Champions League

Messi 'icing on the cake' for dangerous Barca

2018-11-05 16:38
Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi (AP)

Milan - Lionel Messi is the icing on Barcelona's cake, Inter Milan coach Luciano Spalletti said on Monday on the eve of the Champions League Group B game between the two teams.

Messi could make an earlier return than expected against Inter Milan in the San Siro on Tuesday after breaking his arm on October 20, but the Catalans have shown some of their strongest form in his absence.

"Messi is the icing on the cake. His is the shirt that children who dream of being footballers ask for," said Spalletti, "but Barcelona have shown that even without him, they still have the mentality to develop their game, which is what makes the difference.

"It's a worry for anyone if Messi plays, but the attitude doesn't change.

"We're facing one of the strongest clubs in the world in any case. We need to be better in our reading of the game, but we're going to mark space, not men."

Barcelona are top of Group B with maximum points from three games ahead of Inter Milan who lost 2-0 in Spain.

A draw against Inter would guarantee the Spaniards qualification to the last 16 while victory would secure top spot, with two games still to spare.

Inter need a win to all but book their passage to the last 16 in a group which also includes Tottenham and PSV Eindhoven.

"It's the right time to show what we're worth," said Spalletti, whose side are coming off a seven-match winning streak in Serie A in which they are in second place, three points behind champions Juventus.

"We've always said we can play against anyone, and that still holds true.

"The latest results reinforce that and this will be a good opportunity to see if we really can play on a par with Barcelona, who represent the highest level of difficulty in football.

"In the first game we weren't able to keep the ball after winning it back, which meant we couldn't reverse the trend of the game."

Belgium midfielder Radja Nainggolan could return after missing the first leg with an ankle injury after coming on to score in a 5-0 win over Genoa at the weekend.

"He has to be evaluated. We'll know more after training," added the Inter coach.

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Tuesday, 27 November 2018
AEK Athens v Ajax, Olympiako Stadio Spyros Louis 19:55
CSKA Moskva v Viktoria Plzen, Stadion Luzhniki 19:55
Juventus v Valencia, Allianz Stadium 22:00
Bayern Munchen v Benfica, Allianz-Arena 22:00
Olympique Lyonnais v Manchester City, Groupama Stadium 22:00
Manchester United v Young Boys, Old Trafford 22:00
Roma v Real Madrid, Stadio Olimpico 22:00
Hoffenheim v Shakhtar Donetsk, Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena 22:00
Wednesday, 28 November 2018
Atletico Madrid v Monaco, Estadio Wanda Metropolitano 19:55
Lokomotiv Moskva v Galatasaray, RZD Arena 19:55
Porto v Schalke 04, Estadio Do Dragao 22:00
PSG v Liverpool, Parc des Princes 22:00
PSV v Barcelona, Philips Stadion 22:00
Borussia Dortmund v Club Brugge, Signal-Iduna-Park 22:00
Napoli v Crvena Zvezda, Stadio San Paolo 22:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Internazionale, Wembley Stadium 22:00
Tuesday, 11 December 2018
Galatasaray v Porto, Turk Telekom Stadyumu 19:55
Schalke 04 v Lokomotiv Moskva, Veltins-Arena 19:55
Liverpool v Napoli, Anfield 22:00
Barcelona v Tottenham Hotspur, Camp Nou 22:00
Club Brugge v Atletico Madrid, Jan Breydelstadion 22:00
Monaco v Borussia Dortmund, Stade Louis II 22:00
Internazionale v PSV, Stadio Giuseppe Meazza 22:00
Crvena Zvezda v PSG, Stadion Rajko Mitic 22:00
Wednesday, 12 December 2018
Viktoria Plzen v Roma, Doosan Arena 19:55
Real Madrid v CSKA Moskva, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu 19:55
Valencia v Manchester United, Estadio de Mestalla 22:00
Benfica v AEK Athens, Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (da Luz) 22:00
Manchester City v Hoffenheim, Etihad Stadium 22:00
Ajax v Bayern Munchen, Johan Cruijff ArenA 22:00
Shakhtar Donetsk v Olympique Lyonnais, Oblasny SportKomplex Metalist 22:00
Young Boys v Juventus, STADE DE SUISSE Wankdorf Bern 22:00
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