Barcelona have qualified for a place in the Champions League Round of 16 thanks to a 1-1 draw with Inter Milan at the San Siro. A very good game of football between two teams that wanted to win saw two late goals, one from Barça’s Malcom, that gave both sides a very good point.
Both teams needed a result, and both teams played like they did, with high pressing the goalkeepers and plenty of players flying forward looking to create chances. But just like we saw at Camp Nou, Inter just looked out of their depth at times and couldn’t deal with Barça’s attacking talent and defensive organization.
The Blaugrana ended up dominating the entire first half, controlling possession and creating chance after chance with quick passing, smart runs and high pressing. Luis Suárez wasted at least two very good opportunities, and Ousmane Dembélé forced a great save from Handanovic early on; Ivan Rakitic and Philippe Coutinho also had their attempts from distance, and full-backs Sergi Roberto and Jordi Alba were always dangerous with their runs.
Unfortunately for Barça, they were just wasteful in front of goal and couldn’t translate their dominance into goals. And at halftime, as poor as they looked, Inter felt like they had a chance to steal a point (or three).
The game didn’t change at all, with Inter unable to create any meaningful attacks while Barça started to become very dangerous on the counter with the home side more open at the back. Luis Suárez had a goal correctly disallowed in the 60th minute, and Barça looked more and more likely to score with every passing minute.
But substitute Borja Valero came on for Inter, and the game changed: Valero started running the midfield, the two full-backs started bombing forward at the same time, and Inter had plenty of numbers in the final third. Ernesto Valverde countered with Arturo Vidal to add more physicality to the Barça midfield, and the visitors were once again in control and playing at their pace.
And then Barça scored to end a great away performance: a beautiful counter attack started by Coutinho was finished with a fantastic strike from Malcom, who had been on the pitch for just over 60 seconds and scored the opener with his first touch. Barça’s celebrations were cut short when Mauro Icardi equalized just four minutes later, and we looked set for a draw at San Siro.
The draw did come with the final whistle, and Barça are now just two points away from winning their group with two games left. Qualification is already in the bag, and the performance was very good (without Messi!), so this is a good night out in Italy.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur (Vidal); Dembélé (Malcom), Suárez, Coutinho
Goal: Malcom (83’)
Inter Milan: Handanovic; Vrsaljko, Skriniar, De Vrij, Asamoah; Vecino, Brozovic (Lautaro); Politano (Candreva), Nainggolan (Borja Valero), Perisic; Icardi
Goal: Icardi (87’)