Matchday 3 Build-up
It has been a very long time since Real Madrid and Inter Milan faced each other, almost 22 years! Today, Real Madrid hosts Inter Milan in the 1st leg of their tie in Group B of UEFA Champions League. Eden Hazard returned from injury last weekend to score a goal against Huesca in a 4-1 beating. Unlike Barcelona, Real Madrid is doing well in La Liga but poorly in UCL. After losing the UCL opening match against Shakhtar Donetsk, Real Madrid managed to keep afloat in the group when Casemiro took matters into his own hands against Burossia MonchenGladbach, winning a point in the final minutes.
Inter Milan against the same opponents managed to produce two points, and now Inter travels to Madrid in what promises to be an outstanding match.
Wounded RB Leipzig in Group H will look to punish PSG and Tuchel who is missing Neymar, Icardi and probably Mbappe as latest reports suggest.
Last but not least, one of the most anticipated matches in matchday 3 is Atalanta vs Liverpool. With Atalanta’s minor stumbles in Serie-A plus Liverpool’s turning into 1990s Juventus (doing just enough to get the job done), this is the tie that will put doubts to rest on one side and start the fire of speculation on the other.
If you missed it, it is worth going back to check on NMA’s UCL Matchday 3 Preview featuring fixtures guidance and difficulty tables. While my fellow author and UCL expert Prakhar has given us his insights on MD3 players picks, and PPQ is trying his hardest and needs your support with his Fantasy team “UCL MD3 Rate My Team”.
Managing Madrid & Serpents of Madonnina Interviews
It was my pleasure to host and interview David and Lucas from Real Madrid and Inter Milan blogs on SBNation.com. Without further ado, enjoy:
MiQ: Hello Lucas, and deep thanks to “managingmadrid.com” for participating in this mini-interview! Starting things off: Real Madrid won last season’s La Liga mainly because Barcelona was self-imploding. Hazard was injured for the most part of the season, while Bale was simply not interested. Los Blancos were knocked out of the UCL by Manchester City in the round of 16. How do you rate last season in general?
Lucas: I give it a 7 just because of how serious and focused the team was after the pandemic and the two-month break. Watching the team play wasn’t always fun, and Courtois was often the MotM, but at least they always found a way to get the job done, and their 10-game winning streak was as good as you can hope for given the circumstances.
MiQ: In order to provide our readers with an advantage in this season’s UCL fantasy, we would love to hear your opinion on a few subjects if you do not mind. How is the general fans’ reaction to the group-stage draw followed by a surprise loss to Shakhtar Donetsk and then a comeback against Burossia Mon’bach?
Lucas: I knew that this group wasn’t going to be easy, mainly because of how tough I expected the away games against Gladbach, Shakhtar and Inter are, and I wasn’t wrong. Now both Madrid and Inter will be in a tough situation for the next two games. If one of them drops both games, it will be extremely difficult for them to advance to the Round of 16. I think that Madrid should’ve obviously beaten Shakhtar at home, but that was quite probably one of the worst performances I’ve seen from this team, even in the second half when they managed to score twice. Madrid did well against Gladbach overall. I thought they controlled the game just fine but conceded those two goals that made the comeback very difficult, and in the end you have to feel quite satisfied with the draw, given that it changes the whole scenario.
MiQ: UCL fantasy is based on player price vs points return. As an expert of everything Inter, who are the best consistent performers, and who are the players we should stay away from when selecting our teams? Should we risk having Hazard or wait a couple of matches?
Lucas: I think Valverde should offer pretty good quality for value, and the same can be said about Mendy. About Hazard, his last two games have been very encouraging, and I think he can keep them going, so I think it’s the right time to select him.
MiQ: Real Madrid won 4-1 in La Liga this weekend as a reaction to the poor start in UCL. Do you expect the team will continue in this form, or is it going to be inconsistent this season?
Lucas: I think it could be an inconsistent season for Madrid mainly because their offense doesn’t look right. The team isn’t playing well when the opposition is sitting back and defending properly, and that’s a scenario they’re going to face quite often. Unless Zidane finds a way to create an inspired offensive scheme, this could be a tough season for Madrid. Luckily enough for them, the main contenders for La Liga are looking similar, so they will still have a shot at the domestic title.
MiQ: To close: Line-up and result prediction for the match against Inter Milan in MD 3?
Lucas: Lineup: Courtois, Vazquez, Varane, Ramos, Mendy, Casemiro, Valverde, Kroos, Hazard, Asensio, Benzema.
Result: Real Madrid 2-1 Inter
MiQ: Thank you Lucas, and you have our best wishes from the NMA team for a fantastic UCL evening!
MiQ: Hello Daniel, and deep thanks to the best English blog about the Nerazurri “http://Serpentsofmadonnina.com” for participating in this mini-interview! Starting things off: Inter had a rough Champions League draw last season and ended up placing third behind Barcelona and Dortmund in the group stage only to join the Europa League and lose the final to recent default winners Sevilla. Also, Inter finished Serie A in second place, just 1 point behind Juventus. It has been a long time since Inter won any title; how does it feel to come short on two ends as a fan who was used to triumph after triumph in the late noughties?
Daniel: It’s painful, no doubt. To get so close to breaking a ten-year trophy doubt and yet to fall short is not a nice experience. But it is a sign of progress in Antonio Conte’s project. Just a few years ago this club was struggling to get into the top four in Serie A and looked directionless. Conte has changed that though, and Inter seems to be on the rise thanks to him and the transfer market work of Beppe Marotta.
MiQ: In order to provide our readers with an advantage in this season’s UCL fantasy, we would love to hear your opinion on a few subjects if you do not mind. How is the general fans’ reaction to the group-stage draw followed by two points gathered against weaker opposition?
Daniel: It’s been rather disappointing to see the Nerazzurri earn just two points so far. In both games (against Shakhtar Donetsk and Borussia Monchengladbach) Inter dominated and yet failed to find a finishing touch. Safe to say, Madrid will be sure to find the back of the net, so Inter will need to be on its game in the final third. The pair of draws has also put Inter’s advancement into question. The Nerazzurri have failed to reach the Round of 16 in the last two editions, so a third failure would be devastating. A win Tuesday though would help alleviate those fears.
MiQ: UCL fantasy is based on player price vs points return. As an expert of everything Inter, who are the best consistant performers, and who are the players we should stay away from when selecting our teams?
Daniel: Lautaro Martinez has been in poor form of late, so I wouldn’t take him. However, his fellow South American, Arturo Vidal, has been one of the stand-out performers so far, along with Nicolo Barella. Ex-Real Madrid man Achraf Hakimi started the season superbly but fell off in recent matches. He could still be a good pick against his old club however, as he should be afforded plenty of space to run in down the right flank.
MiQ: It has been mentioned by football critics that Lukaku is the new Lewandowski — he scored the only 2 Inter goals in UCL so far. Unfortunately, he picked up an injury against Borussia Mon’bach. How would you expect Antonio Conte to line up against Real Madrid?
Daniel: I see Conte using his normal 3-5-2 formation once again. Samir Handanovic will be in goal, while Alessandro Bastoni, Stefan de Vrij, and Danilo D’Ambrosio will make up the back three. The midfield gets a little murkier, but Vidal, Barella, and Marcelo Brozovic are the favorites to start. As for attack, Alexis Sanchez could partner Lautaro upfront since the Chilean has recovered from his abductor injury. Ivan Perisic and Andrea Pinamonti are also in consideration, however.
MiQ: As a Fiorentina fan, I wish Inter would knock Juventus off of the Serie A crown, but it seems that the team is yet to become consistent and a powerhouse. How do you see the Inter project progressing so far?
Daniel: It has been positive so far. Conte has taken Inter from squeaking into the Champions League to being a serious title contender. Whether it can take the next step remains to be seen, but the early results leave room for optimism. Inter’s young core of Bastoni (21), Barella (23), Hakimi (22), and Lautaro (23) are all sure to improve in the coming years, and if Inter can keep hold of them, the future will be bright. As for now, the team has a good mix of veterans and youth in the squad, which will be vastly important in the big games that could decide the season.
MiQ: Thank you Daniel and you have our best wishes from the NMA team for a fantastic UCL evening!
Crazy Monday - Injury Updates
It has been crazy here since the injury news yesterday, here are the updates:
- Ajax: Some players returned positive COVID-19 tests, so eleven (either positive or because of contact) did not travel to Denmark to face Midtjylland. Notable missing players are: Onana, Klaasen, Dusan Tadic, Martin Steklenberg and Gravenberch.
- Inter Milan: Romelu Lukaku could not shake of his minor injury and did not travel to Madrid.
- Bayern Munchen: Sule tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Bayern’s match against Salzburg.
- PSG: Reports are that Mbappe missed the training with a thigh issue and could miss the game against RB Leipzig.
- Real Madrid: Late reports say that Lucas Vasquez returned to the squad ahead of the match with Inter Milan and could put Marcelo/Mendy starting chances at risk. The mystery positive COVID-19 test that was announced on Sunday belongs to defender Militao.
- BVB: Hummels picked up an injury in Bundesliga after scoring 2 goals. Reports are conflicting, but he is either going to miss a few weeks or is doubtful for the match.
Today’s early-start games are Shakhtar Donetsk vs Borussia Monchengladbach and Lokomotiv Moscow vs Atletico Madrid. The lineups for both matches should be announced an hour earlier! It is always recommended to work on your transfers at that time. I’m Aiming for more than 90 points this matchday. Good luck to everyone!
How’s your team faring? Have you been hit by any of the missing players? Do you have any tactical questions? And which matches do you plan / wish to watch as a fan? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!