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

Sports Mole provides the team news, predicted lineups and a full match preview of Barcelona's trip to Inter Milan in the Champions League.

Barcelona will be looking to make it four wins from their four Champions League Group B fixtures this season when they travel to Inter Milan on Tuesday night.

Barcelona have beaten PSV Eindhoven, Tottenham Hotspur and Inter in their three group matches this term and sit three points clear of second-placed Inter ahead of Tuesday's fascinating clash in Milan.

Inter Milan

Ivan Perisic in action for Inter Milan on October 7, 2018© Reuters

Inter suffered a 2-0 defeat when they travelled to Barcelona on October 24, but they are still in a strong position when it comes to making the knockout round of the competition. Indeed, the Italian giants sit second in the section on six points having overcome Tottenham and PSV in their first two Group B matches.

Inter came from behind to record a 2-1 win over Tottenham in their group opener on September 18, before recording a 2-1 victory away to PSV at the start of October. In truth, the Italian outfit found it difficult to harm Barcelona at Camp Nou, but it will be a different match at San Siro on Tuesday night.

Juventus - as expected - lead Serie A after 11 matches of the 2018-19 campaign, but Inter are their closest challengers. Indeed, the Milan giants have recorded eight league wins this term to sit second in the table. Since losing at Barcelona, Inter have beaten Lazio 3-0 and Genoa 5-0 in Serie A.

Inter are also, of course, the last Italian team to win the Champions League. That occurred in 2010, and was their third European Cup triumph. This is the 12th time that they have been in the group stage of the Champions League, meanwhile, but the first since the 2011-12 campaign, which does seem incredible when considering their standing in the European game.

Luciano Spalletti's side have kept seven clean sheets in their last 19 matches, and in Mauro Icardi have a striker who has scored eight times in 11 appearances in all competitions this season. Icardi found it difficult to make his mark against Barcelona last time out, but there is no question that the Argentine has the quality to harm the Spanish champions.

Tuesday will be the eighth meeting between these two teams in European competition. Somewhat surprisingly, it will be their first meeting at San Siro since the semi-finals of the 2009-2010 competition. Inter recorded a 3-1 win on that occasion, with Wesley Sneijder, Maicon and Diego Milito all on the scoresheet for the Italian giants.

Inter will certainly feel that they did not do themselves justice when they travelled to Barcelona last month, but they will have the chance to put down a marker when the Spanish champions travel to Milan.

Recent form: LLWWWL
Recent form (all competitions): WWWLWW


Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic scores his side's second goal against Tottenham Hotspur on October 3, 2018© Reuters

Barcelona will go in search of their sixth straight win in all competitions when they travel to Inter this week. Questions were being asked of this Barcelona team when they lost 2-1 at Leganes on September 26, but the Catalan giants have won six of their eight matches in all competitions since then, remaining unbeaten in the process.

Three straight La Liga wins have taken Barcelona to the top of the table, with a 4-2 win over Sevilla followed by a 5-1 success over Real Madrid in El Clasico. That said, Ernesto Valverde's side needed two late goals to beat Rayo Vallecano on Saturday night, and a similar performance against Inter this week would make it very difficult for the Spanish side to pick up a good result.

As mentioned, Barcelona are sitting pretty at the top of Group B having taken nine points from their three matches. Indeed, Valverde's side beat PSV 4-0 on opening night before winning 4-2 at Tottenham ahead of their two-goal success over Inter.

Barcelona have won the European Cup on five occasions, most recently in 2015. They have had to watch Real Madrid clean up in recent years, but there is a feeling that the Catalan giants are in a strong position to land the trophy this season. That said, the likes of Juventus will have something to say about that.

Barca have actually only won six of their last 17 away matches in the Champions League, drawing five and losing six. They have been beaten in four of their last 10 away fixtures in the competition, meanwhile, and that will be a slight concern ahead of what is a very difficult match on Tuesday night.

The Catalan giants have won their group in the last 11 seasons, however, and have reached at least the quarter-finals in each of those campaigns. Last term, they incredibly lost to Roma in the final eight despite winning the first leg of their quarter-final 4-1, and those unhappy memories of Italy will be in the back of their mind.

There is a chance that Lionel Messi could be back for this match, however, and that would be a huge boost to Barcelona as they look to move onto 12 points in the section, which would all but book their spot in the next round.

Recent form: WWLWWW
Recent form (all competitions): DWWWWW

Team News

Barcelona captain Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring against Tottenham Hotspur on October 3, 2018© Reuters

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.

Elsewhere, Sime Vrsaljko is in line to start at right-back, with Miranda and Kwadwo Asamoah also returning to the team having been rested at the weekend.

As for Barcelona, head coach Valverde has claimed that Messi could be available following a fractured arm. The Argentine recently returned to first-team training and has been included in the squad, although it seems likely that the attacker will be named on the bench.

As a result, Ousmane Dembele could be handed a start in an attacking position after coming off the bench to score against Rayo at the weekend.

The back five picks itself with Samuel Umtiti and Thomas Vermaelen still on the sidelines, while Ivan Rakitic, Arthur and Sergio Busquets should continue in the middle of the park.

Inter Milan possible starting lineup:
Handanovic; Vrsaljko, Skriniar, Miranda, Asamoah; Vecino, Brozovic; Candreva, Nainggolan, Perisic; Icardi

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur; Dembele, Suarez, Coutinho

Head To Head

Tuesday will be the eighth meeting between these two teams in European competition. Barcelona have won four of the previous seven, suffering just one defeat in the process.

Inter's sole success was a 3-1 win at San Siro in the first leg of their semi-final during the 2009-10 campaign, and they also locked horns in the group stages of that particular season.

The two teams have met on three occasions at San Siro, and two of those matches have finished level, with Barcelona yet to triumph.

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We say: Inter Milan 1-1 Barcelona

Barcelona were too strong for Inter at Camp Nou, but this will be a completely different match. We fancy the two teams to share the points in a low-scoring draw. In truth, both managers would be happy with a point.

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Rafinha celebrates with Philippe Coutinho after opening the scoring for Barcelona in their Champions League tie with Inter Milan on October 24, 2018
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