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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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Sacchi: Barca are 'unrecognisable'

Former AC Milan coach Arrigo Sacchi says the current Barcelona side is "unrecognisable" and that Milan can progress from next Tuesday's Champions League clash at the Camp Nou if they play without fear.

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Although Barca went into last month's last-16 first leg in Milan as favourites, the Serie A side were surprisingly comfortable throughout and emerged with a deserved 2-0 win.

The veteran tactician, who memorably masterminded Milan's unexpected and crushing 4-0 Champions League final win over Johan Cruyff's Barca in 1994, said the Barca team who had played at San Siro had looked much worse than expected, and his former side would progress to the quarter-finals once they held their nerve in Tuesday's return.

"Recently the image of Barcelona that I have seen is bad, it is an unrecognisable team," Sacchi told Italian TV station RAI, in quotes picked up by Marca. "Having said that, Milan risk being beaten if they go into the game with fear."

Sacchi said it looked to him as if Barca's loss of former coach Josep Guardiola, and stroll towards this season's Primera Division title, had taken away its competitive edge, which meant star Lionel Messi was much less effective.

"Barcelona were not up enough for the game," he said. "Firstly because they have lost Guardiola and then because they were winning La Liga so easily and that probably relaxed the team. In this context, Messi, in a team like this, is not as devastating a player."

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