Inter Milan vs Real Madrid - 5 key players to watch out for | UEFA Champions League 2021-22

Inter Milan meet Real Madrid for the third time in less than 12 months.
Inter Milan meet Real Madrid for the third time in less than 12 months.

As the 2021-22 Champions League is upon us, the iconic stadium of San Siro gears up for a blockbuster clash between Inter Milan and Real Madrid on Wednesday.

The two sides know each other well, after they were drawn in the same group in last year's edition. Both games were won by Los Blancos, but there have been significant changes in both rosters since then.

The Spanish giants bid adieu to two of their defensive stalwarts, Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane. Meanwhile, the Nerazzurri lost Romelu Lukaku, Achraf Hakimi and manager Antonio Conte, three key pillars in their fairytale Scudetto triumph last season.

Yet both sides have made promising starts to the new season on the league front, and will now hope to do the same in Europe too. Ahead of the mouth-watering kick-off, here's a look at the five key players to watch out for in the Inter Milan-Real Madrid clash:


#5 Luka Modric (Real Madrid)

Luca Modric is going strong at 36.
Luca Modric is going strong at 36.

Usually players in their mid-30s are on a decline and gearing up for retirement. But Luka Modric isn't one of them just yet. He has been exceptional for Real Madrid even at 36, showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Widely considered among the best midfielders of all time, the ageless Croatian is a creative playmaker. Modric possesses impeccable vision and the ability to change matches with deft passes and long-range efforts.

His first touch, ball control, positioning and setting of tempo are all world-class. That makes him an exciting player to watch, but absolutely devastating to go up against for rival teams.


#4 Nicolo Barella (Inter Milan)

Nicolo Barella assisted 10 times in Serie A last season
Nicolo Barella assisted 10 times in Serie A last season

Nicolo Barella was a revelation in Inter Milan's title victory last season. He grabbed eye balls with his attacking flair, poise and ability to create goalscoring opportunities.

He also played a key role in Italy's Euro 2020 triumph, and has now kickstarted the new club season in bright fashion. Barella has registered an assist in each of the opening three league games for Inter.

He is an incredibly versatile player who combines good strength, technique and skill. The 24-year-old is adept in recovering the ball and subsequently starting quick attacking plays. He is also a proficient set-piece taker.

Inter Milan will depend a lot on him to unlock Real Madrid's defence with deft passes and delicious crosses. If he is not paid enough attention, Barella could wreak havoc.

#3 Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)

The Brazilian is finally coming of age for Real Madrid.
The Brazilian is finally coming of age for Real Madrid.

Since joining Real Madrid in 2018, Vinicius Junior has been widely seen as one of the best young players in world football. Blessed with electric speed, balance and prolific dribbling skills, the Brazilian winger has garnered a lot of attention for his promising displays.

However, he lacked a cutting edge in the final third, missing some absolute sitters. But he has visibly improved on that front this season. Vinicius has looked sharp and lethal up front, netting four league goals in as many games, his best return in a La Liga campaign thus far.

He'll be needed to produce more of the same on a big European night against Inter Milan, Los Blancos will be looking to break forward whenever an opportunity shows up, and there's no one better at sparking a counter than Vinicius.


#2 Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan)

Lautaro Martinez has put his injury woes behind him to start the season on a bright note.
Lautaro Martinez has put his injury woes behind him to start the season on a bright note.

Lautaro Martinez has quietly become a Serie A sensation. Having got his Inter Milan career off to a mediocre start, he burst into life in the 2019-20 season, and hasn't looked back since then.

Forging a fearsome attacking partnership with Romelu Lukaku, the Argentine sniper tore defences apart with ruthless efficiency, scoring 40 goals in his last two campaigns.

He shook off muscular problems at the start of the season to return to action with a bang. Martinez scored once in each of his two league appearances. That's the form he'll look to replicate on the European stage on Wednesday too.


#1 Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

Karim Benzema has five goals and four assists in the new season already.
Karim Benzema has five goals and four assists in the new season already.

In the post-Cristiano Ronaldo era, very few players at Real Madrid have delivered as consistently as Karim Benzema. The Frenchman has inherited the goalscoring mantle from the Portuguese talisman, and has excelled since then.

With 87 goals in all competitions in the last three seasons, the Frenchman has got his 2021-22 campaign off in similarly prolific fashion. Benzema has netted five times in four league games so far, including an amazing hat-trick in his last outing.

A quintessential big-game player, Benzema has a knack for stepping up in crucial moments with key goals and assists. His record in the Champions League stands at 71, level with former teammate and Los Blancos legend Raul.

The Nerazzurri will have their hands full against Madrid, as Karim Benzema is in a rich vein of form. Having scored against them at home last year, Benzema will be fancying his chances of doing so once again.

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Edited by Bhargav
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