Antonio Conte is at risk of suffering another UEFA Champions League capitulation when Inter Milan make their way to Borussia Monchengladbach on Matchday 9 of the group campaign.
The Nerazzurri failed to make it past the first round of Europe’s premier contest in their first campaign under Conte, and a loss to Die Folen on Tuesday could end any hope of escaping Group B. Real Madrid travel to Shakhtar Donetsk in the pool’s other fixture desperate to redeem themselves following a disastrous defeat to the Ukrainians in their opening game.
Elsewhere in Group A, Bayern Munich will rest some key stars for the trip to Atletico Madrid having already secured top spot. However, Los Rojiblancos can seal second with a win if Red Bull Salzburg get a result at Lokomotiv Moscow.
Injury-hit Liverpool’s 2-0 defeat at home to Atalanta last week has prised open Group D, with the Reds now only two points clear of La Dea and Ajax. The Godenzonen travel to Anfield knowing three points could fire them to first, while Atalanta will keep watch as they host Midtjylland with their own chance of taking top spot in the pool ahead of the final group matchday.
Matters are considerably more relaxed for Group C leaders Manchester City, who are already assured of a place in the last 16 and will wrap up first if they beat Porto at the Estadio do Dragao. Third-place Olympiakos must beat Marseille in France if they’re to preserve any hope of progressing, with the Greek giants currently six points off the qualifying pace.
Visit UEFA.com to view updated group standings.
UCL Matchday 9 Schedule (All Times ET)
Tuesday, December 1
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Real Madrid, 12:55 p.m. - TUDN, Unimas
Lokomotiv Moscow vs. Red Bull Salzburg, 12:55 p.m. - Galavision
Atletico Madrid vs. Bayern Munich, 3 p.m. - TUDN, Unimas
Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Inter Milan, 3 p.m. - TUDNxtra
Marseille vs. Olympiakos, 3 p.m. - TUDNxtra
Porto vs. Manchester City, 3 p.m. - Galavision
Liverpool vs. Ajax, 3 p.m. - TUDNxtra
Atalanta vs. Midtjylland, 3 p.m. - TUDNxtra
UCL Matchday 9 Tune-In Information
TV: Galavision, TUDN, Unimas
Live Stream: fuboTV (watch for free)
Another European campaign hangs in the balance for an Inter side sitting bottom of Group B, and the fact they might have to hand Mönchengladbach their first loss in the competition doesn’t give the Italians a great deal of hope. On the plus side, Conte & Co. prepared for this clash by beating Sassuolo 3-0 on Saturday when Romelu Lukaku returned from injury as a late substitute:
Defeat at Borussia-Park could condemn the Nerazzurri to fourth and thus rule out any possibility of a future in the UEFA Europa League if Shakhtar manage to beat Real a second time this season. Inter will make do without suspended Arturo Vidal or the trio of Aleksandar Kolarov, Marcelo Brozovic and Daniele Padelli, each of whom have tested positive for COVID-19.
Inter have recently reverted to a more rigid approach—one historically suited to Conte—in a bid to improve results, but Italian soccer writer Carlo Garganese suggested it’s too little, too late:
Group B is where a lot of attention will center in these last days of the pool phase, made all the more interesting by Real’s struggle for consistency this season.
Los Blancos have beaten Inter in back-to-back meetings prior to Matchday 9, but those account for the only victories in their last five outings across all competitions. Real have been ravaged by injuries and remain without Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal or Federico Valverde, while Eden Hazard is back on the treatment table after lasting less than 30 minutes in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Alaves:
That being said, a third consecutive Champions League win could pull Real to the Group B summit for the first time this season provided Monchengladbach drop points at home.
It’s not often a tie between two titans like Atletico and Bayern can be considered a dead-rubber, though there’s still plenty for the former to fight for given second in Group A isn’t theirs just yet.
A win would cement the runners-up spot for the Spaniards if Salzburg snag a result at Lokomotiv, made all the simpler with Bayern deciding to rest three star names, via DW Sports:
The Uruguayan duo of Luis Suarez and Lucas Torreira are both still absent for Tuesday’s hosts due to coronavirus, while Diego Costa, Sime Vrsaljko and Manuel Sanchez are out injured.
Simeone has masterminded two wins in five meetings with Bayern—both at Atletico’s former home, the Vicente Calderon—but will look to establish a new fortress mentality against this foe in their first meeting at the Wanda Metropolitano, with Die Roten still yet to drop a point in the pool.
Ajax have even more motivation to get a result against their own pace-setter in Group D, Liverpool, who have been stretched thin of late and have only one win in their last four.
Michael Bell detailed the Godenzonen’s comfort travelling on the continent in recent years, and Liverpool’s extensive list of absences in defense and midfield could leave them lacking:
It’s a complicated clash considering Ajax are undefeated in eight (including six wins) and have averaged more than four goals per game in that time. Granted, 13 of those 38 goals came in a historic thrashing of VVV-Venlo, but the point stands Ajax are playing some of the best soccer in Europe and will be a threat on Merseyside.
Pep Guardiola celebrated his new contract in style on Saturday when City sauntered to a 5-0 win over Burnley, and a repeat result in Porto would cap off a celebratory week for the Catalan. The Citizens came back from an early setback to beat the Dragons 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium in October, meaning even a draw on Matchday 8 will guarantee they finish first in Group C.
Olympiacos sit third for the time being but can hold out hope of advancing if they beat Marseille and Porto lose, which would set up a final-day charge for second when they host Sergio Conceicao’s men.