Inter vs Barcelona – Betting Tips & Predictions – 06-11
The standout match of this round of Champions League fixtures sees Inter welcome Spanish champions Barcelona to the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium. The Nerazzurri started their season in diabolically poor form, but have improved recently to see off city rivals Milan, thrash Lazio in Rome and then tonk Genoa 5-0 at the weekend. They sit second in Serie A, only the six points behind just-give-them-the-title-already Juventus.
Visitors Barca have dropped nine points so far this season in La Liga, leaving them well behind the pace they set last season, but three points ahead of local irritants Espanyol and an amusing seven ahead of crisis-hit Real Madrid. They’re on maximum points in the Champions League group, having dispatched Spurs 4-2 and PSV 4-0 before beating Inter at the Nou Camp. They’ve also recently pumped Madrid 5-1, so will come into this game with confidence.
Inter vs Barcelona Prediction: Inter 2-3 Barcelona
The Blaugrana have conceded 14 goals in their first 11 league games, so their defence is not the Fort Knox operation it was for much of last season, and had some good fortune in finally overcoming strugglers Rayo Vallecano last weekend after going 2-1 behind. In Mauro Icardi, the hosts have a man more than capable of making merry should Barca lapse in defence again, but it’s how they deal with the visitors’ attack that will be a concern. Leo Messi has travelled to Italy after missing two games with a broken arm. He may or may not play, but even without him the Catalans always carry a threat.
Our recommended tip: Dembele LGS
Barcelona parted with the thick end of £100million, plus add-ons, to pluck France international Ousmane Dembele from Dortmund the summer before last. The jury is out on whether his performances have merited the fee, but in an injury-interrupted spell, this 21-year-old replacement for Neymar has shown an ability to pop up with crucial goals, none more so than the 86th-minute equaliser at Rayo which kept his side’s recent momentum going. More than likely to start on the bench, he’ll be on the field at the end, and is 7/1 (8.00) at Betway to bag the game’s final goal – which, given his pace and energy, is a decent price.
You don’t need to leap too far backwards to see the most recent meeting between these sides – it was just under a fortnight ago in this same group. On the evening, Barcelona triumphed with one goal in either half. Rafinha gave them the lead on 32 minutes, finishing from a Suarez pass. Seven minutes from the end, Ivan Rakitic played in Jordi Alba to finish the game.
This was a small measure of revenge for the 2010 semi-final in which a Jose Mourinho-led Inter won the first leg 3-1 before a classic display of spoiling in the second leg, where a 1-0 Barcelona win was not enough to take Pep Guardiola’s charges to the final.
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Players to watch: Mauro Icardi & Ivan Rakitic
As blessed as Argentina are with excellent forwards, eyebrows were raised when boss Jorge Sampaoli chose not to take Serie A top-scorer Icardi to the World Cup. Looking back, perhaps it was good news for Icardi, as he is not stained by association with his country’s anaemic performance in Russia. Plus, he’s picked up where he left off at club level, scoring six times in eight games in the league this season. He doesn’t do much other than score goals, but he does that enough to be indispensable to Inter.
Rakitic, for his part, was in Russia, and formed part of a fearsome Croatian midfield that powered their side to the final. He’s every bit as important to Barca, having stepped into the role formerly held by midfield magician Andres Iniesta without any apparent drop in quality for the side. Sometimes appearing to be using his mind to make the ball do what he wants, Barca’s number 4 can pick a killer pass in milliseconds – something Inter will know all about, but still struggle to stop.