Spanish giants Barcelona host their Italian counter-parts Inter in a crucial UEFA Champions League group stage encounter on Wednesday night.
Barcelona lost 1-0 at the San Siro last week in a match riddled with refereeing disputes, leaving the Catalans trailing Inter and leaders Bayern Munich in Group C.
A win for Inter would move Simone Inzaghi’s side six points clear of Barcelona with just two games remaining. Boasting an excellent head-to-head record against the Catalans, even if they draw at the Camp Nou, the Nerazzurri would progress to the knockout stages with a win at home to Viktoria Plzen later this month.
Here’s everything you need to know about the high-stakes UEFA Champions League match.
Barcelona team news
Barcelona are snowed under with injuries – many of which are concentrated in their defensive ranks. Hector Bellerin (leg), Andreas Christensen (ankle) and Ronald Araujo (hip) are all highly unlikely to feature in midweek. Jules Kounde may have a chance of making El Clasico on Sunday but isn’t expected to be fit for Wednesday night.
Xavi was forced to field a back-four with three left-backs in it against Celta on Sunday night, eking out a 1-0 win which belied the visitors’ mountains of chances. Frenkie de Jong came off the bench on the weekend but his compatriot Memphis Depay (hamstring) and fellow midfielder Franck Kessie (muscle) are set to remain on the sidelines.
Barcelona predicted lineup vs Inter
Barcelona Starting 11 (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Garcia, Alonso; Pedri, Busquets, Gavi; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Dembele.
Bench: Pena, Tenas, Balde, Torre, Alba, De Jong, Casado, Torres, Fati.
Inter team news
Romelu Lukaku is building his way back to full fitness but the latest reports suggest the Belgian may not be available for the trip to Catalonia. Joaquin Correa’s knee injury has robbed Simone Inzaghi of the mobile front two he fielded when the sides met last week – although Edin Dzeko did warm up for the contest with a brace against Sassuolo.
Marcelo Brozovic is still nursing a hamstring injury while back-up goalkeeper Alex Cordaz is struggling with a ligament problem.
Inter predicted lineup vs Barcelona
Inter Starting 11 (3-5-2): Onana; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Calhanoglu, Mkhitaryan, Dimarco; Martinez, Dzeko.
Bench: Handanovic, D’Ambrosia, Acerbi, Gosens, Bellanova, Darmian, Gagliardini, Stankovic, Carboni.
Barcelona vs Inter score prediction
The emphasis is emphatically on the hosts – rather than Inter – to claim all three points on Wednesday, giving the Nerazzurri a clear avenue to play on the counterattack and expose the defensive instability that is masked by Barcelona’s misleadingly measly goals conceded tally.
However, Inter are hardly a picture of perfection themselves and will miss the dynamism provided by the absent pairing of Correa and Lukaku.
Barcelona have the quality in their ranks to overcome the low block which Inter employed to frustrate them last week but it is certainly an encounter which could go either way. The closest thing to a certainty is that it will be enthralling viewing.
Prediction: Barcelona 2-1 Inter