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1:00 AM UTC Feb 24, 2017
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Europa League round of 16 draw

Europa League

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Neglected Maracana to reopen in March


Ibrahimovic blow for Milan

AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been ruled out Tuesday's high-profile reunion with former club Barcelona in the opening round of the Champions League.

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Ibrahimovic suffered an adductor injury during Monday's training session and was left behind as the rest of the squad jetted out to Spain.

Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri was hoping to partner Brazilian forward Alexandre Pato with Ibrahimovic in Camp Nou but must now change his plans.

Allegri had said he wanted to drop in-form striker Antonio Cassano, who scored the equaliser as Milan fought back from two goals down to secure a 2-2 draw with Lazio in Serie A at the weekend, to accommodate Pato.

"Cassano put in a superb performance in the game against Lazio, but Pato is the favourite to start alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic against Barcelona because of his specific characteristics," Allegri told La Repubblica.

However, with Robinho also out injured and veteran striker Pippo Inzaghi excluded from the Champions League squad, Milan have just Cassano and Pato available to play up front.

Milan were nearly made to pay for a slow start against Lazio at the San Siro and Allegri has warned that a repeat performance will cost them dear against the European Champions.

"We need to be careful and to avoid playing like we did in the first 20 minutes against Lazio," Allegri said before jetting out to Spain. "We're playing the team who at the moment play the best football.

"We have a lot of respect for Barcelona. But we shouldn't forget that we have great players, too. We have to be very alert at the back and up front. We can't afford to be careless."

"I'm not emotional, I'm just thinking about the game which is only the first in the group stages and not a final. I want us to tackle it with serenity and to qualify for the knock-out stages."

Barcelona drew their second game of the La Liga season 2-2 with Real Sociedad.


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