Champions League Tipsheet: Barca to come unstuck at San Siro
Inter are in the best form of the Luciano Spalletti era and can upset Barcelona at San Siro on Tuesday, says James Horncastle...
"Inter are hitting heights they have previously not reached in 18 months under Spalletti. The team is playing good football, boasts the best defence in Serie A and lost causes like Dalbert, Roberto Gagliardini and Joao Mario are suddenly contributing to decisive effect."
Inter v Barcelona
Live on BT Sport/ESPN
Inter could not go into Tuesday night's clash with Barcelona in better form. This weekend's 5-0 win against Genoa was their seventh in a row in the league and it built on the team's best performance of the season, a 3-0 dismantling of Lazio last Monday.
Inter are hitting heights they have previously not reached in 18 months under Spalletti. The team is playing good football, boasts the best defence in Serie A and lost causes like Dalbert, Roberto Gagliardini and Joao Mario are suddenly contributing to decisive effect.
Saturday's victory served to underline once again that Inter are no longer dependent on Mauro Icardi for goals. The Argentine was able to put his feet up and keep himself fresh for Barcelona without his absence impacting negatively on the team. The sight of Radja Nainggolan returning from injury for the first time since the derby and using the five minutes available to him to get himself on the scoresheet is another reason for Interisti to be encouraged.
San Siro is sold out for Tuesday's game and as we saw against Spurs this stadium can lift the team even when it is not playing well. Inter will fancy their chances of making a dent in this Barça team which continues to concede goals all too easily for Ernesto Valverde's liking. The Nerazzurri disappointed at the Camp Nou but I predict it will be a different story this midweek. Take Inter to win @ [3.55].
Scary for Thierry
Monaco v Club Brugge
Live on BT Sport 1
Bottom of the table, four points adrift of safety in Ligue 1 and still without a win under Thierry Henry, Monaco are in big trouble. Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Reims provoked a bad reaction from the team's away support. Thirty or so Monaco fans attempted to invade the pitch and confront the players after 10th defeat of the season. "I can understand it," Henry said afterwards.
Monaco had 72% of the ball but did nothing with it. Fragile and error-prone at the back, the team looks nervous. You would be if you hadn't tasted victory since the opening day of the campaign and are now winless in 14 games in all competitions.
Complicating matters for this young and raw team are the mistakes made by dressing room veterans and an injury crisis that's the stuff of nightmare. Radamel Falcao hurt himself against Strasbourg. Steven Jovetic pulled up in Brugge and Nacer Chadli had to abandon the game against Dijon. The team can't keep a clean sheet to save it's life at the moment. Monaco's last one was 10 games ago. It's the club's worst run in 12 years.
I fancy the Belgian league leaders to end their barren spell in the Champions League and pile more misery on Monaco at the Stade Louis II. Take them to win @ [3.3].
Napoli v PSG
Live on BT Sport 3
Napoli deserved to win at the Parc des Princes two weeks ago. They out-played PSG in the first half and looked like causing another upset to go with their 1-0 win against Liverpool at the San Paolo. While disappointed that a Mario Rui own-goal and a world-class equaliser in stoppage-time from Angel Di Maria denied Napoli victory, you could see afterwards that Carlo Ancelotti was confident of making amends in the return leg.
PSG's lack of balance and the half-hearted way their attacking players track back are the reasons why. Thomas Tuchel's side did improve in the second half after switching to a 3-4-3. The German hasn't changed system since then and PSG look better for it. Marquinhos is playing in his natural position and the defence has greater cover. Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Edinson Cavani only need a moment to win a game.
But Napoli appear to have broken through a glass ceiling under Ancelotti. Playing in this competition against this calibre of opposition no longer fazes them. There is no inferiority complex. On the contrary Napoli are raising their game against better resourced rivals for qualification.
The Partenopei warmed up for Tuesday's game in the best way possible, blowing Empoli away 5-1. Lorenzo Insigne's hot streak continues, Dries Mertens hit a hat-trick of goals, all of which came from outside the area, and even substitute Arkadiusz Milik joined in the scoring. Take Napoli to win @ [2.96].
Back Inter to beat Barcelona @ [3.55]
Back Club Brugge to beat Monaco @ [3.3]
Back Napoli to beat PSG @ [2.96]