MX23RW : Sunday, January 19 11:23:25| >> :600:9516291:9516291:
Oct 2, 2019 at 8pm UK at ​Camp Nou
Attendance: 86,141
Inter Milan
Suarez (58', 84')
FT(HT: 0-1)

Preview: Barcelona vs. Inter Milan - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Champions League clash between Barcelona and Inter Milan, including predictions, team news and head-to-head records.

Barcelona host Inter Milan in the Champions League on Wednesday evening looking to build some momentum after a difficult start to the season.

Ernesto Valverde's men have lost twice in seven La Liga games, while they were lucky to take a point from their opening Champions League game with Borussia Dortmund.

Inter, meanwhile, have gone a perfect six from six in Serie A under Antonio Conte, although their European campaign got off to a disappointing start when they were held 1-1 by Slavia Prague.


Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde watches on during his side's match against Liverpool on May 1, 2019© Reuters

For one of the few times during his tenure as Barcelona manager, Valverde enters Wednesday's game under some genuine pressure, despite the Catalan giants winning their last two.

Their slow start to the La Liga season has already seen then slip behind rivals Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, while a poor performance in this game and a good result for Dortmund could put them on the back foot in their bid to recapture the Champions League.

Luis Suarez got on the scoresheet against Getafe at the weekend and having the Uruguayan firing on all cylinders will be essential for Barcelona with their current injury crisis.

Although he is in training for this game, Lionel Messi is set to join Ousmane Dembele, Ansu Fati, Samuel Umtiti and Jordi Alba in missing this crunch match at the Camp Nou.

Another player needing a big performance is Antoine Griezmann, with the Frenchman yet to really make his mark for Valverde's side following his big summer move from Atletico.

Not only will a strong showing help with the former Real Sociedad man's confidence, it will be essential to Barcelona breaking down an Inter side who have made defensive rigidity a trademark under Conte.

That tightness at the back means Barca will need to maximise the creativity of Frenkie de Jong and Arthur and the pace of Griezmann, Carles Perez and their full-backs if they are to force openings and secure a win.

Historically, the odds are in the Spaniards favour, as they have won 29 of their last 32 home Champions League ties, with one having to go all the way back to May 2013 for their last loss at the Camp Nou.

Recent Champions League form: D
Recent form (all competitions): DWDLWW

Inter Milan

Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte pictured on September 14, 2019© Reuters

Despite that draw with Slavia Prague, Inter have been faultless under Conte's management thus far this season and look to be heading in a positive, upward trajectory once again.

The Nerazzurri have conceded just twice in Serie A, with Stefan de Vrij and Milan Skriniar at the heart of a very strong 3-5-2, with Marcelo Brozovic and Stefano Sensi pulling the strings in midfield.

Although they have started the season well, it is hard to get a read on how they will perform against a top side as they are yet to be really tested this season, with Lazio probably the best team they have faced.

To try to secure a win at the Camp Nou, Conte's side will have to stick to that 3-5-2 and hold their shape, crowding Barcelona in midfield and keeping the pitch narrow, thereby limiting the avenues for Griezmann, Junior Firpo and De Jong to run into.

Also integral will be the wing play of veterans Antonio Candreva and Kwadwo Asamoah, who will be essential alongside Sensi in switching defence to attack and providing opportunities for Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku up front.

Lukaku has been bombarded by racist abuse since moving to Milan but he has been a fantastic addition to Conte's side, offering genuine pace, power and clinical finishing ability.

Should he be given opportunities to run at the Barcelona centre-backs, who are likely to be Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet, the big Belgian could be the real difference maker on Wednesday night.

Also a big boost for Inter will be the fact that Conte has a fully-fit squad, which allowed him to rest players at the weekend and have a variety of tactical and structural options at his disposal for this key game.

Recent Champions League form: D
Recent form (all competitions): WWDWWW

Team News

Barcelona's Lionel Messi is attended by medical staff after sustaining an injury against Villarreal on September 24, 2019© Reuters

Messi's adductor problem will be a big blow for Barcelona as he is so important to the way they play and because it further limits Valverde's options.

The Argentinian may be fit enough for a spot on the bench but he is unlikely to be fit enough to start and the same goes for French winger Dembele.

Lenglet is likely to retain his place alongside Pique in defence, despite his red card at the weekend, while Nelson Semedo could come into the team to replace Sergi Roberto.

As aforementioned, Inter have the entire squad available for this game, which means Conte could make a couple of changes.

Summer signing Diego Godin could slot into defence alongside De Vrij and Skriniar, with Matias Vecino available should Conte want to go for a more defensive formation.

Valentino Lazaro could also come into the side for his pace, although Alexis Sanchez may be confined to the bench after his dismissal against Sampdoria.

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Firpo; Busquets, De Jong, Arthur; Griezmann, Suarez, Perez

Inter Milan possible starting lineup:
Handanovic; De Vrij, Godin, Skriniar; Candreva, Gagliardini, Brozovic, Sensi, Asamoah; Martinez, Lukaku

Head To Head

Wednesday's game will be the 13th competitive meeting between the two sides, with Barcelona currently leading the way on six wins compared to Inter's two.

This is the second consecutive season in which these two have done battle in the group stage after they met in last year's competition, where Barcelona took four points from the two games.

One has to go back to a Fairs Cup tie in January 1970 for Inter's only away win against Barcelona, when the game finished 2-1 to the Italians.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Barcelona 1-1 Inter Milan

Momentum will probably play a big factor in this one, with Inter being defensively savvy enough to stifle most of Barcelona's offensive threats and take something from their hardest game in the group.

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Who will win Wednesday's Champions League clash between Barcelona and Inter Milan?

Inter Milan
Inter Milan
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Barcelona's Lionel Messi is attended by medical staff after sustaining an injury against Villarreal on September 24, 2019
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