Champions League: Inter v Barcelona match preview and betting picks

Inter v BarcelonaInter will be hosting the first leg game in the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona today at 20:45 CET at San Siro in Milan. We have looked at all the key facts and stats and analyzed the two teams’ current form before the big clash in Milan.

Barcelona standing strong

Before today’s game Inter have failed to beat Barcelona in the previous four home matches at San Siro in the Champions league and have not even been able to score a goal against Barcelona in any of these games, including the two group stage games this season. Actually Inter have only won one time against Barcelona back in 1970, while Barcelona has won 4 games and 3 ended with a draw. In the two games this season Barcelona won 2-0 at home, while the game in Milan ended 0-0.

This said, Inter have been doing well in their last games in the Champions league and have actually won their last five games. Especially the games against Chelsea in the 1/8-final were excellent from the Italians with victories both home and away against a very strong team and afterward they knocked out CSKA Moscow with two wins in the quarter-final. At the same time they only conceded one goal in these five matches, which shows the great discipline and tactics imposed by manager Jose Mourinho. For the game today they will be missing Dejan Stankovic, Davide Santon and Francesco Toldo.

Inter comes into the match with two wins and a draw in their latest games, where they won 2-0 against Juventus last weekend in Serie A, 1-0 against Fiorentina in Copa Italia and played 2-2 against Fiorentina the weekend before that. They are currently trailing AS Roma by one point in Serie A, which might take away some focus on the Champions League from the defending Italian champions. At the same time Inter is currently under investigation for their involvement in the Calciopoli Scandal, where they are accused of taking with referee designators before games in Serie A. Inter is scheduled for a hearing today, which easily could be another distraction for the Italians.

On the other hand Barcelona is undefeated away in the Champions League for two seasons now and a total of 11 games in a row, but at the same time they only won one of the last eight away games and has drawn seven. Some other interesting stats before tonight’s game is that Barcelona is undefeated against Italian teams in the last seven matches and only lost one time out of eight going to Milan against either Milan or Inter. For the game today they will be missing Andres Iniesta, while Abidal is doubtful.

Discontent

Looking at Barcelona there might be some discontent however as they only managed to draw against local rivals Espanyol in Primera Division in the weekend. This put an end to their great run, where they beat Arsenal twice in the Champions League, Real Madrid in El Clasico and Deportivo La Coruna in Primera Division. The result means, Real Madrid is now back in content for the Primera Division even though they lost El Clasico. Furthermore, the volcanic ash cloud laying over Europe might have forced them to drive across Europe to Milan, which is not the best warm-up before the big clash.

For most parts Inter’s victory against Chelsea was due to Jose Mourinho’s tactically maneuvers, which showed the physical strength of the Inter squad. This will likely be a key factor again tonight in stopping perhaps the best football playing team in the world. The main problem for Inter will be to stop Messi, who has scored 17 goals in 21 matches this and last season in Champions League and showed he could win a match single-handed against Arsenal. The job of marking Messi is likely assigned to Esteban Cambiasso, who will be trying to contain and isolate Messi in the game, which will be very interesting to follow during the match. At the same time Inter must stop Xavi in midfield from feeding the Barcelona offense, while containing the physical strength of Ibrahimovic in front.

Wesley Sneijder

Barcelona on other hand should be looking out for Wesley Sneijder, who seems in great shape at the moment and could be a deciding factor for Inter in scoring a goal against Barcelona. Another player to watch out for is Samuel Eto’o in the Inter attack. He is not the same player as he was in his Barcelona days, but he certainly has the experience to score against his old club.

Our match prediction is somewhat coloured by the historical stats and the fact that it is the first leg of the semi-final. We expect a tactically played game with few chances, as Inter will try to stop Barcelona from scoring a crucial away goal. The betting picks for the match will be a low scoring draw and a likely result will be 0-0 or 1-1. At the moment you can get odds 3.30 for the draw at 888sport, while the 0-0 is offered at odds 9.00 and the 1-1 at odds 7.00 at 888sport. At the same time sports betters should consider playing the under 2.5 goal in the match, which is offered at odds 1.73.

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