FC Barcelona (1st, 6pts) vs Inter Milan (2nd, 6pts)
Competition/Round: 2018-19 Champions League, Matchday 3 (Group B)
Barcelona Outs and Doubts: Lionel Messi, Samuel Umtiti, Thomas Vermaelen, Denis Suarez, Carles Aleñá, Sergi Samper (out)
Inter Outs and Doubts: Radja Nainggolan (out), Marcelo Brozovic, Ivan Perisic (doubt)
Date/Time: Wednesday, October 24, 2018, 9pm CET (Barcelona), 8pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 3pm ET, 12pm PT (USA), 12.30am IST (India, Thursday)
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Referee: Ovidiu Haţegan (ROU)
How to watch on TV: TNT (USA), BT Sport ESPN (UK), SuperSport 5 (Nigeria), SONY TEN 2 (India), others
How to stream: B/R Live (USA), BT Sport Live (UK), others
After a very solid performance and a great victory to reclaim the top of La Liga against Sevilla was spoiled by an injury to Lionel Messi, Barcelona now start a three-week life without the best player of all time, and the first two games will be real tests. There’s El Clásico on Sunday, and it doesn’t matter how good or bad Real Madrid are playing. That will be a crazy tough game, especially without Messi.
Before that there’s Inter Milan in the Champions League, a matchup between the two perfect leaders of Group B. They’ll face each other twice in a row, which will most likely determine the winner of the group. Inter are on fire, winning seven consecutive games in Italy and Europe and having just beaten their biggest rivals, AC Milan, with a last-minute goal on Sunday.
They’ll probably face Barça without two key players in Radja Nainggolan and Ivan Perisic, but they have Mauro Icardi, one of the best and most underrated players in world football who cannot stop scoring goals at the moment. Ernesto Valverde cannot rely on Messi Magic in this one, and the other players must know they need to step up and show how good they are.
This will be tough, but Barça have enough talent to not only win, but to do it convincingly. We’ll find out if they can.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Roberto, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur; Dembélé, Suárez, Coutinho
Inter (4-2-3-1): Handanovič; Vrsaljko, De Vrij, Škriniar, Asamoah; Vecino, Brozović; Candreva, Valero, Keita; Icardi
My mind is telling me this team isn’t prepared for a big game without Messi, but my heart trusts these players too much: 2-0 Barça.