By the time Real Madrid and Inter Milan crossed paths for the first time in the erstwhile European Cup final back in 1964, they were already established as powerhouses of world football. The turn of the 1960s saw Real Madrid garner worldwide attention for their attacking style of play, with the Ferenc Puskas-Alfredo di Stefano pair running riots in almost every game.
In Italy, Inter Milan lost their sheen in the 1950s with rivals AC Milan and Juventus racking up the major titles, but the appointment of Helenio Herrera turned things around for the Nerazzurri. They were not as attacking as Real Madrid, but more tactically sound and solid at the back.
The Italian outfit emerged victoriously in that specific 1964 clash, and since then, these two teams have met a total of eleven times in the UEFA Champions League, with the twelfth fixture being just around the corner. The title will not be at stake when Real Madrid and Inter Milan will clash at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday, 7th December, but the pole position of Group D will be on the line.
Having won four and lost one of their first five fixtures, the Spanish giants are placed at the top with 12 points, but breathing right down their necks are the reigning Italian champions, who have accumulated 10 points.
Both teams might have already confirmed their participation in the Round of 16, but a first-place finish is likely to get them a comparatively easier opponent in the next phase, as they will be drawn against a second-placed team. Carlo Ancelotti’s Los Blancos need nothing more than a draw, while Simone Inzaghi’s Nerazzurri will have to go all out for a win.
Let us have an in-depth look at what to expect from the game:
REAL MADRID IN UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SO FAR THIS SEASON
The second Carlo Ancelotti era has been a successful one so far for the team from the Spanish capital, as they have been impressive in both the Champions League and the La Liga. In this competition, they started with a 1-0 win over Inter Milan.
The second game, however, sent shockwaves across the entire continent, as Moldovan team Sheriff Tiraspol handed them a shock 2-1 defeat. Los Blancos have since made a stunning comeback, winning all of their last three games.
They registered two consecutive victories against Shakhtar Donetsk in their third and fourth fixture, scoring seven goals in the process and conceding only one. In their last game against Sheriff Tiraspol, Ancelotti’s team emerged as 3-0 winners.
PREDICTED LINEUP AND TACTICS AGAINST INTER MILAN
Carlo Ancelotti will have almost all of his players fit and available for this clash, except perhaps his most important player, Karim Benzema. The French goal-machine, who has found the back of the net 17 times already in this season after featuring in 20 games, is out with a hamstring injury and will spend the next few weeks at the treatment room.
The three-time Champions League manager is expected to stick to his 4-3-3 setup, with Serbian striker Luka Jovic replacing Benzema as Real Madrid’s focal point in attack, supported by Marco Asensio and Vinicius Junior on either flank.
The backline is likely to be comprised of Lucas Vasquez, Eder Militao, David Alaba and Ferland Mendy, while the onus of controlling the tempo at the centre of the park is expected to be on the shoulders of vastly experienced campaigner Toni Kroos and his two young yet equally gifted partners-in-crime, Eduardo Camavinga and Federico Valverde.
Probable Playing XI (4-3-3): Thibaut Courtois; Lucas Vazquez, Eder Militao, David Alaba, Ferland Mendy; Federico Valverde, Eduardo Camavinga, Toni Kroos; Vinicius Junior, Luka Jovic, Marco Asensio.
INTER MILAN IN UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SO FAR THIS SEASON
Inter Milan’s story so far in this competition has been a tale of two halves. Simone Inzaghi’s team had a poor start, losing their first game against Real Madrid and then managing only a 0-0 stalemate against Shakhtar Donetsk in their second fixture.
They have since won their last three games, and that too, without breaking much sweat. In their third and fourth fixture, the Nerazzurri registered back-to-back 3-1 wins against Sheriff Tiraspol, while in their previous fixture against Shakhtar Donetsk, an Edin Dzeko brace handed them all three points.
PREDICTED LINEUPS AND TACTICS AGAINST REAL MADRID
Inzaghi will have a hard time selecting a backline strong enough to keep the likes of Vinicius and Marco Asensio at bay, as four of his defenders are out with injuries. Italian duo Andrea Ranocchia and Matteo Darmian are down with a muscle and a groin problem respectively, while Aleksandr Kolarov and Stefan de Vrij will also miss this trip.
Barring them, Argentine attacker Joaquin Correa is also unavailable with a hamstring injury, while Christian Eriksen continues spending his days away from the pitch owing to his heart-related complications.
Inzaghi’s 3-5-2 formation could work as a mitigation measure given the circumstances. Danilo D’Ambrosio, Milan Skriniar and Alessandro Bastoni are likely to form the backline, with Denzel Dumfries and Ivan Perisic providing width to their gameplay.
The three-man midfield is likely to be comprised of Nicolo Barella, Stefano Sensi and Arturo Vidal, while the in-form strike pair of Lautaro Martinez and Edin Dzeko will be deployed with the task of silencing the Bernabeu crowd.
Probable Playing XI (3-5-2): Samir Handanovic; Danilo D’Ambrosio, Milan Skriniar, Alessandro Bastoni; Denzel Dumfries, Nicolo Barella, Stefano Sensi, Arturo Vidal, Ivan Perisic; Edin Dzeko, Lautaro Martinez.
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