There is a big Serie A showdown going to happen on Boxing Day in the evening. It is a clash between two of the top three. Napoli start in second place, well adrift of leaders Juventus and eight points clear of third-placed Inter. Can Milan find a way to close the gap? Read our Inter v Napoli betting tips for more.
* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on December 23rd, 2018 at 10:54 p.m.)
There was nothing to split these two last season as Inter and Napoli played out two 0-0 draws in Serie A. It was all that tight. In none of the last six meetings have both teams scored in a fixture between these two. Inter are winless in their last four against Napoli and so they will be looking to turn the tables a bit.
If you look at the top of the table (at the top three specifically), there are some ridiculous margins going on. Juventus are top of the pile, eight points clear of second-placed Napoli. Napoli, in turn, are eight points clear of third-placed Inter. At this stage of the season that’s some crazy gaps between the leading three teams.
Napoli are in great form at the moment on the domestic front as they have gone unbeaten in their last ten Serie A fixtures. They have hit the back of the net in each of their last six away games and Napoli are unbeaten in four away from home. Home and away they are W8 D2 in their last ten. It’s strong, but still not strong enough to contend with Juve.
Inter’s form isn’t there at the moment quite. Not overall home and away. They have a mixed run of W2 D2 L2 in their last six league fixtures. Over the weekend they could only pick up a 1-1 draw at Chievo who are rooted to the foot of the table. Inter have to have been disappointed with that. But at the San Siro they have been strong.
They are on a six-match winning streak on home soil in the Italian top flight. Last season Inter managed to find a way to contain the free-scoring Napoli last season, if not find a way to beat them. Will it be more of the same between them? Or will someone come up with a winner?
Inter have done superbly at home this season but they have just struggled in recent games against tougher opponents. Napoli are the stronger of the two sides overall and they can land a big three away points. The away win at 13/8 is a good proposition* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on December 23rd, 2018 at 10:54 p.m.)
25th December 2018 / lee - Category: European Football Betting
The drama in Group B is going down to the wire. Inter have a comfortable game against PSV at home to round off. PSV are finishing fourth in the group no matter what. Inter can take second place ahead of Spurs as long as they pick up more points than the Lilywhites manage to get at the Nou Camp against Barcelona. Read our Inter v PSV betting tips for more.
* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on December 11th, 2018 at 1:51 p.m.)
The only way that Inter get through to the next round of the competition is by picking up more points than Spurs do on Tuesday night. Spurs are at Barcelona just to put things into context. Regardless of what happens, they are guaranteed at least third place. Their home games in the group have seen Inter beat Spurs and hold out for a draw against Barcelona. So that’s been hugely positive. They were on a three-match winning streak at home in Europe before they took that draw against Barcelona. The Nerazzurri are the last Italian team to win the Champions League (2010). In each of their last eight Champions League campaigns, they have gotten past the group stage.
This is their first appearance though since the 2011/12 season in the group stage of the Champions League. They have great form against Dutch opposition having gone undefeated in their last ten (W7 D3). They have won each of their last four home games against Dutch opposition. Their most recent home fixture against a side from the Netherlands ended in a 1-0 win for Inter over Twente in the 2010/11 Champions League group stage. Inter have won only one of their last six in all competitions (D2 L3) in their current form. Mauro Icardi has scored 11 goals in 14 games in all competitions
Inter and PSV met in the 2007/08 UCL group stage
Inter won both meetings
PSV lost 2-0 at the San Siro on that group stage visit
This game has no consequence for PSV who will finish bottom of the group regardless so don’t even have Europa League action to fall back on. They have lost four of their five group stage games so far (D1). The draw in that sequence was a thrilling 2-2 one at home against Tottenham. They are the reigning Dutch champions and they went up against Belarusian champions BATE in the play-off stage to make it through to what is their 16th group stage campaign of the Champions League. Their first-leg win at BATE is their only away win in their last 13 Europa fixtures (D4 L8)
In this group stage campaign away from home they lost 4-0 at Barcelona and 2-1 at Tottenham and have been short of quality. The last time they were in the group stage (2016/17) they failed to win a game (D2 L4). They are now winless in their last 13 Champions League fixtures (D5 L8) not including qualifying. Their last European away win was in 2007 at CSKA Moscow. They suffered a 3-0 defeat at the San Siro against AC Milan in their last trip to Italy. That snapped a three-match undefeated streak of games in Italy for them (W2 D1). Luuk de Jong has 15 goals in his last 16 games for PSV
PSV have come up short in the group and have no interest in this game. Inter have to be fully switched on and they should be good enough on home turf to see off their Dutch opponents. Inter to win to nil looks a solid proposition.
10th December 2018 / lee - Category: UEFA Champions League Betting
There is a top three clash in Serie A on Friday night as league leaders Juventus play host to third-placed Inter Milan. While this is a top three clash Inter are a massive eleven points behind the leaders and even at this stage look to have far much to do to catch up. Still, they will be looking to become the first side to beat the Old Lady in the league this term. Read our Juventus v Inter betting tips for more.
* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on December 5th, 2018 at 6:35 p.m.)
Juventus picked up a good 3-0 road win at Fiorentina last weekend. That was their fifth league win on the bounce. It extended their unbeaten form for the league season too out to W13 D1 which is pretty impressive. In Turin, they have a W6 D1 record, the only failure to win there was a 1-1 draw against Genoa in late October. On home soil in Serie A Juventus have averaged over two goals per game. They have only shipped the four home goals against them as well. Juventus have a clean sheet in 43% of home games this term.
Juventus have earned a clean sheet in each of their last three league outings home and away combined and at home, less than half of their games have gone over 2.5 goals. The Old Lady have hit the back of the net in all of their league matches this season, scoring at least two in each of their last five alone. They have also been leading at the halftime break in five of their seven home games. Cristiano Ronaldo is on a three-match scoring streak in the Italian top flight.
There was a 0-0 draw between them last season in this corresponding fixture
Juventus are unable in six home games against Inter in all competitions
Both teams have scored in just two of the last eight in all competitions
In the last six league meetings, Juve are W3 D2 L1 against Inter
Just two of the last six league clashes have gone over 2.5 goals
Inter failed to earn maximum points last weekend as they were held to a 2-2 draw at Roma. They have gone W9 D2 L3 in Serie A this season which has been a great return from them. Away from the San Siro their record is W4 D1 L2 but are winless at D1 L1 in their last two. That was after winning four away games on the bounce. Inter have conceded six goals in their last road games and that was after only conceding two in their previous five. Out on their travels, Inter have come up with 12 goals in their 7 games and 71% of their away games have gone over 2.5 goals.
Inter have scored 67% of their away goals in the second half of games and they have shipped 75% of away goals after the halftime break. Their scoring form has been consistent this season as they have gotten on the scoreboard in each of their last ten league games (home and away combined). They are on a six-match scoring streak away from home in the league too. Each to their last five games home and away have made it over 2.5 goals. The only side to have conceded fewer goals in the league than Inter this season is Juventus. Only two teams have scored more than they have.
Juventus to win to nil at 6/4
Under 2.5 goals at 10/11
* (betting odds taken from bet365 on December 4th, 2018 at 6:34 pm)
It is just so hard to oppose Juventus, even in top clashes like this. They are so immensely strong in the league on home soil, that even Inter are probably going to struggle. Juve knows how to handle themselves in top matches like this. Home win to nil.
5th December 2018 / lee - Category: European Football Betting
This could be the real highlight of the week as it is all on the line in this one. Nothing less than a win will do for Tottenham in this one because if they don’t get it out, they are out. As for Inter, they will know that heading to Wembley and just picking up a point will be good enough for them to reach the next stage of the competition. Read our Tottenham v Inter betting tips for more.
Inter Milan 19/5
* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on November 26th, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.)
There is only one way that Spurs can keep their Champions League season alive. That is win in this game at Wembley on Wednesday night. That is the only way their top-two ambitions hanging in there. Three points will see them pull level with Inter. After losing their opening two games of the group against Inter and then Barcelona, Spurs managed to net four points from their two games against PSV to keep the door open for themselves.
Tottenham have lost only one of their eight previous home games against Italian opposition in at W4 D3 L1 record. So they have that going for them. They played host to Juventus in last season’s round of sixteen and lost 2-1 at Wembley. That was the scoreline by which they lost at Inter on matchday one of this season’s campaign, shipping two goals in the last four minutes.
Both teams to score is at 4/6 odds* (betting odds taken from November 26th, 2018 at 10:33 pm).
Tottenham’s overall record against Italian sides is W5 D7 L6 and they are in good form at the moment with a five-match winning streak in all competitions. That was after an impressive victory over Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday evening. Spurs have though only taken five clean sheets in 19 games this season. In the correct score market at Tottenham 3-1 result is at 12/1 odds* (betting odds taken from November 26th, 2018 at 10:33 pm). They have netted exactly three goals in each of their two previous home games against Inter. Harry Kane has scored five goals in his last six appearances for Tottenham.
This will be the sixth match between the two of them
Each of the previous five have gone over 2.5 goal
All five previous meetings have produced a home win
Spurs have scored exactly three goals in their two previous home games against Inter
Both teams have scored in four of the five previous games
Inter do have the luxury of only needing to pick up a draw in this one. But they will know that Spurs are going to come hard at them in the early stages of this so their resolve will be tested. If they get at least a point they will join Barcelona in qualifying from this group. Inter are W2 D1 L1 in the group, having come from behind in both of their victories. They have qualified from their group in each of their last eight UEFA Champions League campaigns.
They were on a run of five straight away defeats in Europe before securing a 2-1 at PSV Eindhoven in this campaign, which was their first win in nine away games in Europe (D3 L5). The Nerazzurri have lost five of their last six trips to England (W1). Inter’s overall record in England is W4 D1 L10. This will be their first visit to England since a 2-1 defeat at Southampton in the group stage of the 2016 Europa League. Over 2.5 goals is at 4/6 for the Wembley clash* (betting odds taken from November 26th, 2018 at 10:33 pm) and they have form behind them as Inter have won ten of their last thirteen games in all competitions (D1 L2).
Given that Tottenham have home advantage and they have nothing to be conservative about, the home win does appeal. Tottenham can just throw the kitchen sink at this win or bust scenario and come out on top. Home win.
27th November 2018 / lee - Category: UEFA Champions League Betting
Barcelona only need a win in this one to secure a top-two place in Group B of the Champions League, which incidentally is Tottenham’s group as well. Barcelona took a 2-0 win over Inter on match day three and the Italians will be looking for revenge to give themselves a massive boost towards reaching the next round. Read our Inter v Barcelona betting tips for more.
* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on November 4th, 2018 at 2:39 p.m.)
The Italians will ensure that they get a top two finish if they can land a win in this one over Barcelona on Tuesday night and there is a draw in the other game between Spurs and PSV. Inter suffered a 2-0 loss at the Nou Camp against Barcelona on match day three to leave them with a W2 D1 record. In both of their group wins, Inter came from behind to beat their opponents. They scored two goals in the final four minutes of their game against Spurs (their only game at the San Siro so far) to produce a dramatic win, Mauro Icardi getting the first goal to pull them level. Mauro Icardi is at 7/4 odds in the anytime goalscorer market* (betting odds taken on November 4th 2018 at 10:47 am) and he has scored in both of their wins in the group so far.
Inter have won their last three European home games so have a bit of form at the San Siro and they have made it out of their group in each of their last eight campaigns. The last time that the Nerazzurri had met up with a Spanish side before their meeting with Barcelona this season was against Atletico Madrid back in 2010. Their last home game against a Spanish side saw Inter collect a 3-1 win over Barcelona. In the correct score market, a 1-1 draw is a shortest priced option at 6/1* (betting odds taken on November 4th 2018 at 10:47 am). Inter are unbeaten in their last eight home games against Spanish sides (W3 D5). Their only home defeat in 18 previous games at the San Siro against Spanish opposition was to Alaves in the 200/01 UEFA Cup (W9 D8).
There has only been six meetings between the two sides before this season
Each of those meetings were after 2003
Inter are W1 D2 in three previous home games against Barcelona
Barcelona have won all three of their home games against Inter
Barcelona are cruising their way to the next round having rattled off ten goals so far in producing three wins from three. That ten-goal haul leaves them as the current joint top-scorers in the campaign alongside PSG. Barcelona have won their group in each of their last 11 seasons and will probably get the job done again. They won’t have fond memories of Italy though as they suffered a 3-0 loss at Roma in the second leg of last season’s quarter finals to get knocked out. Both teams to score is at 8/13 odds* (betting odds taken on November 4th 2018 at 10:47 am)
Barcelona were on a ten-match unbeaten streak of form in the Champions League before the loss at Roma (W6 D4). Barcelona produced a W1 D2 record away from home, and they collected a clean sheet in each of those as well. Their record out on the road in the Champions League isn’t great with just six victories in their last seventeen on the road (D5 L6).
The Spaniards have picked up four losses in their last ten games out on the road in Europe (W3 D3). Barcelona have not collected a victory in any of their last seven trips to Italy having picked up a D4 L3 record in hat sequence. Their overall record away from home against Italian sides is just W6 D10 L7. Luis Suarez has six goals in his last four games for Barcelona and he is the even-money first goalscorer favourite though* (betting odds taken on November 4th 2018 at 10:47 am).
Inter have been showing some good form this season but still, they came up short when faced with the might of Barcelona. But they could battle and raise their game better at the San Siro and they have coped with the might of Barcelona before there. Draw. That suits Barcelona fine.
5th November 2018 / lee - Category: UEFA Champions League Betting
There are two form sides having a showdown in this one on Monday night in a top-four clash. Inter are on a five-match winning streak in Serie A and will be looking to hold off the attentions of Lazio. Lazio are in great form too having won five of their last six in the league and they are just a point behind Inter. Read our Lazio v Inter betting tips for more.
* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on October 26th, 2018 at 1:21 p.m.)
Lazio have won back to back league games heading into this fixture, that was after banking a comfortable 2-0 away win at Parma last weekend. Both of those wins were with a clean sheet. In their last seven league games, Lazio have powered their way to a W6 L1 record, with the only reverse in that sequence happening in a fixture against Roma. Lazio have lost their two games so far this season played against sides currently in the top four (Napoli and Juventus) so that is a bit of a concern from a betting perspective. Lazio are W4 L1 at home this season, winning each of their last three.
Lazio have produced the seven home goals across four games this season and two of those games have seen them get a clean sheet. Under 2.5 goals is at even money odds* (betting odds taken on October 28th, 2018 at 12:13 pm). There is a good trend with Lazio in that they have opened the scoring in each of their four home games this season while they have not been trailing at halftime in any of them. Ciro Immobile is on a three-match scoring streak in the top flight. Immobile is 5/6 in the anytime goalscorer market* (betting odds taken on October 28th, 2018 at 12:13 pm). Lazio have put together a seven-match scoring streak in the top flight and four of their six wins this season have been by a one-goal margin.
Inter took four points from league meetings with Lazio last season
Three of the last four meetings have produced an away win (D1) (all competitions)
Four of the last five meetings in all competitions have gone over 2.5 goals
Lazio have lost their last two league home games against Inter
Inter have scored exactly three goals in three of their last four league games against Lazio
Inter are unbeaten in four Serie A games against Lazio (D2)
Inter came out on top in a Milan derby last weekend, Mauro Icardi getting the weekend deep into stoppage time for them at the San Siro. Those three points moved Inter onto a five-match winning streak in the top flight. Four of the six wins Inter have recorded this season have all been with a clean sheet as well. An Inter to win to nil option is at 9/2 odds* (betting odds taken on October 28th, 2018 at 12:13 pm). The interesting thing about them in this one is that they have yet to face a current top four side either home or away this season.
Inter are on a three-match winning streak away from home, shipping only two goals in their four road fixtures. The 1-1 correct score option is the shortest-priced option in the market at 11/2 odds* (betting odds taken on October 28th, 2018 at 12:13 pm). Inter have scored the bulk of their goals (83% actually) away from home in the second half of games. They have opened the scoring in all but one of their four road games as well. The half time draw probably isn’t a bad option for this. Inter Milan have scored 54% of their goals after the 75th minute. Mauro Icardi has scored each of Inter’s last three goals in Serie A and Icardi is at 6/5 in the anytime goalscorer market
The draw tops out our prediction for Lazio v Inter. They have very similar form this season and the reason we can’t fully support Inter for a win is that they are untested against the top sides in the league so far. Draw.
28th October 2018 / lee - Category: European Football Betting
It is a big Milan derby at the San Siro on the weekend and it should be a good showdown. Inter are up in third place in the table four points clear of Milan who are a long way down the standing in tenth. So Milan could make a massive move for themselves with a win in this one. Read our Inter v AC Milan betting tips for more.
AC Milan 2/1
* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on October 17th, 2018 at 9:55 p.m.)
Inter are on a big four-match winning streak in Serie A, so were really starting to put it together after some sticky form early on. They are W2 D1 L1 at home this season but have won their last two there. They have scored exactly two goals in three of their four home games. We do feel this is going to be close and competitive and an Inter Milan 2-1 correct score option is at 17/2 odds* (betting odds taken on October 17th, 2018 at 10:32 pm). Four of their six home goals this season have been netted in the first half of games. They have not conceded a first-half goal on home soil yet this term. The half time draw looks a pretty solid option for this one.
Four of their five wins this season have been by a one-goal margin only so Inter to win by a one-goal margin is handily priced up at 3/1 odds* (betting odds taken on October 17th, 2018 at 10:32 pm). Their big threat up front is Mauro Icardi who has three goals in his last three games for Inter. He has just the one at home through this season which was from the penalty spot. Everything about this game just screams that it is going to be competitive. Opening up a seven-point lead over the rivals with a win would go down a treat.
AC Milan have started putting things together well too this season. They lost their opener against Napoli but have remained undefeated in their six league games since (W3 D3). A win would be huge for them as it would put them to within a point of Inter (who start in third) and AC Milan would have a game in hand over them as well. AC Milan have outscored their rivals this season in the league, despite having played a game less. They have fifteen against Inter’s twelve goals.
So that is a good indicator that they are going to pose a big challenge to Inter here. Both teams to score is at 4/6 odds* (betting odds taken on October 17th, 2018 at 10:32 pm). They have had their issues at the back to be fair as they have not yet earned a clean sheet in Serie A so far. They have shipped exactly one goal in five of their seven league games this season. Their defeat at Napoli is their only game so far this season against a current top four side. They have only picked up a W1 D2 L1 record on their travels this season. They went into the international break having scored seven goals in two though.
Last season there was a 3-2 win for Inter in this fixture, with the reverse ending in a 0-0 draw. Three of the last four Milan derby matches in Serie A have finished in a draw. Over the last six league meetings, Inter are narrowly ahead with a W2 D3 L1 record. Four of the last five meetings have actually gone over 2.5 goals.
There is a nice odds-against price on Inter to come out on top in this game. It should be another tight contest between them, but Inter shade things ever so slightly in overall quality and are the more settled of the two.
18th October 2018 / lee - Category: European Football Betting
This should be another interesting meeting between the two, as they have produced some crackers in the past. Inter Milan have been tipped to make a run at the Serie A title this season, but they haven’t started all that well. But Spurs have just started to struggle as well so this should be a pretty even clash. Read our Inter v Tottenham betting tips for more.
* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on September 15th, 2018 at 11:35 p.m.)
It has not been the successful season for Inter that it was expected to have been. They were tipped to be a strong force this season in Serie A but that hasn’t panned out as they only produced a W1 D1 L2 record. On home soil they have only gone D1 L2, suffering a home loss against Parma there on the weekend. We are going to actually take a look under 2.5 goals at 3/1 odds* (Betting Odds were taken from September 15th, 2018 at 11:35 p.m.) for the game because neither are particularly in good form. That is despite there being an average of over four goals per game in the previous meetings between these two.
Neither are looking that sharp at the moment. Inter Milan find themselves in the Champions League for the first time since the 2011/12 season where they made it through to the first knockout round. They have only won two of their last six home games (L4) in Europe so they aren’t in great form. The two wins in that sequence though were in their last two games and they were both 2-1 successes over Lille and then Marseille. Considering this group hosts Barcelona too it is going to be important to avoid defeat in this one.
In last season’s group, stage Spurs pulled off a big surprise to many in beating Real Madrid to top spot in their group with a W5 D1 record on the board. It was an impressive run of form from them in the group but can they reproduce that? This will be their fifth season of the UEFA Champions League now and their overall record including qualifying stands at W16 D7 L11. Their form has taken a dip though as they have lost their last two games, both 2-1 defeats against Watfor and then against Liverpool on the weekend. In both defeats, they looked really flat and not their usual clinical shelves. So this could be a tricky away game for them. Harry Kane is the 11/10 anytime goalscorer favorite* (Betting Odds were taken from September 15th, 2018 at 11:35 p.m.).
Tottenham’s away form in Europe last season was good and they played some great stuff. It doesn’t quite appear to be there for them at the moment and in the bet365 correct score market an Inter 1-0 option is at 7/1 odds* (Betting Odds were taken from September 15th, 2018 at 11:35 p.m.). That has big appeal in our Inter v Tottenham betting tips. Overall this season in all competitions Spurs have managed just the one clean sheet and they are going to be tested in this one at the San Siro, even if their opponents aren’t in great shape either.
There has been a couple of high scoring previous meetings between the pair of these. Their first coming together was in the 2010/11 Champions League with them both treading home wins, both of which produced at least four goals. Their next coming together was in the Europa League in some 2013 fixtures which again produced a home win in each. All four of the previous meetings have produced at least three goals.
Neither are in top form heading into this fixture which adds that extra dimension to it. Spurs played well in Europe last season but they aren’t quite on their game at the moment. Because of that, the draw has the most appeal for us in our Inter v Tottenham betting tips.
17th September 2018 / lee - Category: UEFA Champions League Betting
Though looking tie for the Bhoys as they take on Serie A outfit Inter. Celtic have to ride their current form, especially at home to have a crack at the Nerazzurri on Thursday night, can they make the most of that to get a first leg lead? That will be important as Celtic aren’t always the best European travellers to back.
This doesn’t have the look of being a high-scoring match andtherefore Bet365’s 0-0 Bore Draw Insurance could be a good option to roll with. If the game ends in a 0-0 draw then online betting site Bet365 will refund pre-match losing stakes on the Correct Score, Scorecast and half time/full time markets as a free bet. Great insurance and new customers registering an account with them can get up to a free £200 bet as a welcome bonus.
The Bhoys have met Inter three times before in their history and their biggest encounter with them came in the 1967 European Champions Clubs’ Cup final, which the Scots won 2-1. They then met Inter again in the 1972 edition of the tournament and after two 0-0 draws, Celtic lost out 5-4 in a penalty shoot out in the semi final stage. Celtic do have a long history of matches against Italian opposition, but have only taken a W5 D7 L11 record from their 23 previous encounters with Italian Clubs. Celtic have not won any of their last seven matches against Italian opponents (D2 L5) and they go as underdogs for Thursday’s night’s clash in Glasgow.
Making that reading a little bit worse, they have lost their last four games against Italian opposition, failing to find the net in any of them. Celtic have won their last six matches played in all competitions, so do have some decent form in the bag at the moment. However, they did fail to take a win in any of their last three group stage matches (D1 L2) in the Europa League, and shipped a whopping eight goals in the process. The last time that they reached this stage of the tournament (back in the 2003/04) they did progress, eventually getting knocked out in the quarter finals.
Inter managed to go unbeaten through their group stage campaign, taking a W3 D3 record and they only conceded two goals in their six matches played. They have never won in Glasgow over 90 minutes (D2 L2), and they last faced Scottish opposition in the 2005/06 Champions League, winning and drawing against Rangers. Even though their Serie A campaign hasn’t caught fire, leaving them around mid table at the moment, they are in good away form in Europe, unbeaten in four on the road (W2 D2).
Doesn’t have the look of being a thriller. Celtic don’t face quality sides often enough and that may hurt them here. Inter are solid if nothing else and given their form on the road this season, should be good enough to quiet Parkhead and come away with a draw. Expect a low scoring game, and wouldn’t be too afraid to back a draw in the game.
18th February 2015 / lee - Category: Europa League Betting
Date & Kick-Off: Wednesday, 13 April 2011 – 1(;45 (GMT)
Venue: Veltins-Arena; Gelsenkirchen, Germany
TV Coverage: Sky Sports HD2
During their Round of 16 tie with Bayern Munich, Inter Milan needed some second-leg heroics in order to overhaul a first-leg home deficit. On that occasion, though, they were only trailing by the solitary goal and subsequently went on the clinch the tie 3-3 on aggregate and progress via away goals. As they make the trip to Germany for a second time, they find themselves 5-2 down on aggregate and not merely in urgent need of more heroics in Gelsenkirchen but also several minor miracles along the way if they’re to continue the defence of their crown.
Schalke were magnificent in Milan a week previous, twice coming from behind stun the 2009/2010 winners at San Siro to record a 5-2 win nobody in their right mind saw coming. So, rather unsurprisingly, it’s advantage Schalke heading back to Germany, according to the bookmakers who make the German side around a 1/50 shot to make the cut for the last-four, where they’ll face an English foe in either Chelsea or Manchester United.
Only a four-goal margin of victory will now suffice for the defending champions, who are ridiculously best-priced at 25/1 with Bet365 to defy logic and qualify for the semi-finals. Considering Schalke have won all four home games in this year’s competition, as well as the fact the German side have never even been beaten by Italian opposition at home in Europe, I wouldn’t exactly call those odds on Inter value, would you?
Nevertheless, this should be a thoroughly entertaining contest as Inter go in search of goals while Schalke look to protect their commanding lead.
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I had a sneaky suspicion that they might fare well over in Milan, tipping the German side to ground out a creditable draw against an Inter side who undoubtedly have their fair share of flaws. But even I was a million miles away from locating the real value, with Schalke running out 5-2 victors in Italy a little over a week ago and are now in pole position to book their first ever semi-final appearance in the Champions League.
Apart from the fact they were magnificent in Milan, they were also incredibly resilient and shown a tremendous amount of character. The victory was outstanding but made even more impressive by the fact they came from behind on two separate occasions. In the end, they ran out comfortable winners courtesy of goals from Josel Matip, Raul, who else, an Andrea Ranocchia own goal and an Edu brace.
Even their inexperience at this depth of the competition shouldn’t compromise their progression, with Schalke having failed at this very hurdle, the quarter-final, on two previous occasions and have never made the semi’s. They’ll be nervous, no doubt about that, but their margin for error is so great that even an emphatic defeat would probably still see them through, especially if they were to maintain a trend of having scored exactly 3 goals in each of their previous 3 home games in Europe, doing so more recently, and impressively, against Valencia in the Round of 16.
As if confidence in camp was already sky-high, Schalke maintained their winning form – winning their last three games on the spin in all competitions – and momentum with a hard-fought 1-0 victory at home to struggling Wolfsburg at the weekend. The only slight drawback was that Schalke manager Ralf Rangnick couldn’t afford the luxury of resting his stars players, what with The Royal Blues having an indifferent season in the German Bundesliga, where they reside in a far from flattering 9th, eleven-points off the relegation places but a staggering 27 adrift of leaders Dortmund.
The 2009/2010 winners are on the ropes for the second knockout round running and if they are to successfully defend their crown, they’ll have to do so the hardest way imaginable. A 5-2 home reverse means Leonardo’s men now require a four-goal margin of victory over in Germany in order make amends for their atrocious performance in the opening leg, as well as pencil in a last-four date with either Chelsea of Manchester United – an unthinkable scenario though at the present time.
Few would undermine the work Leonardo has done in transforming the Nerrazzuri and revitalising the club’s prospects of ending the season with silverware since Rafael Benitez’s high-profile departure at the end of last year, however the Brazilian has struggled to replicate the consistency shown in Serie A – the former AC Milan manager having masterminded a Scudetto revival which has seen Inter win 12 of the 16 league games that he’s taken charge of since joining the club at the beginning of January– in Europe, with Inter’s hopes of becoming the first club in the Champions League era to successfully defend their crown now looking slim at best.
Leonardo now needs his big-game players to deliver on Wednesday night, with the Brazilian seeking some inspiration from two players in particular: playmaker Wesley Sneijder and Samuel Eto, two of the goalscorers at the Allianz Arena in the previous round as Inter somehow overcame a 1-0 first-leg home defeat to record a 3-2 win in Germany over the most successful club in German history, Bayern Munich.
Their task second time around is a far leaner one, facing a mammoth uphill climb as they trail this particular tie 5-2, although, Schalke are nowhere near as revered in Germany as the Bavarians are, so the Nerrazzuri are at least dealing with an ’easier’ outfit on paper, but one which boasts an imperious record in Gelsenkircehn in Europe this season and one which they couldn’t tame at home a week previous, when shipping five away goals.
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Betting Odds & Tips
Match Prediction: Inter Milan to WIN – 2.63 Boylesports
For Schalke, Jefferson Farfan will miss out through suspension while the same applies for Inter’s temperamental full-back Christian Chivu, who was dismissed in the first-leg for two bookable offences.
The above absences shouldn’t be too costly for either side, though Schalke will certainly miss the width and pace out wide that Farfan brings to the table. Even so, at home, where they have been particularly impressive in Europe this season, they should hang onto their commanding aggregate lead.
The Italians, though, will be throwing the kitchen sink at Schalke, so we could be in for another high-scoring contest. The Nerrazzuri aren’t exactly what I would call formidable in an attacking sense, though they still boast several nifty individuals (Samuel Eto, Wesley Sneijder; Dejan Stankovic and Esteban Cambiasso can be useful when push comes to shove). Four goals, which is the minimum they require in Germany, is beyond them in my opinion, especially as they need a clean sheet at the other end which, what with Schalke having won all four matches in Gelsenkirchen previously, scoring exactly three goals in each of their last three, would appear unlikely.
As far as the match goes, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Inter come out on top. Schalke know full well that they have a comfortable lead, which they can sit on for large periods of the game. But if their plan is solely to defend then it could be dangerous, especially in the scenario where Inter go 2-0 up, as then the nerves really will begin to creep into their system. However, I still reckon four-goals is beyond Leonardo’s men, but I’m not entirely convinced Schalke will be doing their utmost to score that one solitary goal which would all but kill the tie stone-dead. Inter Milan it is, then.
I could be wrong but I believe Schalke will begin proceedings in a conservative manner, whereas Inter should start as they mean to go in, which is to attack at every possible opportunity in a bid to kick-start their unlikely recovery. If this is the case then Inter are value to take a lead into the half-time break. There’s also a whiff of value in Schalke to respond in the second-half should the Italians steal a march on them with victory in the opening period, with Inter/Draw (15.00 SkyBet) and Inter/Schalke (29.00 SportingBet) both tasty!
12th April 2011 / Matt - Category: UEFA Champions League Betting