Match of the night
Inter vs Barcelona
Pick your storyline. Be it 2 of the better teams facing each other at this stage, or be it the tale of the two number 9s who went on the pre-season bargain exchange. Or be it the clash of the 2 managers, the “young” one vs the “special” one. This one’s got all the makings of a bollywood blockbuster, starring your customary Khans, having a couple of good item numbers etc etc. You get the picture.
There’s little doubt that Inter and Barca are expected to provide the fireworks for the evening. Mourinho, true to his style, packed his suits and array of controversies along with him to the fashion capital. In his very first season, he ensured that Inter emerged victorious in the League, and also added a Supercup Silverware, but the fans weren’t too happy with the customary “suck” in the grand-daddy of them all, the CL. He has revamped his team going into season, and very quietly, he’s putting the pieces in place for Inter to cause a flutter or two this time around.
Barca and Guardiola , on the other hand, have been the definition of complete success, earning the historic treble in the last season, and in mouth-watering fashion. The loss of Deco and ‘Dinho didn’t seem to hurt the Catalans as they went on to put one scintillating performance after another. So dominating was their showing last season that their closest rivals, Real, had to bring in supreme overlords of the galaxies, such as CR17, Kaka, Benzema etc., and also threatened to take over the inter-stellar galaxy.
Can Inter Steal one?
The pieces are there. Inter’s probably going to start off with their customary 4-3-1-2 formation. With Lucio, Maicon and Samuel at the back, the physical presence is there to push the slighter players off the the ball, preventing the famous Barca build-ups. The ageless Zanetti will be covering tonnes of real estate in the flanks – relishing his DM/wing role. Sneijder can be a little brilliant with his ball distribution and set pieces. Should he fail, Stankovic at the CF role is absolutely deadly. And to finish up front – Inter can look up to ex-Barca man Eto’o and an effective Diego Milito to link up and take the chances. The game is being played at the San Siro , where Inter have quite an impeccable record of late. The last 3 games have resulted in a Draw-Win- Win for them, and they would like to keep this going.
Can Barca Emerge Victorious?
Even if you put Barcelona up on the Himalayas, they will try to play true to their style. They will start in their now famous 4-3-3 formation. The experience of Puyol and Pique at the centre will try to stuff out Eto’o and his tendencies. However, it’s at remaining 2/3rds of the field that Barcelona gets its identity and definition. With Xavi and Iniesta flanking Toure at the centre, Barca have arguably one of the best midfields in the business. If that is not enough, Henry, Messi and Ibra will be hovering around the box, each with the ability to create chances, space and score.
What will happen..
Barcelona will initially find the going tough. Mourinho will expect his defense and midfield to be physical and suffocate Barca’s space and midfield – the creative heart. The “trade ” of Eto’o and Zlatan will prove that it is Inter that ended up with the better side of the deal.
Barca will pick up its game in the 2nd half and respond in style. However, with the Barca D concentrating on their former striker like rabid dogs, Milito will steal one for Inter, leaving Barca a chance to exact revenge during the return leg.
Prediction: Inter 2 – Barca 1
Man of the Match: D. Milito (Inter)
Lyon vs Fiorentina : 3-1
Standard vs Arsenal : 0-3
Liverpool vs Debrecen: 2-0