Borussia Dortmund will look to move one step closer to securing a place in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League when they face Inter Milan this week.
Borussia Dortmund will have an excellent opportunity to thwart Inter Milan out of contention as the two teams meet at San Siro on Wednesday. The Black and Yellows are leading so-called ‘Group of death’ with four points in two matches. They are one of only five clubs in competition that are yet to concede a single goal, along with Napoli, Manchester City, Ajax, Paris Saint-Germain.
However, the Bundesliga giants haven’t exactly performed well defensively, despite keeping a clean sheet in the narrow win over table-toppers Borussia Monchengladbach on the weekend. Their unpredictable defence could once again be tested against the Inter side that has been revitalised following the arrival of Antonio Conte.
The Nerazzuri have already enjoyed an incredible start to their league campaign, mustering 21 points from seven matches. They are trailing league leaders Juventus by just one point. They are also coming on the back of a thrilling 4-3 win over Sassouolo on the weekend.
That being said, Inter were notably held by Slavia Praha in the Champions League while they also lost to Barcelona in the last game. That means securing all three points in this fixture could be imperative if they are to have any hopes of qualifying to the next round.
And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of this exciting encounter on Wednesday.
Team News & Tactics
Conte could make a few key changes to the side that secured a narrow win over Sassouolo. Key midfielder Stefano Sensi is a doubt going into this fixture. But, we expect him to recover in time and return to the starting lineup, at the expense of Roberto Gagliardini. He will be partnered by Nicolo Barella and the ever-present figure of Marcelo Brozovic.
Antonio Candreva was also subbed off against Sassoulo. The veteran will retain his role at right wing-back, with Kwadwo Asamoah replacing Cristiano Biraghi on the opposite flank. These two players will play a key role dealing with Dortmund’s counter-attacks.
Diego Godin is likely to return to the three-man defence, having been rested in the last game. The Uruguayan’s experience will be invaluable, alongside the likes of Milan Skriniar and Stefan de Vrij. They will likely operate in a deep defensive block, with the wingbacks playing a more versatile role.
And finally, the Inter Milan attack will be led by Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez. Both these forwards bagged a brace each in the win over Sassouolo. Lukaku, in fact, has already netted five goals for his new club since joining from Manchester United in the summer and will be a key presence in this game. Alexis Sanchez, meanwhile, will continue to spend time on the sidelines while Daniel D’Ambrosio is a doubt.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Handanovic; Godin, de Vrij, Skriniar; Candreva, Barella, Brozovic, Sensi, Asamoah; Lukaku, Martinez
Mario Gotze and Jadon Sancho are back in contention after missing the last game against Borussia Monchengladbach. Sancho, in particular, was suspended by the club due to his late return to training. He is a guaranteed starter in this one, however, replacing Achraf Hakimi.
The Moroccan, in turn, will shift into his preferred right-back role, ahead of Lukasz Piszczek, who will continue to spend time on the bench. Nico Schulz returned to full fitness on the weekend and is expected to get the nod over Raphael Guerreiro on the opposite flank.
The central defensive pairing will comprise of Mats Hummels and Manuel Akanji. The latter will replace Julian Weigl after initially featuring as a right-back on Saturday. These two have performed extremely well in the Champions League so far.
Favre is not someone who likes to shuffle his squad a lot. That means the duo of Thomas Delaney and Axel Witsel will continue to form the double-pivot in Dortmund’s 4-2-3-1.
Guerreiro, though unlikely to start left-back, could occupy the left-wing role, replacing Thorgan Hazard. The Portuguese international will look to provide service to lone striker Mario Gotze while Julian Brandt will be filling in for Marco Reus in the number ten slot. The Dortmund captain will miss out with a flu.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Burki; Hakimi, Akanji, Hummels, Schulz; Witsel, Delaney; Sancho, Brandt, Guerreiro; Gotze
- Inter and Dortmund last met in the quarter-final of the 1993-94 UEFA Cup, with the Italians winning 4-3 on aggregate. They won the trophy that year.
- Inter are winless in six UEFA European matches against German opposition since a 3-2 win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League in March 2011.
- Borussia Dortmund have only conceded two goals in their last eight Champions League group stage matches, keeping clean sheets in seven of those matches.
- Inter’s Nicolo Barella could become the fourth player to score in each of his first two European Cup/Champions League home matches for the Nerazzuri, after Roberto Boninsegna (1971), Alessandro Altobelli (1980) and Mauro Icardi (2018).
- Borussia Dortmund have won three of their five away UEFA Champions League matches (W3 D0 L2) under Lucien Favre, one more in their previous 10 under Jürgen Klopp, Thomas Tuchel and Peter Bosz combined (W2 D2 L6).
Player to Watch
A lot of limelight heading into this game will obviously focus on Sancho after he got suspended by the club on the weekend. He was also fined a considerable amount of money. But, as far as the game itself is concerned, it would appear as an opportunity for the young Englishman to redeem himself.
It was a surprise not to see him make the shortlist for Ballon d’Or given his Portuguese counterpart Joao Felix did. Nonetheless, his presence on the right flank could cause terror for an Inter Milan defence that has conceded a lot of goals, of late.
Inter Milan 1-2 Borussia Dortmund
Given Inter’s form in Seria A, it won’t be a surprise to see Conte putting less effort in his side’s performances in the Champions League this campaign. They have accumulated just one point and it’s unlikely they will be able to trouble a Dortmund side that are yet to concede a single goal. We expect a 2-1 win for the visitors.