EUROPE: World Cup – Qualification
Time: 20:00 PM
Venue: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza (San Siro) (Milan)
Inter Milan’s unbeaten start to their Serie A title defence (W2, D1) is their preparation for meeting Real Madrid in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League (UCL) for the second consecutive season. They’ll be keen to exact revenge after losing both fixtures last term, including defeat in a home H2H for the first time in a long-established European rivalry (W7, D2, L8 – all venues).
Since that setback, Simone Inzaghi’s side has lost just one competitive match here (W17, D1), which must give the ‘Nerazzurri’ hope of avoiding a repeat of last season, and could evoke memories of 1964 when they beat Madrid 3-1 to win the first of their three European Cup/UCL titles. They completed a hat-trick of a different sort last term though, failing to reach the UCL knockout stages for a third consecutive season.
Both sides are expected to get through Group D, and Madrid should entertain as they’ve been scoring for fun in La Liga this term (W3, D1, GD +7), marking their return to the Santiago Bernabéu on Sunday with a 5-2 win over Celta Vigo. This is also a homecoming of sorts for ex-AC Milan manager Carlo Ancelotti, who knows what it takes to win against Inter (W16, D5, L11).
That experience could prove useful as ‘Los Blancos’ have been inconsistent in recent UCL away games with their last seven such matches producing a different outcome to the one before (W2, D2, L3). However they have won their last six UCL fixtures in Italy, the last four ‘to nil’, so could begin their UCL trophy push with victory.
Players to watch: Lautaro Martínez (INT) scored against Sampdoria on Sunday with his second consecutive league goal between the 40th and 50th minute. Coincidentally, Madrid’s Karim Benzema has netted between the same period in both of his goalscoring league appearances this term.
- Inter’s form in last 5 matches: DWWWW.
- Real Madrid’s form in last 5 matches: WWDWD