Twitter Hails Barcelona’s Youth Movement as Record-Breaker Ansu Fati Knocks Inter Out of CL

?Goals from La Masia graduates Carles Perez and Ansu Fati guided a second-string Barcelona side to a 2-1 win over Inter on Tuesday night, knocking the Serie A leaders out of the competition.

Dortmund’s defeat in Barcelona last time out coupled with Inter’s victory in Prague meant that, in order to progress to the knockout stages, all Antonio Conte’s men needed to do on matchday six was match BVB’s result.

And early on, they looked like the more likely side to get the breakthrough with Romelu Lukaku, Cristiano Biraghi and Danilo D’Ambrosio all failing to find the back of the net despite finding themselves in promising positions. 




Then, against the run of play, Barça struck after Diego Godin’s interception of a direct Antione Griezmann pass fell into the path of 21-year-old Perez, the La Masia graduate making no mistake from close range. It’s also worth noting that teenager Jean-Clair Todibo played a huge role in the goal – driving out of defence to put the visitors on the front foot.




After Clement Lenglet spurned a glorious chance to double the Catalans’ lead, the hosts gained momentum at the end of the first half, eventually getting their reward for an impressive opening 45 minutes through Lukaku after all the hard work was done by Lautaro Martinez.


The second half started rather cagey, with Inter knowing that a 1-1 draw would be enough with Dortmund also being held by Slavia Praha. But, after Julian Brandt gave BVB the lead in Germany, the chances started to come…and go for the home side, with Lukaku the main culprit for missed opportunities.


?With Inter missing chances, the visitors continued to threaten in transition with Conte seemingly abandoning his central midfield in favour of attacking talent from the substitutes bench.

And while Frenkie de Jong and Luis Suarez were thrown into the mix, it was Valverde’s final substitution, 17-year-old Ansu Fati, who made Inter pay as the winger drove home from distance to give his side the lead – becoming the youngest ever goalscorer in the Champions League while at it.






There was no ‘Miracle in Milan’ by the home side as Barça held onto their 2-1 lead, sending I Nerazzurri down to the Europa League with Dortmund joining the Catalans in the last 16.

On the whole, Barça fans were more than satisfied with their youthful side’s display, with Jean-Clair Todibo and Carles Alena impressing throughout.




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Inter 1-2 Barcelona: Report, Ratings & Reactions as Youngest CL Scorer Ansu Fati Knocks Out Italians

?Inter failed to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages after falling to a 2-1 home defeat to Barcelona on Tuesday night – having needed to match or better Borussia Dortmund’s result against Slavia Praha to progress.

A pulsating first half of Champions League football got underway in an enthralling end-to-end manner. Danilo D’Ambrosio and Romelu Lukaku spurned good openings for the hosts while Carles Perez almost caught out Samir Handanovic with a fierce drive from the left at the other end. 

Despite the Nerazzurri looking the more likely, it was Ernesto Valverde’s men who took the lead through Perez. A driving run from Jean-Clair Todibo started the move with the ball eventually finding Antione Griezmann, the Frenchman playing a direct pass into the feet for Arturo Vidal only for Diego Godin to intervene – only for the Uruguayan’s touch to lay the ball on a plate for Perez, who made no mistake.

Carles Pérez

Just when Barça looked like they’d take a 1-0 advantage going into the break, Inter equalised. An exceptional bit of hold-up play from Lautaro – who held off the 6’2 Todibo expertly – led to the Argentine setting up Lukaku, whose strike was deflected past Barça debutant Neto. 

After a nervy start to the second period, Barça started to threaten in transition as Inter searched for a second – one they should’ve had through Lukaku, but his strike on the half-volley was straight at Neto.

With Dortmund’s lead meaning the home side needed a winner, Conte threw the kitchen sink at the Catalans, sending on Valentino Lazaro, Matteo Politano and Sebastiano Esposito in a bid to get that all-important goal. 

The final goal, however, came at the other end as substitute Ansu Fati gave Barça a 2-1 lead, emphatically driving home from outside the area shortly after being brought on, the 17-year-old becoming the competition’s youngest ever goalscorer while knocking out Inter in the process.


INTER

Key Talking Point

Antonio Conte will be bitterly disappointed that his side weren’t able to progress to the knockout stages after having more than enough chances to overcome the Catalan giants.

Antonio Conte

Conte’s side were intense early on and forced the visitors into uncharacteristic unforced errors, but they failed to capitalise on a few good chances, with Barça improved after taking the lead. 

Despite equalising through Lukaku just before the break, they failed to improve for much of the second half in their overall play – generally lacking creativity through the middle and lacking any quality from wide areas.

Any opportunities Inter created were through the tireless work of the top two, and they certainly had enough quality chances to win the game. Fati’s late winner, however, prevented a grandstand finish in Milan and the hosts will have to settle for the Europa League.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Handanovic (6); Godin (6), de Vrij (6), Skriniar (7); D’Ambrosio (6), Vecino (5), Brozovic (6), Valero (4), Biraghi (5); Martinez (8*), Lukaku (6).

Subs: Lazaro (4), Esposito (5), Politano (5)


Star Man

The legend of Lautaro Martinez continues to grow, with yet another fantastic display on Tuesday night. 

Although he was unable to get on the scoresheet – having two goals ruled out for offside in the second half – the diminutive Argentine was superb out of possession, constantly hassling Barca’s three centre-halves, while his superb hold-up play was on full display – setting up Lukaku for Inter’s only goal of the game.

On what was a disappointing night for the Nerazzurri, Lautaro certainly didn’t deserve to be on the losing side, and he’s a player who shouldn’t be playing Europa League football in 2020.


BARCELONA

Key Talking Point

Despite Valverde making seven changes from the side that dispatched Mallorca on the weekend, his players certainly looked up for it as they tried to impress their Spanish boss. 

After initially struggling to cope with Inter’s high press, one they rarely find themselves up against in La Liga, Perez’s goal against the run of play settled them down nicely. Vintage Barça soon came out and they looked the more likely side to get the second goal before Lukaku’s equaliser.

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They defended resolutely in the second period while looking incredibly dangerous in transition as the game wore on – eventually scoring the winner through substitute Fati.

On the whole, Valverde will be thrilled with his side’s work at San Siro, with many second-stringers proving their worth and the likes of Frenkie de Jong and Luis Suarez only appearing off the bench.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Neto (7); Todibo (7), Umtiti (6), Lenglet (8); Wague (7), Vidal (5), Rakitic (7), Alena (8*), Firpo (5); Griezmann (6), Perez (7).

Subs: De Jong (7), Suarez (6), Fati (7)


Star Man

It truly is remarkable that Carles Alena is probably sixth in Valverde’s central midfield pecking order at the moment. 

Carles Alena,Marcelo Brozovic

While others around him struggled to deal with the Nerazzurri’s intensity early on, the 21-year-old made it look easy. The Spaniard set Perez on his way with a perfectly weighted pass in behind the Inter backline for his side’s first chance, constantly showing off his ability with the ball at his feet, often beating the first press with some silky footwork.

Silky in possession and industrious off it, Alena certainly proved he’s more than capable of regular minutes in a Barça shirt. 


Looking Ahead

Inter will be looking to maintain their lead at the top of Serie A as they travel to Fiorentina on Sunday night.

Barcelona, meanwhile, have a tricky week ahead of them. They first take on the exciting Real Sociedad away from home in La Liga on Saturday before hosting El Clasico on Wednesday night. 


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The State of Play in the Champions League Group Stages Ahead of Final Matchday

?Here we go, people, the witching hour in the Champions League group stages is upon us. 

With one game remaining, there’s still plenty to play for across all the groups. Whether it be for a qualifying place, to top the group or secure a Europa League berth, every single game (apart from the odd anomaly) on Tuesday and Wednesday has something riding on it. 

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the permutations ahead of the final round of fixtures this week.


Group A

FBL-C1-EUR-REAL MADRID-PSG

OK, we’re not off to a great start in terms of drama with Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid already securing their places in next year’s knockouts. 

PSG’s come-from-behind draw at the Bernabeu on matchday five ensured that they finished as group winners, with Los Blancos forced to settle for second. 

In terms of who finishes third, Club Brugge are in pole position. The Belgian outfit host Real with a one-point advantage over Galatasaray, who travel to the Parc des Princes to take on PSG.

Faith Terim’s side will have to better Brugge’s result against Real if they want to qualify for the round of 32 in Europe’s inferior competition.


Group B

Robert Lewandowski,Benjamin Pavard

Last dull group, I promise. 

Bayern (1st) and Spurs (2nd) will go through to the last 16 ahead of their clash at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday night, with both sides likely to field second-string lineups in a bid to ensure they’re well prepared for their domestic clashes on the weekend.

But, there is something riding on the other game in Group B with Olympiacos needing to beat Red Star Belgrade in Greece if they want to finish third in the standings. Tune in if you’re interested in seeing how that one unfolds!


Group C

Junior Moraes

Right, here we go, some drama. 

While Manchester City have assured top spot, second is all to play for with the remaining three teams all vying for the other qualification place.

Shakhtar – who are second heading into the final matchday after their 1-1 draw at the Etihad last time out – will go through if they beat Atalanta at home, or if they draw and Dinamo Zagreb fail to beat City in Zagreb. Atalanta have to beat Shakhtar in their own backyard if they stand any chance of qualifying and also need Pep Guardiola’s side to get at least a point in Zagreb.

If Dinamo overcome what will likely be a weakened City side and Shakhtar fail to beat Atalanta, then the Croatian champions will be in the hat for the last 16. 

Drama, drama, drama.


Group D

Kevin Volland,Nadiem Amiri

Wednesday’s fixtures come to an end with one spot up for grabs in Group D.

While Juventus‘ gritty 1-0 win over Atletico saw them clinch first place, Atleti will need to beat Lokomotiv Moscow at the Wanda Metropolitano if they want to join I Bianconeri in the knockout phase.

If Los Rojiblancos fail to beat fourth-place Lokomotiv, that’ll open the door for Bayer Leverkusen to sneak in at the last minute. However, Peter Bosz’s side need to outlast Juve on matchday six to stand any chance of sneaking in. 

A draw for Bayer and defeat for Atleti will see the Spanish side through on the goal difference – with the head-to-head between the pair split at one apiece.


Group E

Erling Braut Haaland

Tuesday’s fixtures is where it gets really, really bloody good, starting with Group E. 

Napoli’s draw at Anfield last time out means there’s still everything to play for between three sides. Liverpool, who travel to RB Salzburg, currently sit atop of the pile and will qualify as group winner with a victory, or if Napoli fail to beat Genk.

The Naples-based outfit will go through with a draw or more against the Belgian’s, or if Salzburg fail to beat Liverpool. A win for Carlo Ancelotti’s men and just a point for the Reds will see Napoli steal top spot, with Jurgen Klopp’s side in second. 

Salzburg will be through if they beat Liverpool and Napoli fail to beat Genk. But to make it a little more confusing: if Napoli win, Salzburg must beat Liverpool by a better scoreline than the 4-3 by which they lost against them on Matchday 2 in order to qualify.

Genk… yeah, they’ll be rock-bottom no matter what.


Group F

Lautaro Martinez

A little bit simpler this one with Barcelona nailing on their position as group victor after their 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund on matchday five. 

The other qualifying spot will be awarded to either Dortmund or Inter. Antonio Conte’s side will go through if they beat the Catalans at San Siro, or as long as they finish at least level on points with Dortmund (due to their superior head-to-head goal difference).

Dortmund, who host Slavia Praha, must pick up more points than Inter to finish second. Simple.


Group G

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Strap yourselves in, people, it’s about to get wild in Group’s G and H.

Group leaders RB Leipzig are through and will clinch first place with a draw in Lyon on Tuesday night.

Zenit will go through if they beat Benfica and Lyon do not beat Leipzig, or if both games are drawn due to their head-to-head superiority over Lyon. A defeat for Lyon will see Zenit automatically through. 

The French side will reach the knockout stages if they beat Leipzig (when they would also clinch first place), or if they draw and Zenit lose to Benfica.

Benfica, however, are unable to finish in the top two. They’ll finish third if they beat Zenit by a scoreline better than 3-1 and Lyon don’t lose, or if they win and Lyon lose to Leipzig.

Blimey.


Group H

Valencia CF v Chelsea FC: Group H - UEFA Champions League

The group that looked the tightest on paper certainly panned out that way with Chelsea, Valencia and Ajax all still vying for the last 16.

Chelsea will go through if they beat Lille at Stamford Bridge, or if they draw and Valencia lose to Ajax. If they win and Ajax draw to Valencia, they’ll finish top with the Dutch giants second, while wins for Frank Lampard’s men as well as Valencia will see the Spanish outfit reach the summit with Chelsea in second (head-to-head superiority).

Essentially, if Valencia match Chelsea’s result on Tuesday night, they’ll be through.

Ajax, meanwhile, need just a point to secure safe passage to the knockout phase.

Lille, well, their only hope of qualification is if UEFA suddenly decide to make it eight points for a win on the final matchday. But, they’ll play a huge role in determining who goes through.


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Barcelona Put Off Potential Lautaro Martínez Deal by Inter’s €100m Asking Price

?Barcelona have been put off the signing of Inter striker Lautaro Martínez due to his €100m asking price, with the club’s recruitment team now looking elsewhere for a new centre forward.

Aside from Kylian Mbappé, the Argentina international is deemed to be the ideal successor for Luis Suárez in Catalonia. Barcelona have built up a profile on Martínez with scouting reports dating back to his early days at Racing Club de Avellaneda.

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But with Inter refusing to budge on their €100m valuation, ESPN report that Barcelona are now looking to send scouts elsewhere in Europe and South America to find a new striker that fits within their budget.

Neymar’s potential return to Barcelona is still on the table, so the club will be operating on a tight transfer budget in the search for Suárez’s successor.

Norwegian teenage sensation Erling Haaland has been mentioned by the club’s decision-makers following his breathtaking start to the season, but ESPN add that Barça instead want to sign someone who is a closer fit to Suárez’s profile.

While ESPN’s report discounts a move for Martínez, Diario Sport (via Sportsmole) boldly claims that Barcelona would be ready to pay the forward’s €100m asking price.

The Argentina international is currently in talks with Inter over a new long-term contract, and while negotiations have recently stalled, the Italian giants are not believed to be in a rush as his current deal runs until 2023.

Martínez’s agent, Beto Yaque, ?also recently suggested that it was only a matter of time before the 22-year-old put pen to paper on a new deal at San Siro.

Lautaro Martinez

Lautaro is very happy at Inter and he will soon renew his contract with the club; he doesn’t think of anything else,” Yaque said.

“If there are several teams on his tracks, he is positive at a professional level, because it means he is working well. But, today, he is purely linked to the Nerazzurri and is happy where he is.”


For more from Ben Carter, follow him on Twitter!

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Inter vs Barcelona Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

?Inter play host to Barcelona on Tuesday night aiming to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time since the 2011/12 season, but knowing they most likely need to beat their Catalan visitors to do so.

Antonio Conte’s side need to match or better Borussia Dortmund’s result against Slavia Prague to progress, as the Italian giants have a superior head-to-head record over BVB. However, with Dortmund clear favourites to beat Slavia Prague, it is expected that Nerazzurri will need to claim all three points on Tuesday evening.

Lionel Messi,Luis Suarez

Beating Barcelona may not be quite the insurmountable challenge it normally is, as Ernesto Valverde’s side have already qualified as Group F winners. With a tricky trip to Real Sociedad coming up, Barca may be tempted to rest some key players with qualification already in the bag.

Here is 90min’s preview of this gargantuan clash…


Where to Watch

When Is Kick Off?? ?Tuesday 10 December
?What Time Is Kick Off? ?20:00 (BST)
Where Is It Played? San Siro
?TV Channel/Live Stream? ?BT Sport ESPN
?Referee? ?Bjorn Kuipers

Team News

?Inter are still without the trio of ?Alexis Sanchez, Stefano Sensi and Nicolo Barella, causing Conte some selection headaches. Tuesday’s hosts will be hoping that Antonio Candreva passes a late fitness test, while Kwadwo Asamoah is available after returning from injury against Roma.?

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?Barcelona also have a number of key players sidelined, most notably Jordi Alba, ?Ousmane Dembele and Arthur, while Valverde has ?opted to rest Lionel Messi and Sergi Roberto. 

Predicted Lineups

?Inter Handanovic; Lazaro, Godin, De Vrij, Skriniar, Biraghi; Brozovic, Vecino, Valero; Lukaku, Martinez
?Barcelona ?Neto; Wague, Umtiti, Lenglet, Firpo; Vidal, Alena, Rakitic; Fati, Suarez, Griezmann

Head-to-Head Record

This will be the tenth clash between these two sides, Barcelona having won five to Inter’s one, and three draws between the pair.

Luis suarez,Diego Godin

A ?Luis Suarez-inspired Barca came out on top in the reverse fixture at Camp Nou, despite Inter playing very well for large periods during that 2-1 loss. However, Inter will feel confident of avoiding defeat as they have never lost a home European match to Barcelona, winning one and drawing three.?


Recent Form

Despite a disappointing goalless draw with Roma last weekend, Inter still lead the ?Serie A title race thanks to Juventus’ 3-1 defeat to Lazio. The Nerazzurri have won eight of their last 11 matches in all competitions and are two points clear of the Old Lady in the Italian top tier.

The form of Inter’s strike partnership is also noteworthy, with Lautaro Martinez and ?Romelu Lukaku having scored 24 goals between them in Serie A and the Champions League this campaign.

Lionel Messi

Despite consistent criticism this season, Barcelona are on a remarkable run of five straight victories, and the return to form and fitness of ?Lionel Messi has brought the La Liga leaders back to life.

Barca’s last match saw them comfortably dispatch of relegation candidates RCD Mallorca, winning 5-2 courtesy of a Messi hat-trick – a trio of goals which saw him overtake Cristiano Ronaldo with the ?most La Liga hat-tricks (35).

Here is both side’s last five results:

?Inter Barcelona?
?Inter 0-0 Roma (6/12) ?Barcelona 5-2 RCD Mallorca (7/12)
?Inter 2-1 SPAL (1/12) ?Atletico Madrid 0-1 Barcelona (1/12)
?Slavia Prague 1-3 Inter (27/11) ?Barcelona 3-1 Borussia Dortmund (27/11)
?Torino 0-3 Inter (23/11) ?Leganes 1-2 Barcelona (23/11)
?Inter 2-1 Hellas Verona (9/11) ?Barcelona 4-1 Celta Vigo (9/11)

Prediction

Conte may prioritise the Serie A crown over success in Europe, but qualifying for the last 16 of the ?Champions League would show just how far Inter have come under his tutelage.? With Barca likely to rest some first-team players, the hosts have a fabulous opportunity to pull off a historic European victory.

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-TORINO-INTER

However, regardless of team selection, Barca are blessed with quality from back to front. With the likes of Suarez, Antoine Griezmann and Ivan Rakitic, Valverde’s side have a great chance of getting a result and ending the group stages on a high.

Prediction: Inter 2-1 Barcelona


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