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Milano clubs have it all to do

Last week’s action brought about the midpoint of this season’s European group stages.

The Italian city of Milan houses two clubs of incredible prestige and rich history, boasting a combined 13 European cups. AC and Inter have also won 19 league titles apiece, however on a continental scale the glory years are in the past as far as Milano is concerned.

AC Milan won two UCL titles in the first eight years of this century, but the Rossoneri have not reached the pinnacle of European football for a decade-and-a-half. Their city rivals Inter won a first Champions League crown in 2010, 12 years after they had last claimed European silverware with the UEFA Cup.

Present day both clubs are bidding to progress to the UCL knockouts but each suffered a setback in the first half of the six-game group phase. Last week the red half of Milano was swept aside by Chelsea, meanwhile Inter recorded a rare victory over Barcelona.

Inter lost at home to Bayern before recording its first points of the European season at Viktoria Plzen. Milan beat Dinamo Zagreb and drew with RB Salzburg prior to the defeat at Chelsea.

– AC Milan vs Chelsea

Last week these teams met for the first time in 23 years. Chelsea thumped Milan by three goals to nil, giving the Blues a first victory this European campaign. Chelsea were 3 points adrift the Group E leaders at kick-off last week and now Graham Potter’s men could end Tuesday evening three clear of the Rossoneri.

Chelsea lost their opener at Zegreb, which proved the last straw for Thomas Tuchel, before they drew with Salzburg in Potter’s first outing as Blues boss. Now, five weeks into a new regime, the two-time UCL winners look to salvage maximum points from their remaining three group games.

Ex-Milan defender Thiago Silva has been a mainstay in Chelsea’s backline for the past two years and the 38-year-old Brazilian is in line to face his former team once more. Fikayo Tomori and Olivier Giroud swapped London for Milan last year and both players started last week at their old stomping ground. Tiemoue Bakayoko is at Milan on loan from Chelsea and the French midfielder could yet feature against his parent club.

Last week Milan sorely missed primary goalkeeper Mike Maignan and the Frenchman remains out of contention for the reverse leg. Charles De Ketelaere, Alexis Saelemaekers, and Alessandro Florenzi are also expected to be unavailable.
Chelsea’s two injury concerns are the French pair of N’Golo Kante and Wesley Fofana, out with respective hamstring and knee problems.

AC Milan win: 3.40
Draw: 3.20

Chelsea win: 2.25

Barcelona vs Inter Milan

Barcelona was knocked down in the first round and they ought to strike back in the second. Inter held on for a slender 1-0 win last week but Xavi’s men are eager to welcome Simone Inzaghi’s side to Camp Nou. La Blaugrana need a positive result to draw level with Inter and remain in firm contention for the knockouts.

Hakan Calhanoglu found the net on the stroke of half-time which was enough to give Inter the points at San Siro. Wednesday’s match is sure to be another crunch clash with the Catalans trailing their Italian counterparts by 3 points in Group C. The two teams are sharing a Champions League group for a third time in five years.

Unlike Chelsea and Milan who both expect to advance from their group, only one of Inter and Barca are likely to qualify for the last 16. Bayern are cruising with maximum points in Group C, and a win at Plzen on Wednesday would take the Bavarians to the verge of qualifying for the knockouts for a 15th consecutive season.

Barca have a substantial injury crisis with right-sided defenders Ronald Araújo, Jules Koundé, Hector Bellerin, and Andreas Christensen all ruled out of the visit of Inter. Franck Kessie and Memphis Depay are also expected to miss the showdown at Camp Nou.
Last week Inter had to contend without striker Romelu Lukaku and midfielder Marcelo Brozovic. Both players remain sidelined for the return fixture in Catalonia, with Joaquin Correa also doubtful for the visitors.

Barcelona win: 1.40
Draw: 5.00

Inter Milan win: 7.25

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