The Champions League resumes this week, with the last 16 making the competition make or break for its remaining participants.
The San Siro is the hosting stadium, with Serie A giants Inter Milan hosting the six times champions, Liverpool. Simone Inzaghi took over the Inter reigns this past summer, after an ultra successful period under Antonio Conte. With Romelu Lukaku, Achraf Hakimi and Christian Eriksen no longer with the club, it is now a team in mild transition.
After the summer departures, Inter made key recruits to fill void left by important players. Edin Džeko and Denzel Dumfries were the key signings, and will be important players over the two ties. The forward line will see Edin Džeko and Lautaro Martínez tasked with penetrating the reds backline in a common 3-5-2 formation. The wing back options of Dumfries and Ivan Perišić will offer good width, in what will probably be a counter attacking system.
Nicolò Barella is the engine that will miss both legs, due a previous round suspension. The veteran, Arturo Vidal, will probably come in for the Italian midfielder, and look to add experience against a vibrant Liverpool group. At the back, Federico Dimarco will continue to deputise for Alessandro Bastoni, unless he recovers from injury. The rest of the team should replicate that which drew away to Napoli over the weekend, as their strongest possible line up.
Liverpool travel to Italy in good form, and question marks linger over who will start this match. With two games undertaken in the last week, Joël Matip could come out of the backline for Ibrahima Konaté. Konate may be the preferred choice, with Matip often struggling to deal with strong target men. The midfield will see Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara joined by one other, with Naby Keïta, Jordan Henderson and Harvey Elliott all vying for a starting berth. Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlian are also in the mix, though will likely start from the reds bench. The fullbacks and Virgil will remain, with a strong defensive performance needed.
Up top, Jürgen Klopp has plenty of options, with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino and new signing, Luis Díaz, all available to fill the three attacking positions. The vibrant attack will be looking to penetrate a somewhat slower Inter defence, in what could be a game of high reds possession.
With four competitions still on the Liverpool books, rotation will become more and more evident over the coming months. The likelihood is that Klopp will go full strength at the San Siro, with Norwich set to visit Anfield on Saturday afternoon. Both Liverpool and Inter sit second in their respective leagues, and both will want to carry that form into this European competition.
The dynamic of this match is intriguing, with Liverpools explosive nature likely to see Inter remain controlled. Liverpool generally struggle most against low blocks, and this style of play will probably be incorporated by Inter. The nature of the match will not descend into an end to end battle, though moments of open space will surely fall to each side, in a tense battle of two European giants.
Player to watch – Thiago Alcantara
Inter 0 – 1 Liverpool