Uefa Champions League 2018-19, Barcelona vs Inter Milan: Three players Barcelona should be worried about
Eight years on from their legendary semi-final clash in the 2009/2010 season, Barcelona and Inter Milan once again lock horns in a clash which although not as monumental still has immense benefits for the winner.
On that evening in April 2010, Barcelona came into the tie as defending champions and overwhelming favourites, as the Blaugrana under Guardiola then were considered to be the best club team in history.
A tactical masterclass by Mourinho in the first leg helped the Nerrazurri to a 3-1 victory, and what followed in the second was arguably the best defensive performance in the history of the Champions League. Inter Milan despite being a man down for most of the match, remained solid at the back and survived wave after wave of Barcelona attacks to qualify for the final where they completed a treble.
Both sides are markedly different now, and no member of that triumphant Inter Milan team remains, while Barcelona themselves have evolved, although some members of that all-conquering side such as Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets still linger.
Both clubs began this UCL campaign with two victories in their opening two matches, and would seek to consolidate top spot in this fixture.
Barcelona's chances of victory were dealt a severe blow with the announcement that talisman and captain Lionel Messi would miss the fixture having been ruled out for three weeks after suffering a dislocation in his shoulder in the victory over Sevilla at the weekend.
In his absence though, the Spanish champions have enough players to cope without him but would be wary of visiting an Inter Milan side who are in emphatic form.
The Italian giants are on an impressive winning streak of seven matches in all competitions, and come into the match off a morale-boosting victory over city rivals AC Milan in the Derby della Maddoninna, hence would fancy their chances of pulling an upset against Barcelona.
Under Spalletti, Inter has been forged into a compact and effective unit, and with the quality of players at their disposal, they would fancy their chances of defeating their hosts. Here are three players who would be key to their chances of winning.
#3 Ivan Perisic:
He was highly impressive in the Croatia side that made it all the way to the final of the World Cup, leading to many speculations linking him with many of the biggest clubs around Europe.
As it happened, those rumours amounted to nothing, and Inter fans would be delighted to have his services for at least another season.
The 29-year-old has proved himself an invaluable member of the Inter team, with his performances on the left wing of the Nerrazurri attack proving to be a nuisance for opposing teams.
After initial fears that he could be out of the clash due to injury, it was later revealed that he had been cleared by the medics, and was subsequently included in the squad to face the Blaugrana.
He would come up against either Sergi Roberto or Nelson Semedo who are not exactly renowned for their defensive solidity, hence Ernesto Valverde would do well to find a way to nullify the attacking threat posed by Perisic.