Inter vs Barcelona : Inter Milan host Barcelona at the San Siro Stadium in Group B of the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League on Tuesday. The Serie A outfit need to put pressure on the Blaugrana for top spot in the group.
Barca’s cause won’t be helped by the uncertainty surrounding the status of attacking talisman Lionel Messi. The prolific No. 10 is dealing with a fractured arm and remains a doubt for the trip to Milan.
Messi has travelled with the squad to Italy, but he “doesn’t have medical clearance to play,” according to Sport‘s Ivan San Antonio. A late decision will be made on the availability of Barca’s best player.
Inter will rely on their own match-winner up top in the form of gifted No. 9 Mauro Icardi. He couldn’t get on the scoresheet the last time the two sides met, as Barca ran out 2-0 winners at the Camp Nou thanks to goals from Rafinha and Jordi Alba.
If Messi does miss out, Barca need a plan for rounding out their forward line. The fans’ vote is for summer signing Malcom to be given more playing time.
He topped a poll run recently by Mundo Deportivo (h/t Ben Hayward of the London Evening Standard) asking supporters who should take Messi’s place during his layoff.
Malcom has only made two substitute appearances in La Liga since signing from Bordeaux last season. Even so, the Brazilian winger has the pace, trickery and vision to combine well with Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele.
A front three this fluid can trouble an Inter defence underpinned by centre-back Milan Skriniar. The Slovakia international is a transfer target of Barcelona’s, per Italian publication Tuttosport (h/t Calciomercato).
Skriniar will be keen to impress, as will Icardi, who has proved he can score at any level. The Argentinian is also in a rich vein of form:
Inter’s key players can make home advantage count, especially if Messi misses out. However, Barca have enough strength in depth to earn a point from the toughest trip in the group.