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Champions League: Barcelona v Inter Preview

Having seized the early initiative in Group B, Barcelona and Inter will both be looking to make it three wins out of three as they meet at the Camp Nou tonight.

The last time the two clubs met in a competitive match was in the Champions League semi-finals in 2010 when Inter won the first leg 3-1 at San Siro. Despite a 1-0 defeat at the Camp Nou, José Mourinho’s Inter held on to reach the final, where they beat Bayern Munich to claim their third European title.

Team News & Tactics
Barcelona

The defensive line is already stretched by the absence of Samuel Umtiti and Thomas Vermaelen, rendering Ernesto Valverde with just Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet as the only options in central defence. Sergi Roberto and Jordi Alba should slot in on either side of the pairing.

The midfield has looked out of sorts recently. Arthur Melo has been the lone bright spark and should be handed another start. Sergio Busquets is almost a certain starter against Inter Milan while the third spot is likely to be taken up by Ivan Rakitic.

With Lionel Messi unavailable, Ernesto Valverde will use it as an opportunity to perhaps, give Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele both a start. Malcom will remain an option from the bench, with Luis Suarez starting up front. The Uruguayan needs to build up some form, with a torrid start to the season so far.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur; Dembele, Suarez, Coutinho

Inter Milan
Radja Nainggolan is the latest name to be added to the list of unavailable players. The Belgian is nursing an ankle injury suffered in the 1-0 win over AC Milan during the weekend and will have to sit the game out. Croatian stars Ivan Perisic and Marcelo Brozovic are both doubts for the game and despite being a part of the travelling squad, are unlikely to start against Barcelona.

Add to that the likes of Dalbert, Robert Gagliardini and Joao Mario, all of whom are ineligible to play for Inter Milan in the Champions League and Spalletti has a lot on his plate, as far as selection issues are concerned.

There is no reason for Spalletti to switch back to a three-man formation, with the manager likely to stick to the 4-2-3-1, a formation that the players seem comfortable with. Milan Skriniar and Stefan de Vrij are certain starters in central defence, with Sime Vrsaljko also likely to start in the right-back slot. Kwadwo Asamoah should guard the left flank for Inter Milan.

Matias Vecino and Borja Valero are the only natural options in holding midfield and the pair should start in the pivot of the 4-2-3-1. Spalletti could go for experience in attack, which should see Antonio Candreva being preferred over Matteo Politano on the right wing.

Keita Balde should start on the left, especially with Ivan Perisic doubtful for the game. Mauro Icardi is the obvious choice upfront, although Lautaro Martinez is an intriguing option and could come into play from the bench at some point during the game.

Alternatively, with Ivan Perisic doubtful, we could see Mauro Icardi start in the second striker role, with Lautaro Martinez playing as the focal point of attack, just ahead of the Inter Milan captain.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Handanovic; Vrsaljko, de Vrij, Skriniar, Asamoah; Vecino, Valero; Candreva, Icard, Keita; Martinez