Barcelona-Inter Betting Preview: No Messi, No Problem for Barca?
Pictured: Philippe Coutinho, Ivan Rakitic
Betting odds: Inter Milan at Barcelona
- Inter moneyline: +550
- Barcelona moneyline: -189
- Draw: +350
- Over/Under: 3 (+106/-119)
- Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET
- Channel: BR Live
>> All odds as of Wednesday 5 p.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time Soccer odds and track your bets
There’s little doubt that Wednesday night boasts the more highly anticipated matches in the Champions League this week, with Inter Milan’s return to Camp Nou — the home of Barcelona — among the most mouth-watering contest.
The two sides last met on a memorable night back in 2010, in the second leg of a Champions League semifinal, and it’s a match that still irks fans of the Catalan club.
Looking to defend a shocking 3-1 first-leg win in San Siro, Jose Mourinho’s Inter parked the bus to earn a place in the final, with Barcelona managing only a 1-0 win despite mustering 20 shots to Inter’s one — a strike off target from more than 40 yards.
Eight years have passed, but the home crowd will still see this match as a chance to exact some revenge on a gut-wrenching defeat, although Barca will have to do so without their star man.
Lionel Messi suffered a fractured arm early on in the weekend win over Sevilla and will miss out, but Inter’s victory in the Milan derby on Sunday also came at a cost.
Radja Nainggolan is certain to miss out through injury, and while Croatian duo Marcelo Brozovic and Ivan Perisic have both traveled to Spain, both are severe doubts to start the game on Wednesday.
All three are pivotal first-team players for the Nerazzurri, playing important roles in a run of seven consecutive victories in all competitions.
Barcelona can’t boast anything like such an impressive record in recent weeks, but their win on Saturday did restore the La Liga trophy-holders to the top spot at Sevilla’s expense.
Moreover, while the injury to Messi is of course a significant blow, the fact that the hosts have had an extra day’s rest should play into their hands.
If Inter are weakened to the degree that they could well be, they really do face an uphill battle to get a result, but also know that a defeat — provided it isn’t too heavy — wouldn’t be a disaster considering their six-point advantage over both Tottenham and PSV heading into Wednesday’s fixtures.
Finding the right angle for a home win is the challenge then, and given the visitors’ injury woes, we could see a trend continue when these sides have met at Camp Nou.
Not only have Barcelona won the last three meetings between the teams when playing as hosts, but Inter haven’t so much as scored a goal across said games. While their current winning streak is impressive, they needed 92 minutes to score the only goal of the game against fierce rivals AC Milan last time out, and their efforts into the dying stages may well lead to some fatigue.
Luciano Spalletti’s defense is strong though, and with that in mind I like the price on Barcelona to Win combined with Under 2.5 goals (+317 at Bookmaker).
While Barcelona haven’t kept a clean sheet in six league games, their last shutout came in Europe against PSV, and this match could well follow a similar pattern.
The absence of Samuel Umtiti has certainly been felt by the home side, but Inter, without as many as three key players in support of captain and star striker Mauro Icardi, could leave the Argentine with too much to do.
However, the feeling of unfinished business isn’t restricted to Barcelona as a team in this one, it should be said, with Icardi having failed to make the grade at Barcelona as a youngster, so he’ll be keen to prove a point, while the same could be said of Philippe Coutinho.
The former Inter star was allowed to leave for Liverpool despite showing flashes of brilliance for the Serie A outfit, who deemed the Brazilian too inconsistent despite his tender years.
The playmaker has undeniably gone from strength to strength since, however, and Messi’s absence may well afford Coutinho a greater chance to haunt his former club if he is pushed forward into a front three.
Considering that likelihood, he’s worthy of consideration in the anytime scorer market, and a price of +200 around the market seems reasonable as Barcelona look to their support cast to fill the boots of their missing magician.
The Bets: Barcelona To Win and Under 2.5 Goals (+317), Philippe Coutinho to score (+200)