Inter Milan will welcome Bayern Munich to the Giuseppe Meazza in the first heavyweight game in the UEFA Champions League group C.

Group C is on paper this season’s group of death in the UEFA Champions League. With Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Barcelona all drawn together, Viktoria Plzen will don the role of the whipping boys.

With just two spots up for grabs to qualify for the last 16, games between the big three could prove to be six-pointers in the grand scheme of things. This makes Inter Milan vs Bayern Munich an interesting opening fixture with both sides keen to start strong.

Inter have been one of the best clubs in Italy in recent years but have been unable to make a mark in Europe. They got past the group stages last season but fell to Liverpool in the last 16. Bayern, meanwhile, made it to the quarter-finals before being stunned by an inspired Villarreal side. Both teams will aim to do better this time around.

Die Roten have a hundred per cent record against Inter while playing away and have won all three games at the Giuseppe Meazza. That record will be up to the test on Wednesday evening. Julian Nagelsmann has seen his side held to consecutive draws in the Bundesliga and will hope that Samir Handanovic does not channel his inner Lev Yashin on the night.

Inter, meanwhile, have shown chinks in their armour and will be starting from their Derby Della Madonnina loss at the weekend. Simone Inzaghi’s side have already lost two games in Serie A this season and look far from their best when put under pressure. Bayern are unlikely to let them off the hook and have the firepower to cause some serious damage.

It promises to be an interesting contest between two sides who are coming off frustrated after dropping points at the weekend. There is no better cure for that than to have a night to remember in the Champions League. At the Giuseppe Meazaa, we could be in for a thrilling contest.

The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might employ.

Inter Milan

The Nerazzurri will be without Romelu Lukaku, who is still nursing a thigh injury. Edin Dzeko impressed off the bench at the weekend and could get the nod ahead of Joaquin Correa to partner Lautaro Martinez upfront.

Alessandro Bastoni could also be dropped to the bench after a horror show against AC Milan. Federico Dimarco could take his spot in the back three with the defensively solid Mateo Darmian occupying the left wing-back role. Inzaghi has an otherwise fit squad to choose from and is unlikely to deviate from his 3-5-2- formation. Given Bayern’s attacking prowess, playing three at the back could prove to be a hill that Inzaghi is willing to die on.

Samir Handanovic will start in goal, but the ageing shot-stopper will struggle to provide the agility that Yan Sommer and Frederik Ronnow showed to deny Bayern in recent times. The Inter veteran has often been accused of being too inert and will need to be at the top of his game on the night.

He will be protected by a back three of Milan Skriniar, Stefan De Vrij and Federico Dimarco. The excellent Denzel Dumfries will occupy the right wing-back spot while Matteo Darmian will hold the other flank. Marcelo Brozovic is a sure starter in the midfield and will be entrusted with keeping Joshua Kimmich quiet. The Croatian has a big job on his hands and cannot afford to be given the runaround in the game.

Nicolo Barella and Hakan Calhanoglu will start alongside Brozovic and will be tasked with carving out attacking opportunities and also making runs upfield in the central areas. Lautaro Martinez is Inter’s biggest threat going forward and will play just behind Edin Dzeko in the attack. The Argentine could be forced to drop back and add to bodies in midfield should Bayern seize the initiative.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, de Vrij, Dimarco; Dumfries, Barella, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Darmian; Martinez, Dzeko

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Bayern Munich

Die Roten might have dropped points in their last two Bundesliga clashes, but it had more to do with the opposition goalkeepers having a worldie than them lacking anything. Nagelsmann’s side have been free-flowing in attack, and the summer signings have settled in well. They will once again look to start the game on the front foot and put Inter under pressure.

Bayern last won the competition in 2019-20 and will be considered among the favourites this season. They are comfortably the better team on paper and will arrive at the Giuseppe Meazza as favourites. As long as they have their shooting boots on, all three points will likely be in the bag.

Nagelsmann is likely to put his side out in a 4-2-3-1 formation that plays to their strengths. Manuel Neuer is a sure starter in goal and will play behind a back four of Benjamin Pavard, Lucas Hernandez, Matthijs de Ligt, and Alphonso Davies.

Joshua Kimmich and Marcel Sabitzer have formed an excellent partnership in recent seasons and will once again reprise their role as the double pivot. This will act as a springboard for the trio of Jamal Musiala, Thomas Muller and Kingsley Coman to rush forward and wreak havoc.

Sadio Mane will lead the line in what will be his debut in the competition for Bayern. The Senegalese international was part of the Liverpool side that got the better of Inter last season and will hope for more of the same on Wednesday.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2):  Neuer; Pavard, Hernandez, De Ligt, Davies; Kimmich, Sabitzer; Coman, Muller, Musiala; Mane.

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Key Stats

  • Inter Milan and Bayern Munich have faced off against each other seven times, with each side winning three apiece. The only group stage by either side came in 2006 when Bayern won 2-0 away at Inter.
  • All three of Bayern Munich’s wins in the fixture have come away from home. They have a 100% record against Inter while on the road.
  • Inter Milan have enjoyed some high-scoring games against German opposition in recent times, with the last 10 clashes contributing to 39 goals.
  • Inter Milan are the last side from Italy to beat Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League. The Germans suffered the loss in 2011 and have since gone 10 games unbeaten against Serie A opposition.
  • Inter Milan are the last Italian side to keep a clean sheet against Bayern. They achieved it in the 2009 UEFA Champions League final that they won 2-0.
  • Inter Milan have failed to open their UEFA Champions League campaign with a win in their last three attempts. They have kicked off with a victory only once in their last six campaigns.

Player to Watch

Joshua Kimmich

MUNICH, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 27: Joshua Kimmich of FC Bayern Muenchen runs with the ball during the Group E match of the UEFA Champions League between FC Bayern Muenchen and SL Benfica at Allianz Arena on November 27, 2018 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

The MVP for the night? (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

The German international is a sure starter in the Bayern Munich first XI and is one of their in-form players at the moment. Kimmich not only controls the tempo in the middle of the park, but is also a goalscoring threat going forwards. He is likely to set the marker in midfield and could control the game unless Marcelo Brozovic rises to the challenge.

An all-action player, the 27-year-old will be the key to stopping Bayern. As long as he and Sabitzer have an off day, the Die Roten backline could also be open for exploitation, especially if Dayot Upamecano starts. Kimmich is easily the best midfielder on both squads, and his performance on the day could eventually decide the tie.

Prediction

Inter Milan 0-2 Bayern Munich

Inter Milan’s poor form coupled with Bayern Munich’s relentless attack makes this a foregone conclusion on paper. Inzaghi’s 3-5-2 has worked a charm in the past, but teams have now begun to figure it out. The Inter boss’s unwillingness or inability to come up with an alternative means Bayern go into the game knowing full well what to expect.

The Germans have created several opportunities in every game and have only lacked the finishing touch of late. Should Mane turn up on the night, it should prove to be a comfortable win for the Bavarians.

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