Inter Milan, Barcelona in top of the group clash
Level on points and heading into the third matchday of Champions League Group C, European heavyweights Inter Milan and Barcelona clash at San Siro tonight. Both sides have seen off Viktoria Plzen but lost to Bayern Munich, but the hosts have endured their worst Serie A start for 11 years while their Catalan counterparts are unbeaten in seven La Liga games to date.
As Inter have won only once from five meetings with Barcelona in Milan, though, they will need to overcome precedent to pick up maximum points. Defensively vulnerable and often unable to hold on to a lead, Inter are ripe for the taking this week, and Barcelona’s much-improved squad are well-placed to take three points home from San Siro.
Having failed to make it through the group stage of last season’s Champions League, finishing third behind Bayern and Benfica, a rejuvenated Barcelona will not want to suffer the same fate again.
Both sides are afflicted by injuries, but the greater depth available to Xavi means that which ever XI starts on Tuesday should have enough guile and experience to see off an ailing home side.
While Antonio Conte‘s men fell to a 3-1 defeat at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, Frankfurt became the first side to defeat early Bundesliga leaders Union Berlin this campaign, with a satisfying 2-0 home win.
While their home form is not fantastic this season, the Europa League holders are clearly a dangerous side, who should not be taken lightly by Conte’s men.
Taking on a Frankfurt side who also have three points in Group D, a positive result in Germany could help to open up a valuable route through to the Champions League knockout stages. With plenty to play for, we expect a buoyant Eintracht Frankfurt to cause Spurs problems coming forward.
However, the Germans have conceded 11 goals at home this season, so are likely to give up a few chances that should be punished by a high-quality forward line.
Liverpool search for recovery as they play Rangers
Liverpool are set to play Rangers at Anfield in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League. Liverpool come into this game on the back of a 3-3 draw against Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton & Hove Albion in the English Premier League. Rangers, on the other hand, beat 10-man Hearts 4-0 in the Scottish Premiership. They are bottom of the group in the Champions League, and have lost both their group games so far.
Liverpool have been poor this season by their lofty standards. Jurgen Klopp’s men have looked off the pace in multiple games, and are currently 9th in the league. The likes of Andrew Robertson, Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah have not been at their very best so far.
Liverpool should be able to cut loose against Rangers, who appear to be lacking quality to be able to properly compete in Group A.
Klopp’s side are clearly lacking confidence at present after a poor start to the season, but Tuesday’s tie could be the start of a long road to recovery for them.
Ajax have had a promising start to the campaign so far, defeating Scottish side Rangers followed by a narrow defeat away to English giants Liverpool at Anfield. On the other hand, visitors Napoli have disposed of Liverpool with a comfortable victory before easing past Rangers at Ibrox to gain maximum points.
Nevertheless, Ajax find themselves in an encouraging position as the group reaches its midway point. They are the joint-third highest scorers in the competition with five goals, whilst Kudus and Berghuis have been particularly threatening in the final third with two goals and two assists, respectively.
Success in reaching the latter stages of Europe’s premier competition has become more difficult in the last two decades for Ajax. Going into a must-win clash against a dangerous Napoli side, they will be hoping to navigate a positive outcome to give them a major boost in their pursuit of Champions League knockout football.
In what will be a tightly contested game in Amsterdam, we expect both sides to create plenty of chances and to play an open game that could leave them susceptible to counter-attacks.
Nevertheless, Napoli will manage to find a way through the Ajax rearguard due to their sheer quality in the final third.
Club Brugge are currently in third place in the Belgian Pro League standings and are yet to hit their stride on the domestic front this season.
Atletico Madrid, on the other hand, are in fifth place in the league table at the moment and have largely failed to meet expectations so far this season.
Atletico Madrid have not been at their best in La Liga this season and have plenty of work to do on the European front. Antoine Griezmann has made an impact off the bench for Diego Simeone so far and will look to make his mark this week.
Club Brugge are perfectly capable of pulling off an upset on their day and are have grown into seasoned European campaigners. Both teams are on an even footing at the moment and could play out a draw.