Eto’o vs. Messi, Mourinho vs. Guardiola, Moratti vs. Laporta, Italy vs. Spain and Nerazzuri vs. Blaugrana. Tonight at the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium in Milan, the UEFA Champions League semi-final between Inter, the italian champions and Barcelona, the spanish champions, is going to take place.
Two very different teams, with two different managers. Inter with Jose Mourinho, a great experienced tactician with a powerful personality, always planning every aspect of the game, never leaving anything to chance. He’s style of play isn’t always pleasant to look at, but his teams have always been efficient and hard-working. He has already been at this stage of the competition twice, once with Porto and once with Chelsea.
On the other hand, we have Josep Guardiola, Barcelona’s manager. He loves attacking football and he has made Barcelona a spectacular goal scoring and passing machine, always playing beautiful football, he has won the competition in his first year at Barcelona.
Both teams share something in common: teamwork. Both teams have world-class players, but what really drives them forward is unity. Inter uses it to annihilate her opponents, whilst Barcelona to tire them playing by an incredible passing game.
The key Inter players are Maicon, a powerful tireless brazilian right back, Wesley Sneijder, the very technical dutch playmaker, a true number 10 and Samuel Eto’o the fast cameroonian goalscorer. But like I said, Inter’s main advantage is teamwork and discipline, which is going to be tough for Barcelona to crack.
2009 Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi is the main man at Barcelona scoring 40 goals in all competitions this year (8 in the Champions League). Xavi is a pass master, he’s the “brain” of the team dictating tempo and coordinating the team’s game. Also Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the former Inter and swedish striker is back from an injury and will be available for tonight’s game. Even though, Barcelona is primarily an offensive team, it’s captain is the 32-year-old defender, Carles Puyol, a legend at the club, playing only for Barcelona.
Barcelona is missing Andres Iniesta, the midfielder is out injured, whilst Inter is without young italian defender Davide Santon.
The probable line-ups are:
Inter (4-2-3-1): Julio Cesar, Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Chivu; Zanetti, Cambiasso; Pandev, Sneijder, Eto’o; Milito
Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Maxwell; Toure, Xavi, Busquets; Messi, Ibrahimovic, Pedro
Barcelona are the favourites to win the competition. They are reigning champions, but I wouldn’t rule out Inter. I think both legs will be very close encounters. Both teams also met in the group stage of the competition, Barcelona winning 2-0 at home and Inter snatching a goalless draw at Giuseppe Meazza. I’m going with Mourinho on this one and in my opinion, Barcelona will not score more than once tonight and I think that Inter is going to win. I’m going with 1-0 or 2-1 at most in favor of the italians.