Inter never seems to get much luck in the Champions League. Not only because of their (usually) underwhelming performances. Drawing Barcelona again made a lot of Inter fans sigh - even on their bad days, the Catalan juggernauts offer a massive attacking threat, especially at their cavernous Camp Nou. Inter have, however, many new players, a new philosophy, and Antonio Conte: a mouth-watering match-up!
It isn’t often that we can say this: Barcelona are under pressure. Ernesto Valverde, despite winning the last two matches, hasn’t escaped blame for a slow start to the season where
Atletico Madrid and perennial rivals Real Madrid are ahead of the pack. Failure to secure all three points against Inter (and a good result for Borussia Dortmund) would be a significant blow to the team’s publicly stated goal of lifting the European Cup once more.
Barcelona have a lengthy injury list: three starting players, Ousmane Dembele, Samuel Umtiti and Jordi Alba are likely to miss the match, while teen sensation Ansu Fati will also be left out according to news reports in Spain. Whether key man Lionel Messi will make it on to the field is still unknown - Valverde has kept his cards close to his chest regarding the Barcelona captain’s adductor injury. They will be counting on a big performance from Griezemann and Luis Suarez, not to mention the fantastic midfield pairing of Frenkie de Jong and Arthur.
Historically, Inter will have their work cut out. 29 of the last 32 home Champions League ties have ended in a Barcelona victory.
There has been a lot of talk about how Conte can’t do the job in Europe, and that story gathered steam when Slavia Prague secured a very well-deserved point against a flat Inter side at the San Siro. However, the side look a totally different proposition in the domestic league, having won all 6 of their opening matches, conceding just twice.
Lukaku will be left out for this match due to a quadriceps injury, but we’re likely to see Diego Godin return to the field in place of Alessandro Bastoni, who did a fantastic job on his debut. We are certain to see Kwadwo Asamoah on the left, but it remains to be seen whether Candreva or D’Ambrosio get the nod on the right. Lautaro and Sanchez will be paired up front due to Lukaku’s absence. Given the size and mobility of Barcelona’s towering centre-back pairing of Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet, little Lautaro and Sanchez might have their work cut out.
The 13th competitive meeting between Barcelona and Inter looks to be shaping up as a very interesting match-up. Barcelona has six wins from those 13 matches, with Inter just two.