Fc Barcelona vs Inter Milan: Match Preview

After managing to take away 3 crucial points from their rather dull performance against Mallorca, La Blaugrana now turn their attention towards the Champions League, where they next travel to Italy to face Inter Milan on Tuesday.

Fc Barcelona vs Inter Milan: Match Preview

Match Details:

Date: Tuesday, October 4th, 2022

Competition: Uefa Champions League

Matchday: 03

Venue: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza (San Siro)

Time: 09:00 pm Central European Time

Referee: Slavko Vincic (Slovenia)

Match Overview:

To say that Inter Milan have had a less than ideal start to their Serie A campaign may as well be a vivid understatement. 4 wins and 4 losses out of their opening 8 league fixtures so far have left the Nerazzurri in 9th position in the Serie A, equalling their worst start to a league campaign in their top-flight football history.

They’ve faired equally inconsistently in the Champions League, also maintaining a 50% win rate (same as Barca’s) with a loss against Bayern Munich and a 2-0 win against Viktoria Plzen in their previous outing in the Champions League.

In terms of tactical approach, Simone Inzaghi has a very structured approach to his typical game plan. The wingbacks are key to Inter’s system, allowing access to lethal counter-attacks on both flanks as the central players overload specific portions of the field to limit the opposition from dedicating too many men to cover the width of the field, allowing frequent attacks from the wings. Implementing a “total football” philosophy at times, Inzaghi’s team specializes in vertical progression and does not derivate much from it, as it helps them both negate the opposition’s press and launch their own counter-attacks, which is specifically the most dangerous element of their tactics.

However, in recent games, Inter have been let down in this regard due to a number of factors. injuries and absences of players such as the ever-so-important Marcelo Brozovic and Romelu Lukaku, both of whom will not be available against Barca either, have taken its toll.

Besides that, they have appeared rather sluggish this season as the games have progressed, having managed an average of 2.15 xG across their first 3 opening games, only to slump down to 1.59 xG currently across all their competitive games this season, showcasing the lack of creativity at times when it comes to creating goal-oriented chances. This slacks in comparison to Barcelona, who have maintained a 3.035 xG across their last 6 La Liga games prior to Mallorca, and currently hold a 2.58 xG average across all competitive games this season, eclipsing Inter’s.

Potential Line-up:

Goalkeeper: Marc Andre Ter Stegen

Following a solid performance yet again from the German International against Mallorca, it seems Ter Stegen may as well have regained his best form as a Barca player, having also recently bested his previous record of minutes without conceding. He slots in between the sticks without question. 

Centre-Back: Andreas Christensen

With a well-rounded performance against Mallorca, Christensen seems to be growing in this Barca team each passing matchday. His sense of space, quality of passing, and ball progression make him a tailormade center-back for Xavi’s system.

Centre-Back: Eric Garcia

Rested against Mallorca and was instead replaced by Pique, but his quality has been in no doubt under Xavi so far this season. He may be the favorite to slot in alongside Christensen, although there does exist a possibility of Pique starting following his solid display vs Mallorca.

Left-Back: Balde / Alonso

1) Balde:

Given his sudden rise to the starting XI on multiple occasions, Balde has not let the opportunity leave his grasp. His pace and work rate could prove to be instrumental against Inter Milan.

2) Alonso:

Marcos Alonso will be staying back with the two center-backs when we start buildup, while Sergio Roberto will become an inverted fullback to join in an offensive transition and to also counter the Nerazzuri’s Midfield superiority. This will ensure that Barca play with their familiar system mostly while also negating any disadvantages it might face due to The opposition’s setup in Midfield. Hopefully, Xavi gets it right on the pitch as well and the Blaugrana come on top at the Giuseppe Meazza.

As we are 3v3 in the midfield, we can easily create a central overload either with Lewandowski dropping deep (which he often likes to do) or involving a fullback, which would ease retaining the ball and creating space by drawing the opposition out of position, and we are already in a chance.

Right-Back: Sergi Roberto

Back from his injury issues, and rested to regain fitness in the previous game, all signs point to Roberto being deployed at right back in this crucial game, as most others who could be used in that position are unavailable.

Defensive Midfielder: Sergio Busquets

Somewhat of a no-brainer, Xavi has entrusted Busquets to maintain his team’s structure throughout the season so far. The Spanish International even today acts as a very competent backbone for this rather young Barcelona side, allowing quick switches of play and an always available outlet to pass to if other players get forced into a blockade.

Central Midfielder: Pedri

Rested for most of the previous game, Pedri seems primed to start this match against Inter Milan. One of the team’s most pivotal players, his composure and creativity will be much needed in this must-win game for the Catalans.

Central Midfielder: Gavi/Kessie

A toss-up between Kessie and Gavi to take this spot, however, I believe Gavi may as well take the place in the starting XI here due to two factors:

i) Gavi provides energy in midfield that bodes really well with the likes of Lewandowski should his press be absorbed by the opposition, allowing the young Gavi to run rampant on multiple occasions to steal the ball back in an aggressive area.

ii) His chemistry, slowly but surely, has grown quite potently within the triangle of him, Pedri, and Busquets, something they may as well carry on to the National stage in solid fashion.

On the other hand, some defenses for Kessie could be:

i) He provides a more defensively sound outlet against a Milan team that may as well prioritize physical overload, which Kessie can handle quite well.

ii) He has much more experience playing against Inter Milan while he played his trade in the Serie A, potentially making Xavi give him the chance to provide experience against this specific opponent.

Right-Winger: Raphinha

Just like Alonso’s case, a lot of the Catalan media seems to believe Raphinha may as well start this game. In actuality, that seems very plausible. Rested against Mallorca despite excellent form for Brazil during the international break, he may surely get his chance to return to the starting XI against Inter.

Left-Winger: Ousmane Dembele

Xavi’s preferred winger in terms of hierarchy in that wide position, Dembele could use his creativity and venturing runs to provide Barcelona that X-factor that very so often can produce magic out of seemingly nothing. He will possibly be deployed on the left, however, as Raphinha may be deployed on the right.

Striker: Lewandowski

The man of the hour, and Barcelona’s current top scorer this season with 12 goals in 9 official games, Robert Lewandowski will be raring to increase that tally even further against this Inter team.

Expected Line-up:

Formation: 4-3-3

Goalkeeper: Ter Stegen

Defenders: Balde, Christensen, Eric, Roberto

Midfielders: Pedri, Busquets, Gavi/Kessie

Forwards: Dembele, Lewandowski, Raphinha

Fc Barcelona vs Inter Milan: Expected Line-up

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