Just as all the excitement from a last-minute Inter winner in the Milan derby on Sunday night has started to die down, thoughts turn to two thrilling Champions League ties involving Serie A sides this midweek.
Cristiano Ronaldo will return to Old Trafford as unbeaten Juventus take on a struggling Manchester United side on Tuesday evening, while Inter head to Camp Nou to face a Lionel Messi-less Barcelona.
A disappointing draw at home to Genoa revealed a lack of concentration in Juve’s defence on Saturday, that result the only dropped points from an otherwise 100% winning record in all competitions. “It’s very simple, we left the game,” Coach Max Allegri admitted to Sky Italia after the match. “Genoa did well to stay in there and instead of scoring for 2-0, we conceded for 1-0. This shouldn’t happen, because the Scudetto is won and lost in games like this. In the second half, our minds were on Manchester United and we fell asleep.”
Yet despite regrets over what should have been as Juve needed to bury their chances and put the game to bed at two or three nil-up by half-time, Genoa’s equaliser most probably served as a much-needed wake-up call for the supremely dominant Bianconeri.w
Following the signing of Ronaldo this summer, the Old Lady went on a rampage of ten consecutive wins in all competitions, a record ended by the Grifone on Saturday evening. That feeling of invincibility could have been dangerous heading into a difficult Champions League tie at Old Trafford, much better instead to have got their blip out of the way in a league fixture that should have little long-term effect on the title race.
Meanwhile, Inter and Barca will face off in Group B as the only sides to have won both of their opening two matches, but each will be missing their key man. Lionel Messi fractured the radial bone in his right arm during their 4-2 win over Sevilla, while Nerazzurri attacker Radja Nainggolan limped off early during the derby versus Milan. The pair are expected to miss out on Wednesday evening, but the Italian side will surely still be relishing this huge clash.
The last time these two sides faced off was the Champions League semi-final of 2010, when Pep Guardiola’s Barca lost 3-1 at San Siro to an Inter team headed up by Jose Mourinho, a subsequent 1-0 win at home not enough to see them advance to the final. Of course, Inter would win the trophy that year, but this season marks their first entry into the competition since the 2011/12 campaign.
| WINNER! |
Milan is blue and black! 🔵⚫
— Eleven Sports (@ElevenSports_UK) October 21, 2018
The Italians have not beaten Barcelona away from home in any of their last six meetings, but the La Liga outfit will need to be careful in the closing stages of the match. With another stoppage-time strike on Sunday evening, Inter kept up their rate of having fired in an incredible 0.8 times on average in the final 15 minutes this season, and Mauro Icardi is certainly in the mood for writing the headlines.