Champions League Group F: Barca faces Dortmund test, Inter takes on Slavia Prague

Table-topper Barcelona hosts Borussia Dortmund, while Inter will fight to remain in contention for a top-two finish when it takes in Slavia Prague in Group F of the Champions League.

Griezmann's form has been a cause for Barcelona and coach Valverde.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Barcelona faces Borussia Dortmund at Camp Nou in the Champions League on Wednesday, on the back of a goalless draw at home to Slavia Prague earlier this month that means qualification from Group F is far from guaranteed.

Anything other than a win is likely to leave the side needing at least a point against Inter Milan at the San Siro in a fortnight’s time.

Barcelona fielded its fabulous four of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Antoinne Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele against Leganes in the La Liga on Saturday for the first time this season but needed substitute Arturo Vidal to score the match winner.

Ernesto Valverde would appear unlikely to throw Messi, Suarez, Griezmann and Dembele together again for Dortmund, which will offer a sterner test than bottom-club Leganes.

But his eagerness to roll the dice last weekend with four forwards, and Messi in a deeper role, suggests he recognises the lack of creativity and has begun to reach for more daring solutions.

In defence, Valverde might have to be imaginative too. Jordi Alba is out with a hamstring strain while Nelson Semedo and Clement Lenglet are both struggling with calf problems.

Gerard Pique is also missing as he serves a one-match ban, meaning there could be a place for Samuel Umtiti, who has made only three appearances this season.

And another worrying aspect for Barca is Griezmann's form. When the Frenchman arrived last summer for 120 million euros from Atletico Madrid, many wondered where the he would fit into Barca's stacked front line, which would have swelled further had Paris Saint-Germain come to terms over a deal for Neymar.

Gerard Pique has said key players were even prepared to alter their contracts to facilitate Neymar’s arrival and while Messi has dismissed talk of a rift with Griezmann, doubts persist.

Many expected Griezmann to reinforce and eventually replace Suarez down the middle but Valverde has been curiously reluctant to field him in the position closest to the one he thrived in for Atletico last season.

With Messi indispensable on the right, Griezmann has been used most often on the left, taking the place of Dembele when he has struggled for fitness or form, which in the case of the mercurial 22-year-old has tended to be often.

But Griezmann has not looked comfortable, despite the occasional glimpses of excellence such as the two goals he scored against Real Betis in August, which looked set to give lift-off to his Barcelona career. Instead, too many matches that have passed him by.

Dortmund, on the other hand, will pin its hopes on goal-scoring defender Achraf Hakimi to be its Champions League “weapon” and shoot down Barcelona on Wednesday and relieve pressure on under-fire coach Lucien Favre.

With two group games left, a last 16 place is still firmly in the hands of the German side, which sits a point behind Barcelona, thanks to Hakimi’s two goals in a stunning 3-2 home win over Inter Milan three weeks ago.

However, dreadful Bundesliga results in the meantime leave Favre needing a good performance in Barcelona to safeguard his job, putting the onus on Madrid-born Hakimi and his team-mates to turn things around at Barcelona’s Camp Nou.

- Inter fighting for survival, takes on winless Slavia Praha -

Inter Milan will look to remain in contention for a top-two finish when it faces Slavia Prague. The Italian side comes into the tie after losing to Dortmund last week, while Slavia Prague creditably played out a draw with Barca.

A win would see Inter jump to seven points, which will bring it on level terms with Dortmund if the German club fails to pick up points against Barca. Slavia Prague has two points from four games, which came from two draws and continues to look for its first win of the campaign.

The two sides played out a 1-1 draw the last time they clashes in September, when Nicolo Barella struck an injury time equaliser for the Serie A club.

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