Champions League preview: Bayern Munich v Inter Milan

Bayern Munich and Inter Milan meet in a Champions League round of 16 tie at the San Siro on Wednesday in a rematch of the 2010 final.

Italian powerhous Inter got the better of their German opponents at the Santiago Bernabeu on May 22, winning 2-0 to secure a treble of European Cup, Serie A title and Coppa Italia.

Bayern were forced to settle for a runners-up medal in Madrid and consoled themselves with a domestic double of Bundesliga championship and DFB Pokal Cup.

But both sides have slipped considerably since their all-conquering form of last season.

Inter lost coach Jose Mourinho to Real Madrid just days after he guided them to their third European crown.

His replacement, Rafael Benitez, lasted just seven months before being shown the door as a consequence of disappointing results at home and abroad.

Brazilian Leonardo, brought in on an 18-month contract, has orchestrated a minor revival to see the team rise to third in the league.

But with the players struggling to replicate their impressive performances of the previous campaign, Inter appear unlikely to become the first team to retain the European Cup since 1990.

Bayern have also endured a disappointing season to date.

Dutch coach Louis van Gaal and the bulk of last year’s squad remain at the Allianz Arena, but they made an awful start to the Bundesliga season and allowed Borussia Dortmund to race into a commanding lead.

With Dortmund 13 points ahead already, Bayern appear destined to surrender their crown.

In a rare piece of good news, dangerous wingers Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben – the duo who fired Bayern to success in 2009/10 – finally took to the pitch together for the first time this season two weeks ago and were on the field again in a 3-1 win over Mainz on Sunday.

Inter, meanwhile, could only scrape a 1-0 win at home to mid-table Cagliari.

Centre-back Lucio and playmaker Wesley Sneijder have been rushed back into action by Inter for the key match.

Bayern forward Mario Gomez should recover from an ankle injury, but the departure of Martin Demichelis to Malaga in January has left a hole in the centre of defence.

Ukraine midfielder Anatoliy Tymoschuk has filled in with mixed results and may be targeted by Inter forward Samuel Eto’o.

Diego Milito, scorer of both goals in the final, is injured, while Giampaolo Pazzini is ineligible, meaning out-of-form Goran Pandev could start alongside Eto’o.

 


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