Champions League Group F: Inter faces Dortmund test, Barcelona travels to Prague

Inter Milan is winless in its first two matches of the Champions League campaign and will host its Group F leader Borussia Dortmund.

'Gentle giant': Conte feels his striker Lukaku has regained his goalscoring touch after a difficult season at Manchester United.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan side hosts Group F leader Borussia Dortmund in its third Champions League game on Wednesday having been held 1-1 to Slavia Prague and losing 2-1 to Barcelona.

Conte has made his “gentle giant” Romelu Lukaku the focus of Inter Milan’s attack this season where the striker has found his scoring touch again after leaving Manchester United.

The Belgian got off the mark in his first league match against Lecce and has since scored five goals in eight Serie A games since departing Old Trafford under a cloud last summer.

The 26-year-old scored a brace last weekend against Sassuolo to keep Inter second in Serie A, one point behind defending champion Juventus, after eight games.

It followed his double as Belgium sealed its Euro 2020 ticket, extending his national all-time record to 51 goals in 83 appearances.

Lukaku missed the trip to Spain with a thigh injury.

READ| Reus to miss Inter vs Dortmund Champions League clash

Inter gambled big by investing around 80 million euros (USD 89 million) in Lukaku to restore the pairing he composed under the Red Devils’ jersey with Alexis Sanchez.

Chilean Sanchez made just four appearances for Inter before being ruled out for three months with an ankle injury.

Borussia Dortmund flew to Italy without captain Marco Reus and striker Paco Alcacer but previously suspended England winger Jadon Sancho and injured goalkeeper Roman Burki were included.

The Bundesliga club said the 30-year-old playmaker Reus missed Tuesday's flight because he is “still in poor health” after scoring the winner in Saturday's 1-0 victory over Bundesliga leaders Moenchengladbach despite suffering with flu.

Alcacer, who like Reus has scored five league goals so far this season, is also out due to the persistent calf injury which has sidelined him since September 28.

The Germans top Group F ahead of Barcelona on goal difference after holding the Spanish giant to a goalless draw in Dortmund in their opening game and then winning 2-0 at bottom side Slavia Prague.

Inter, third in the table, drew at home to Slavia and lost 2-1 to Barca a fortnight ago at the Camp Nou in its two previous games.

- BARCA SEEKS SIXTH STRAIGHT WIN -

Barcelona will be looking to extend its five-game winning streak when it takes on Champions League underdogs Slavia Prague in the teams' first-ever encounter in Prague on Wednesday.

Brushing aside political turmoil around the side, Ernesto Valverde's men eased past Eibar 3-0 away on Saturday with goals from Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann.

Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann scored in Barca's 3-0 win over Eibar.

 

Their fifth straight competitive win -- including a 2-1 victory over Inter Milan in their last Champions League game -- took them to the top of La Liga a point ahead of Real Madrid.

In a much calmer Prague, reigning Czech champion Slavia came back from a goal down to see off minnows Pribram 3-1 on Saturday to secure a six-point lead in the Czech top flight.

With two games played, Barcelona is second in the Champions League Group F with four points following the Milan win and a goalless draw with Dortmund.

Slavia sits at the bottom with a single point after holding Inter to a 1-1 draw in Milan and a subsequent 2-0 loss to Dortmund at home.

Barcelona relished its attacking form after the Eibar clash, giving Slavia a cause for concern.

Tomas Soucek, Slavia's captain, hailed Barca's “three unbelievable forwards” Suarez, Messi and Griezmann.

“It's funny to think that we'll swap the pennants with Messi and play against all these players,” he said.

Barcelona, which took a day off Sunday before resuming training on Monday, will miss Sergi Roberto, who hurt his left knee at Eibar.

Gerard Pique is likely to return to the team following a ban.

  Dugout videos