Champions League Group F preview: Barca takes on Inter sans Messi, Dortmund eyes crucial win

Barcelona, which is already through to the round of 16 of the Champions League, faces Inter while Dortmund needs to beat Slavia Prague to remain in contention.

Barcelona is already through to the knockout rounds after a convincing 3-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund last time out.   -  Getty Images

Barcelona star Lionel Messi will not make the trip to the San Siro for Tuesday's final Champions League group game, but Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte still expects a tough test as his side bids to reach the last 16.

Barcelona is already through to the knockout rounds after six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi scored in a convincing 3-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund last time out.

The Argentine has been left out of the 20-man squad along with midfielder Sergi Roberto. Coach Ernesto Valverde's side will also be without injured the Ousmane Dembele, Jordi Alba, Nelson Semedo and Gerard Pique.

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The Catalans are assured of finishing top of Group F as they have 11 points from five games.

Inter is second, level on seven points with Borussia Dortmund which hosts Slavia Prague, but the Italians will qualify if the two clubs finish on the same number of points due to their superior head-to-head goal difference.

“We're talking about Barcelona, one of the strongest teams in the world with a very strong squad of 20 to 22 players,” said Conte. “Barcelona remain one of the four or five teams that every year sets out to win the competition.

“For their part, they are calm in first place and will play without pressure and can create problems. We have to give everything knowing that it might not be enough.”

Barcelona beat Inter 2-1 at Camp Nou last time out, but Conte believes his team have grown since then as it sits top of Serie A.

“In Barcelona we played a very good game with great courage and personality, but the defeat came thanks to their great players. It's been a while, we've grown in some respects. If we think we won't suffer when Barca are in possession, we would be fools. When we get the possession, we will try to put them in difficulty.”

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The former Chelsea and Juventus coach hopes a capacity San Siro crowd can pull the three-time former European champion through.

“Our stadium can give us a lot of positive energy and I am sure it will. We all want to get to the last 16, it would be a prestigious goal.”

Dortmund needs to better Inter's result

Borussia Dortmund takes on Slavia Prague needing to better the result of Inter Milan in order to progress through to the knockout stages. For Slavia, the trip to the Westfalenstadion is a dead rubber as it cannot move off bottom spot.

After a three-match winless streak during November, back-to-back victories over Hertha Berlin and Fortuna Dusseldorf have moved Dortmund into third position in the Bundesliga, and keeping Lucien Favre in the job for now.

Despite criticism about his mentality, Jadon Sancho has played an important part in the team's turnaround by scoring three goals from his last two outings.

As for Slavia, finishing bottom of the group has come as no great surprise but it deserves plenty of credit for how it has performed. Conceding a last-gasp equaliser to Inter on matchday one came as a huge blow, and it effectively put the Czech team on the backfoot.

Dortmund was the only team to convincingly defeat Slavia in the group and another win, aided by Barcelona's result against Inter, will see the German side through to the next round.

(With inputs from AFP)

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