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Fresh from a convincing 2-0 win over Juventus on Friday coupled with Barcelona‘s subsequent barren draw against city rivals Espanyol on Saturday, the Nerazzurri are hot favourites to win tomorrow’s first leg Champions League semi final tie at the Guiseppe Meazza stadium.
Perennial danger man Samuel Eto’o seems to have found his scoring boots and Mourinho will be counting on him to deliver the goods. The Cameroonian international is enjoying an amazing return to form and he will be one of Barca‘s biggest problem’s. Yes one of the problems.
Judging by Friday’s performance, Barcelona will have a problem containing Inter‘s midfield. Dejan Stankovic, was another player who impressed and Barca should watch out for him. Attack wise, Inter are on point! Eto’o and Milito should spearhead the attack with Mourinho opting to use Pandev or Balotelli as a third attack option.
Barcelona will be boosted by the return of Eric Abidal and Zlatan Ibrahimovic although Iniesta is still a doubt. It will be a second re-union for old boy Ibra as he takes to the San Siro pitch for only the second time since his controversial swap deal which saw Samuel Eto’o go in the opposite direction.
Again we cannot rule out the Messi factor. Right now Messi is Barca’s pointman. The Argentine international has scored more than 30 goals in all competitions and he is expected to lead the Catalans attack. Another youngster who has also impressed this season is Pedro Rodrigues. In fact, Guardiola has so much faith in him that he currently prefers him to former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry.
I expect Barcelona to play their traditional attacking football with a 3 man attack consisting of Messi, Ibrahimovic and Pedro. However, with the likes of Zanetti, Lucio, Samuel and Maicon, Inter’s defense should be more than able to deal with this threat. I am sure you have heard of the volcanic eruptions that occurred in Iceland last Wednesday, spewing ash over Europe’s air space that has rendered flying impossible. Well, this might have an effect on tomorrow’s match as the Barcelona squad were forced to travel by bus to Milan.
Inter will have a full strength squad for this match with Chivu being the only notable absentee. Mourinho will once again use his tactical expertise to create his squad. Guardiola on the other hand will have to counter Mourinho’s formation and bring more players into the game. Inter have already identified Messi as their main problem and if Guardiola can shift focus to the likes of Xavi and Keita then may be he can spring a surprise on Inter. My prediction, 2-1 in favour of Inter.
Photo credit: from rikiriki2008