Real Madrid are in the build-up towards one of the much-anticipated fixtures in the UCL season, facing Italian heavyweights Inter Milan. This was a much-celebrated matchup even as the groups were being decided, and now it has grown its significance. It has shaped into a do or die tie.
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What Real did wrong?
They lost 2-3 to the Ukrainian side at home on their opening fixture of Champions League, despite the fact that the visitors were without a number of key players due to a coronavirus outbreak.
Los Blancos found themselves 2-0 behind away to Borussia Monchengladbach in their second game last week but managed to secure a point late on courtesy of goals from Karim Benzema and Casemiro.
They will be looking for their first win in 2020-21 Champions League in the group now proving to be trickier than anticipated
What Inter Milan did wrong?
Last year’s Europa League Runner up Inter Milan was hefty but they are still in search of their first win. They were held to a 2-2 draw by Gladbach before playing out a goalless draw with Shakhtar before that. They have a healthy total but they will be looking up at a tough fixture. They are without a win in their last two matches.
◆ In history, Real Madrid and Inter Milan have locked horns in some of the spiciest matches. Both the teams dominate in their respective home games. Real Madrid has the second least winning percentage in UCL against Inter- 33% (First is against Lyon with 30%)
◆ Real have great memories in the recent past against the Italian side. In Real’s last 9 games against Italian sides, They only lost one- against Juve in 17/18 UCL. Further, Inter has a poor record in away games with Spanish sides- they've lost 15 in the last 20.
◆ Coming back to the present, Inter Milan has turned back into a reckoning force in recent times, coming second behind Juve by a single point in Serie A last season. They got dropped to Europa League last season but they reached the final only to lose against Sevilla.
◆ The two proven winners at both the benches will be locking horn for the first time as managers. People accuse Zidane for lack of tactics, while Conte the much-celebrated tactician also failed to take full points from these teams.
Team talk and Lineups:
◆ They play in the traditional Conte 3-5-2, which he has mastered and perfected since his days at Juventus and later at Chelsea. They try to play dominant football and enjoy possession, showed by their average rate of around 60%.
◆ They create 4.5 big chances per game (compared to our 3.3) and fire 11 shots per game with 4 on target. They have scored 15 goals from 6 league games this season, while also conceding 10.
◆ Conte has been doing his rotations well, switching players to ensure no one is overworked. But their squad depth has gone under the radar cheaply. They have accumulated a host of good players in the last few windows, all suitable to the Conte game. Ex-Real Madrid academy player Hakimi will be the talking point. Players like Eriksen, Vidal, Sanchez, etc who have plenty of experience playing against Real will be an ex-factor for Conte.
◆ Romelu Lukaku will miss the match due to injury. He could have been a force to be reckoned with provided his recent form.
◆ Expected lineup:
Handanovic - De Vrij - Bastoni - D'Ambrosio - Darmian - Brozovic - Eriksen - Barella - Hakimi - Perisic – Lautaro
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◆ real Madrid will most probably play a 4-3-3 again, as this formation suits well for Zidane’s style. Especially with Hazard back, they are looking to play to their strengths. Unless Zidane's history of taking extra midfielders to big games comes to play yet again. But giving a numerical superiority against a team who likes to play it out from back and prefers possession; doesn’t seem like a bad idea.
◆ if Inter takes a defensive approach, Real might find it difficult to break through which was evident in their last few games with a team that has a low defensive block.
◆ Vasquez is back on the squad while Eder Militao is off due to Covid19. So, Real will be fielding Vasquez at RB again. But a busy customer will be knocking at his door named Ivan Perisic.
◆ Modric won’t be starting by the looks of it as he played long minutes at the weekend against Huesca. But if they decide to play an extra midfielder Isco or he will probably assist Kross, Casemiro and Valverde.
◆ Expected lineup:
Courtois - Mendy - Ramos - Varane - Vasquez - Kroos - Casemiro - Valverde - Hazard - Benzema - Asensio.
What to expect
t would be an interesting battle to watch. There will be combination play and some solid defensive display as both the team is known for their defensive transition. However, Zidane’s team is yet to show a tactical identity of their own. They managed to win La Liga by some tremendous work rate and never say never attitude towards the end of the campaign. Barcelona dropping the points helped their cause.
While Inter has been showing some steady growth under Conte. His team offers a scintillating offensive transition spearheaded by Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez. But the absence of their star goal scorer will be felt. Conte is known for his discipline and concentration. But he is not known for his abilities in big games.
While Madrid boss Zizou is known for his impeccable record against big names. When the stage is set, stakes are high and fans demand an all out performance, Zizou delivers.
2014 - Real Madrid 3 : 4 Inter Milan
2015 - Inter Milan 0 : 3 Real Madrid
The experts are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or an away win in this match.
Real Madrid 3 : 1 Inter Milan