Tonight two of Europe’s powerhouses will flex their muscles against each other in what can only be labeled ”The Clash of the Titans.” At 20.45 CET Italian champions Inter Milan and reigning European champions Barcelona will walk out onto the pitch in the mighty San Siro with 85,000 spectators framing what is expected to be an enthralling affair.
Inter have been underachievers on the European scene for a long time now but will have the advantage of their home field as they hope to kick off their Champions League season in fashion.
Barcelona have won two European cups in the past four years and are undoubtedly the best team in the world at the moment—laying the foundation for an unforgettable evening.
Emotions are running high ahead of a game that has all the ingredients to become a modern classic.
Two masterminds set to measure their tactical brilliance guiding two of Europe’s leading powerhouses.
The world’s best player out for official confirmation.
The unwanted goal scorer now seeking revenge for the unjustified way he was treated.
The former icon now a hated traitor who’s returning home perhaps sooner than he expected in order to take on his former supporters and teammates.
It’s game time.
The Champions League has been top priority for Inter Milan for the past couple of seasons, but their disappointing performances on the European stage have seen them fail repeatedly.
Inter patron Massimo Moratti is tired of the excuses and has spent big money this summer on bringing in players that have the ability to add that extra dimension to the game, which could ultimately deliver them the long evasive trophy.
The typical one-dimensional play has become a distant memory with the sale of their Swede superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Inter have now become a more balanced and complete side with impressive acquisitions such as Lucio, Thiago Motta, Wesley Sneijder, Diego Milito, and Samuel Eto’o.
Inter have collected seven points in their first three outings of the season, and although things hasn’t flowed perfectly yet, the players have integrated well into the team and are showing immense potential.
The reigning champions are, without doubt, favorites for the Scudetto, but it’s the clash against Barcelona tonight that will allow them to measure just how good they really are—or, more importantly, if they have a decent chance to go far in the finest tournament of them all.
Eto’o, who has fit in superbly into his new team, can rise where his predecessor Ibrahimovic failed. Whereas the Sweden international has an impressive record in Serie A, the same can hardly be said for the the Champions League.
The Cameroon, on the other hand, has an outstanding goal tally in the Spanish domestic league and has also on a continuous basis proved his worth in the European cups—scoring in both of the Champions League finals where he walked off as the winner.
The forward is probably fired up to score against his old side after the treatment he received, seeing that he was merely a pawn in the exchange deal that took Ibrahimovic to the Nou Camp. The forward was unhappy about not getting the respect a player of his caliber deserves—especially after giving so much to the club.
Probable starting XI
Cesar; Maicon, Samuel, Lucio, Chivu; Stankovic, Sneijder, Zanetti, Motta; Milito, Eto’o.
Last season Barcelona managed the unimaginable in Pep Guardiola's rookie season—the Blaugrana coach led the club to a historic treble as the team triumphed in La Liga, Copa del Rey, and the Champions League.
No club has won the title in succession since the tournament changed to the Champions League in 1993, and although the Blaugrana are hot favorites for this season’s edition of the tournament, Guardiola has confessed that it will be difficult—if not impossible—to repeat last year’s success story.
Guardiola made it very clear early on that he wanted to get rid of Samuel Eto’o and motivated the move by declaring that the club was in need of a change. The Barcelona tactician had his eyes set on Inter’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and the interest was mutual.
On July 28 Ibrahimovic was unveiled as the club’s latest acquisition and very surprisingly kissed Barcelona’s club emblem in front of a crowd of more than 50,000 spectators. The Swede has scored twice in his two league games with Barcelona, and despite struggling somewhat with the team’s style of play, he’s started to settle into his new surroundings.
The Swede is in for an emotional return but can only expect indifference or a nasty welcome after doing almost everything on his side to fire up the heat ahead of the clash. The outspoken forward has already declared that the Blaugrana are a better team than his prior club as he credited the Nerazzurri’s last three Scudetti to himself.
The new Barcelona has been dubbed the “dream team” by the media, and with last year’s performances in mind, it’s easy to understand why. The team still has a 100 percent record in the league, but they’re going to have to step up a gear for the European cup competition.
When Barca plays at their potential, they are a joy to watch. On top of that they showcase such inspirational teamwork, which is sprinkled perfectly with individual brilliance from players such as Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, and the world’s best player right now, Lionel Messi.
Probable starting XI
Valdez; Alves, Puyol, Pique, Abidal; Xavi, Toure, Keita; Messi, Ibrahimovic, Henry