UEFA Champions League: FC Barcelona will be without their No. 10, Lionel Messi as they take on Inter Milan at Camp Nou. Will Icardi steal the show tonight?
On 24th October, Wednesday, FC Barcelona host Inter Milan for a mammoth Group B clash on matchday 3 of UEFA Champions League 2018/19. Both Internazionale and the Catalans boast a 100% record so far in Group B, which will be on the line as the two sides go head-on at Camp Nou.
Barcelona and Inter Milan have a rich history when it comes to European competitions. The Catalans have faced against the three-time European champions, Inter, 10 times, with Barça having registered 5 wins, 3 draws and 2 losses against the I Nerazzurri.
Inter are on fire, winning seven consecutive games in Italy and Europe and having just beaten their biggest rivals, AC Milan, with a last-minute goal on Sunday. As for Barcelona, a very solid performance and a great victory to reclaim the top of La Liga against Sevilla was spoiled by an injury to Lionel Messi last Sunday. However, Barca looks keen to make it 3 out of 3 against Inter, as they are sure to consider this clash as a warm-up to the El Classico this coming weekend.
Ernesto Valverde’s men looked in good spirits despite Messi’s absence and Barca full-back Jordi Alba is confident his side can come away with the three points nonetheless. ‘Inter are a very hard team to beat and they are playing well at the moment. But we think we can win this, especially with our fans behind us,’ he told the club’s official website. ‘His absence especially affects my own game’ he confessed. ‘But he’s important for all of us because he makes us all play better. We’ll have to do our very best, and I’m more than certain that we will.’
In Messi’s absence, Barcelona will start with Luis Suarez up front supported by Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele of either side. Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets will assume their traditional positions in the midfield alongside the heir to Xavi’s throne, Arthur who has made a big impression since arriving at the Nou Camp and will be trusted in the Champions League once again. Samuel Umtiti and Thomas Vermaelen are ruled out of the clash, meaning Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet will start in the heart of defence. Sergi Roberto will be preferred to Nelson Semedo at right-back, with Jordi Alba on the left side.
Inter have collected maximum points through two matches, topping Tottenham and PSV Eindhoven to open Champions League play in a difficult Group B. The Italian club topped Tottenham 2 – 1 at the San Siro to open the competition behind goals from Icardi and Matias Vencino before defeating PSV in the Netherlands by the same scoreline in their second match.
The man Barca should worry about is Inter’s Talisman Mauro Icardi who has scored six goals in nine games so far this season. Against AC Milan at the weekend, Mauro Icardi did not have the greatest game with fewer than 20 touches throughout the 90+ minutes. On Wednesday, Icardi is likely to once again spend large periods of time off the ball with Barcelona pressing, but he has shown he only needs one touch to score.
Inter has faced a tough start to the season as the I Nerazzurri remain 3rd in the Serie A. However, things are changing for the better at San Siro as Internazionale have recorded 7 wins in the last 7 games with their fine form starting with the win against Tottenham Hotspur in the first Matchday of this season’s Champions League. With this, Inter is sure to take the fight to Camp Nou as the fans will be gifted with an exciting fixture.