Champions League: Barca face Inter in San Siro

Level on points heading into the third match-day of Champions League Group C, European heavyweights Inter Milan and Barcelona clash at San Siro tonight.

Both sides have seen off Viktoria Plzen but lost to Bayern Munich, but the hosts have endured their worst Serie A start for 11 years while their Catalan counterparts are unbeaten in seven La Liga games to date.

Not for the first time this season, an Inter lead was overturned at the weekend, as Simone Inzaghi’s side let slip a one-goal advantage to lose 2-1 at home to Roma.

A first loss to the Giallorossi since 2017 leaves them stranded adrift of Serie A’s top six, and suffering four defeats in eight matches equals the Milan club’s slowest start to a season throughout their top-flight history.

Again ponderous on the ball, Inter clearly missed the absent Marcelo Brozovic and Romelu Lukaku, but another setback means support for Inzaghi is slowly draining away among the Nerazzurri’s fanatical fanbase.

One of five victories this term came last time out in the Champions League, as they got off the mark in a competitive Group C by beating Czech champions Viktoria Plzen 2-0, with Edin Dzeko and Denzel Dumfries scoring either side of their hosts going down to 10 men.

Previously, they had lost by the same scoreline at home to Bayern, but they have tended to fare much better at San Siro in recent times: before their setback against Roma, they had won each of their last seven home games in the league – keeping four clean sheets in the process.

As Inter have won only once from five meetings with Barcelona in Milan, though, they will need to overcome precedent to pick up maximum points this week. There is every chance Bayern will sprint into the distance by sweeping past Plzen, so back-to-back matches against the Blaugrana could be decisive.

Having failed to make it through the group stage of last season’s Champions League, finishing third behind Bayern and Benfica, a rejuvenated Barcelona will not want to suffer the same fate again.

It is now seven years since they last lifted the continent’s top trophy, but recent events suggest Xavi’s current crop could be among the contenders to prevail in Istanbul next June.

Thanks to some slick accounting manoeuvres, the Catalan giants were able to add a number of players to their squad over the summer, including star striker Robert Lewandowski, who scored again on Saturday – his ninth goal of the season proving the difference versus Mallorca.

Barcelona are therefore battling it out with old rivals Real Madrid at the top of La Liga, and have now won six successive league matches since drawing on the opening day.

Before the international break, though, they succumbed to Bayern, with former Allianz Arena hero Lewandowski left ruing several missed chances against his erstwhile employers. That 2-0 loss in Bavaria represented Barca’s fifth defeat in their last nine group-stage games.

Nonetheless, with six points on offer across both fixtures between the Blaugrana and Inter over the coming days, there is all to play for – and the contrast in confidence between both camps could prove a major factor.

Champions League fixtures


Inter v Barca

Liverpool v Rangers

Bayern v Viktoria Plzen

Ajax v Napoli

Frankfurt v Tottenham

Marseille v Sporting

Club Brugge v Atletico Madrid

Porto v Leverkusen

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