The UEFA Champions League is under way and match day two has the most enticing match-up of the group stages. La Liga Champions FC Barcelona who won the treble (Spanish league, cup, and champions league) will visit Inter Milan who won the Scudetto (Italian League) last season.
On any occasion this match up would be mouth watering enough but there are added ingredients to make this a true blockbuster game. These two clubs swapped “superstar” forwards with Zlatan Ibrahimovic moving from Inter to Barca for Samuel Etoo’ plus 45 million Euros. These are two of the most prolific goal scorers in Europe.
The Pep Guardiola-Jose Mourinho battle is as intriguing as any. These two coaches are both very sound tactically. Their work ethic and training methods are well respected by their “super-star” studded line-ups. It is not easy to manage such locker rooms and egos, but Pep and Jose do it better than anyone in world football. They are both obsessed with the game of soccer and work every detail in game preparation. Whose team will execute better on the night?
Now to the tactical breakdown and prediction that we will be giving for most top flight games in world soccer this season.
FC Barcelona 4-3-3 – Valdes, Alves, Puyol, Pique, Abidal, Xavi, Toure, Keita or Busquets, Messi, Ibrahimovic, Henry
Inter 4-4-2 – Julio Cesar, Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Chivu, Stankovic or Muntari, Motta, Zanetti, Sneijder, Etoo, Milito
FC Barcelona is one of the few teams in world football with a set identity on the field. They want to OWN POSSESSION of the ball at all times. Look for them to win the battle for ball possession like they do in every game on any field they play. Inter will crowd the midfield trio Barca put out with a diamond shaped midfield composed of 4 players. Dani Alves projections on the right side of the field will be crucial as ever if Barca are to have the width to create problems for Inter. Can the Inter back line neutralize Lionel Messi with an older (and slower) Chivu?
Inter will be happy to employ Guus Hiddink’s Chelsea tactics used in Champions League semis last season. I am certain Jose Mourinho will not be caught playing Barcelona 50-50. He knows what he’s up against and witnessed it first hand at the Camp Nou a couple weeks back scouting in person. He is savvy enough to sit, counter attack, and hurt Barca where they are most vulnerable, on set pieces! Inter can now be very dangerous with this game plan. They have the right pieces in place with Wesley Sneijder pulling the strings in midfield and a great attacking Combo in Etoo-Milito.
Prediction – I’m inclined to say that whichever forward is sharper on the night will give his team the 3 points. Both Ibrahimovic and Etoo will want to prove to their new fans that they are better than their counterpart. This is Barca’s hardest game in pool play and a tie will suit them. Look for Samuel Etoo, the sharper of the two at the moment, to punish his old club and celebrate it with his new fans!
Inter – 2
Barca – 1
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