Sunday, November 18, 2018

Prediction: Inter Milan vs Barcelona

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 4/6

Bookmaker: Bet365

Inter Milan and Barcelona face off on Tuesday night knowing they are both overwhelming favourites to qualify from Group B. With group rivals Tottenham picking up just one point so far, Inter (six points) and Barça (nine) are odds-on to reach the Champions League knockout stages at Spurs’ expense.

Inter Milan

Starting with the hosts, while Inter may have only been able to leave the New Camp on the wrong end of a 2-0 defeat last month, it has been a very bright start for Luciano Spalletti’s side. Coming off the back of a very impressive showing in their 5-0 home win over Genoa last weekend, aside from their defeat in Catalunya, Milan have won their other nine outings across all competitions. Along with picking up a pair of 2-1 wins over PSV and Tottenham in their opening two Champions League matches, Nerazzurri are now a firm favourite to book their spot in the knockout stage. After being rested for last weekend’s win, one man to watch for the hosts will be their lead goalscorer and captain Mauro Icardi. Scoring twice against Lazio in his last appearance, he also now has six goals in his last five matches. However, if Inter are to climb to top of the table, they will need to improve on their recent record against Barcelona. They have now won just two of their 11 meeting with Barcelona in European competition.

Team News

Radja Nainggolan made his comeback from an ankle problem against Genoa at the weekend, and the Belgium international is expected to return to the Inter XI for this match.

Icardi was left on the bench at the weekend, meanwhile, and will return to the tip of the attack on Tuesday night.

Barcelona

As for the visitors, appearing to be on course to retain their title as Spanish champions, Barcelona now sit three points clear at the top of the La Liga table. Ernesto Valverde’s side also now sit three points clear of Inter at the top of Group B. Coming off the back of a 3-2 win away at Rayo Vallecano last weekend, Barca have now won their last five matches on the bounce. While Inter have their own forward talisman who is enjoying a bright start to the season, Barca will be boosed by the news that five-time Ballon d’Or winner, Lionel Messi, is set to make his return after recovering early from a broken arm Despite missing the last four outings, the Argentinian captain has 12 goals and five assists in 11 appearances. More impressive, despite only making two Champions League appearances, Messi already have five goals to his name. The visitors will also be boosted by their recent record in European competitions. Barcelona are unbeaten in their last 11 group stage games in the Champions League.

Team News

Lionel Messi has returned to the Barca squad earlier than expected and could be available following a fractured arm.

Centre-backs Samuel Umtiti and Thomas Vermaelen remain sidelined through injury.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Inter Milan have won just two of their 11 meeting with Barcelona in European competition (D3 L6), with defeats in each of the last two.
  • Barcelona are winless in their last four away games against Inter Milan in European competition (D3 L1), losing the most recent meeting there in April 2010 (3-1 in the Champions League semi-final first leg).
  • Inter Milan have won just one of their last eight games against Spanish opposition in the Champions League (D3 L4), although that victory did come against Barcelona (3-1 in April 2010).
  • Barcelona are unbeaten in their last 11 group stage games in the Champions League.
  • Midfielder Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in 10 goals in his last seven appearances in the Champions League (six goals and four assists).

Conclusion

On paper, it has all the makings of a game that should produce plenty of chances at both ends. Given the fact that both sides have now scored a combined 26 goals in their last 10 matches, we’re backing yet another thrilling encounter at the San Siro on Tuesday night.

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 4/6

Bookmaker: Bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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