UEFA Champions League 2018-19, Inter Milan 1-1 Barcelona: 5 Talking Points
Barcelona qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League despite being held to a 1-1 draw by Inter Milan at the San Siro.
Barcelona largely dominated proceedings got what seemed like the winner in the 83rd minute when substitute and summer signing Malcom cut inside and hit an effort too powerful for Samir Handanovic.
However, Mauro Icardi, who was feeding off scraps all night, was able to settle himself in the box before slipping an effort through the legs of Marc-Andre ter Stegen to level the score in the 87th minute.
Here are five talking points from Tuesday’s match:
#1 Coutinho becomes the creator in Messi’s absence
It looked set to be the night of Lionel Messi’s return to the Barcelona lineup after missing the reverse fixture at home to Inter and LaLiga matches against Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano, but it proved to be one match too soon for the Argentinian.
Therefore without their maestro who roams in attack, the pressure was heaped on the shoulders of the likes of Arthur, Ivan Rakitic, Phillipe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele to replace Messi’s magical passing and creativity.
The man who stepped up tonight was the Brazilian, Coutinho. At Liverpool, his position was a lot more central and often saw him perform better than he has done so far at Barca.
In Tuesday’s match, for the first time since joining Barcelona, he drifted a lot more inside rather than sticking to his position out on the left.
This allowed him to both create for his team-mates, and create scoring opportunities for himself. He was finding lots of pockets of space in between Inter’s lines of defence and attack, leaving their back four constantly frustrated when trying to stop him.
Finally in the 83rd minute, after lots of missed chances by Luis Suarez that the Brazilian created, he was to earn himself an assist when Malcom slotted the ball home.
Making a swift turn on the half-way line, Coutinho opened up the space for Barcelona on the counter-attack. He advanced with the ball a bit further, before playing the ball wide to Malcom, who eventually got the opening goal of the game.
On a night where Lionel Messi was missing, Coutinho stepped up and showed his worth and created a number of glorious opportunities for both himself and his team-mates.