Dynamo Kiev v Inter Milan, Champions League, November 4, 2009
Inter Milan are inflicted with a Jekyll & Hyde syndrome.
With just three points after three games in the Champions League, Internazionale are no longer one of the favourites to qualify from Group F (Inter are 11/4 to win the group), especially taking into account their trip to the Ukraine followed by the daunting outing to the Nou Camp in a few weeks time. And then there is the scary stat – Inter have not won in eight games in Europe. That feels less like a blip and more like a repetition of history as Inter, who last won the tournament way back in 1965, look to be heading for yet another disappointing European adventure.
The glaring problem though for the black and blues is that the Special One, Jose Mourinho, was brought to Milan specifically to deliver what his predecessor, Roberto Mancini, could not. Although Inter hold a whopping seven point lead in Serie A, domestic form could count for nothing if Inter fail to get the side beyond the first hurdle.
Complicating matters for the Nerazzurri are a spate of injuries ravaging their squad. Sulley Muntari is the latest to be hurt, the Ghanaian midfielder sustaining a muscular injury in the 2-nil win at Livorno last weekend and is doubtful. Further, main-man Wesley Sneijder and Thiago Motta are still sidelined with respective thigh injuries.
On the flipside, firebrand Mario Balotelli (19/2 to score first & Inter win) is available for selection after seeing out his Champions League suspension, and the young Italian forward will partner Samuel Eto’o (15/2 to score a brace) in the Inter attack. Inter could also offer more attacking threats as Diego Milito (6/4 to score) could be drafted in to a three-pronged attack, while Dejan Stankovic (5/1 to score & Inter win) will be looking to increase his excellent goal-scoring run of late from midfield.
At the back, Julio Cesar will continue to marshall the Inter goal, while attack-minded defenders Maicon and Lucio should lead the Inter backline. (Inter are 6/4 to keep a clean sheet)
Facing them there will be a familiar foe in Dynamo striker Andriy Shevchenko (15/8 to score), the scorer of 14 career goals against the Nerazzurri. Shevchenko is no longer the same player that used to grace the San Siro during his period with AC Milan, but following his disastrous period with Chelsea the Ukrainian legend appears to be experiencing a final hurrah back in his homeland.
Shevchenko is not Kiev’s main threat though – that honour is reserved for the dangerous Artem Milevskiy (2/1 to score) who, at 24-years-old, is the future of Ukrainian football. With seven goals and six assists in just 14 matches this season, the Ukrainian “Zlatan Ibrahimovic” can definitely cause Inter problems.
Realistically, Inter should be beating sides like Dynamo with relative ease, and another Champions League failure will further legitimate questions about whether Mourinho is the man to lead the team to Champions League glory. Even if Inter were to fail though, sacking Mourinho is not a serious option, particularly because terminating his contract would prove far to costly for President Massimo Moratti. However, Inter are desperate not to face yet another crisis situation so early on in the season, and a win at all costs is the order of the day.
101gg predicts: Dynamo Kiev 1 – Inter Milan 1 (11/2)
Full match odds here.