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Inter v Slavia Preview

Champions League Trophy

Romelu Lukaku should be fit to start Inter’s Champions League opener against Slavia Prague tonight.

Lukaku was considered a doubt to face Slavia, but the striker is being tipped to partner Lautaro Martinez in Inter’s attack.

Elsewhere, Danilo D’Ambrosio should come into central defence at Diego Godin’s expense and Valentino Lazaro is in line for his official debut on the right wing.

Slavia, meanwhile, are in the Champions League group stage for only the second time in their history after winning the Czech title last season.

Midfielder Josef Husbauer is their only player with Serie A experience, having played twice for Cagliari in 2015.

Form guide

• Fourth in Serie A in 2018/19, Inter are the last Italian team to win the UEFA Champions League, in 2010 – their third European Cup triumph, and first in 45 years.

• This is the 13th time Inter have been in the group stage – last season was their first appearance since 2011/12.

• In 2018/19 Inter won their first two fixtures, against Tottenham and PSV Eindhoven, but picked up only two more points to lose out to Spurs on head-to-head record and finished third in Group B, which was won by Barcelona. Moving into the UEFA Europa League, they knocked out Rapid Wien in the round of 32 (1-0 a, 4-0 h) but lost 1-0 in the home second leg, and on aggregate, against Eintracht Frankfurt in the last 16.

• Defeat by Eintracht ended Inter’s six-match unbeaten home run in European matches (W4 D2).

• Last season was the first time in nine UEFA Champions League campaigns Inter had failed to progress from their group.

• This is Inter’s fifth match against a Czech club, and a first since being paired with Sparta Praha in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League group stage, when they lost 3-1 in Prague before a 2-1 home success.

• Champions of the Czech Republic for the second time in three years last season – their 18th domestic title – and also Czech Cup winners, completing their first double in the Czech Republic, Slavia have successfully negotiated the UEFA Champions League qualifying rounds for only the second time. Since their sole previous group appearance 12 years ago – when they finished third in their section behind Arsenal and Sevilla – the Prague club have lost in the preliminary rounds four times.

• Twelve months ago Slavia were beaten 3-1 on aggregate by Dynamo Kyiv in the third qualifying round (1-1 h, 0-2 a). Moving into the UEFA Europa League group stage, Jindřich Trpišovský’s side finished second behind Zenit in their section and went on to get the better of Genk and Sevilla in the knockout rounds before losing 5-3 to eventual champions Chelsea over two games (0-1 h, 3-4 a) in the quarter-finals.

• Slavia entered this season’s UEFA Champions League in the play-offs, where they beat Romania’s CFR Cluj 1-0 both home and away. Before that tie, they had won only one of their last 15 matches in the UEFA Champions League (D7 L7).

• The Prague club picked up five points in their only previous UEFA Champions League group campaign, in 2007/08, four of them against Steaua București (2-1 h, 1-1 a); they also drew 0-0 at home against Arsenal.

• This is Slavia’s first match against an Italian club since autumn 2009, when they drew 0-0 at home against Genoa having lost 2-0 away in the UEFA Europa League group stage. The latter result extended their run of defeats in Italy to six matches in six visits, the last three without scoring; Slavia’s trips to Serie A sides have resulted in three goals scored and 12 conceded.

Probable Lineups
Inter: Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, De Vrij, Skriniar; Lazaro, Vecino, Brozovic, Sensi, Asamoah; Lautaro, Lukaku

Slavia Prague: Kolar; Coufal, Hovorka, Kudela, Boril; Soucek, Traore; Masopust, Stanciu, Olayinka; Van Buren

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