelona captain Carles Puyol said he was looking forward to renewing acquaintances with the Rossoneri.

"Personally, I am very happy," he said. "I said the other day that we would like to play Milan, not as it will be an easy game but because they are a team I have always liked facing. I like to play there, it is an impressive stadium, and it will be a very nice tie. We know them better than some other opponents, but these games are always difficult."

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