When the draw for the 2020-21 Champions League group stage was made, this matchup was not anticipated to be between the bottom two teams in Group B. Because the year is 2020, this is what we have. Real Madrid are currently third in the group while Antonio Conte’s Inter are forth out of four teams, with only two points to show from the first half of group stage play. However, with an injury riddled Real Madrid side traveling to Milan on Wednesday, Inter still have a prime opportunity to get back into the top two of the group.
After Real Madrid’s 1-1 draw with Villareal on the weekend, the latest reports out of the Spanish capital have not brought good news for Zinedine Zidane and his squad. There are lingering questions surrounding the fitness of Karim Benzema, Federico Valverde, and captain Sergio Ramos, meaning Real will likely be without some of their most important players in attack and defense. They will also be without Luka Jovic and Eder Militao, who are both missing through positive COVID-19 tests, leaving Zidane with plenty of holes to fill in his starting eleven, though the return of Casemiro is a positive for the French manager.
Inter meanwhile continue to return players to match fitness. Perhaps most importantly, Romelu Lukaku returned from a thigh strain to score twice in the dramatic 4-2 comeback against Torino on Sunday. Milan Skriniar also returned to the pitch on Sunday as a late substitute. Antonio Conte will need as much quality as possible at his disposal on Wednesday, as two points from Inter’s first three Champions League matches have put their chances at advancing past the group stage for the first time since 2011 in danger. A win is virtually, but not mathematically, the only way to keep the possibility of making it out of Group B alive. Inter will have to capitalize on the confidence from Sunday’s win against Torino and the rotation that will take place in the Real Madrid team, though last season’s 2-1 loss at home to Barcelona showed that beating one of the Spanish giants’ weaker lineups is not as straightforward as many may think.
3-2 (A) - 3/11/2020
Predicted Starting XIs
INTER (3-4-1-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni; Hakimi, Gagliardini, Vidal, Young; Barella; Lukaku, Lautaro
REAL MADRID (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Nacho, Mendy; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Asensio, Diaz, Hazard
Prediction: Inter 2-1 Real Madrid
Given the circumstances, Inter have a great chance to break their Champions League duck and get themselves on the right track both domestically and in Europe in the span of just a week. Both Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku seem to have found their shooting boots again in time to face what should be a makeshift Real Madrid backline. Finding top gear before going behind would be a great boost to Inter’s chances of winning this match. Either way, prepare for a characteristic Pazza Inter result.