The culmination of this season’s Champions League group stage is here, and with it arrives a head-to-head face-off for first place in Group D. Inter and Tuesday’s visitors Real Sociedad are tied on 11 points, unbeaten and with qualification to the next round already secured, but the exact order still up for grabs. Anything less than a win for Inter will see Sociedad claim the top spot, but if the Nerazzurri take all three points, that honor will be its own.
Since we last met Sociedad in a 1-1 draw in Spain back in September (you may remember that Simone Inzaghi’s men were heavily outplayed but rescued from defeat by a late Lautaro goal), the Basque side has climbed the La Liga table up to 5th, but 5 points out of the top four. Sociedad’s numbers just about perfectly match its record - 8W-5D-3L with the 5th best attack (26 scored), 6th best defense (18 conceded), and 6th most expected goals. In Europe, however, Sociedad has been on another level entirely, breezing by Benfica and Salzburg to land tied with Inter on points but ahead on goal differential. Mikel Oyarzabal (9 goals, 1 assist), Takefusa Kubo (5g, 3a), and Brais Mendez (5g, 4a) have been particularly effective and Inter’s still somewhat makeshift defense will be put to a much greater test than against Udinese on the weekend. Yann Bisseck especially, who displayed some incredible on-the-ball skills but wasn’t pressured much by the Zebrette, will have a huge task in front of him if he’s given the start again. The team in general will have its hands full and need a much better performance than the one we saw in Spain a few months ago. Considering its red-hot current form, however, that should be the case this time around.
The all-time series is level at a win each and the previously mentioned draw back in September in the reverse fixture.
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: Inter Milan 2-1 Real Sociedad
It’s going to be a hard-fought one, but Inter will just barely edge Sociedad thanks to goals from Lautaro and Barella on either side of a Kubo strike.