Champions League Group B
Inter Milan v PSV Eindhoven
The other match in this group will probably ultimately mean more. Tottenham Hotspur currently leads Inter Milan via the tiebreaker, but it is more likely that Inter will end up with more points as they have the easier match up. Nevertheless, Inter cannot be content with a draw – or worse – or they could find themselves heading off to Europa League. PSV Eindhoven, on the other hand, has long been eliminated, and will be seeking a moral victory on the road.
The match kicks off from Italy at 9pm CET, or 3pm EST.
Inter is lucky in that they get to host this matchup, though they didn’t have any trouble winning in Eindhoven on Matchday 2. But playing at San Siro should help them clinch the win they need to increase their chances of advancing. They’ve had a home pitch advantage at San Siro thus far during their league season, with a 5-1-1 record (though the loss was to Parma, who is currently ranked 10th in Serie A). Either way, they should find success at home in this one.
As mentioned, they are currently tied with Tottenham in the group, though they trail on the tie-breaker due to head-to-head away goals. Therefore, they will only advance to the knockout phase if they finish with more points than the Spurs. They should not rely on Barcelona to take care of their business for them; Barca could be sending their third team to the pitch since they have already clinched first place in the group for all we know (they probably won’t, but Messi will likely only play one half).
They entered the group stage of the tournament as the fourth place finisher from Serie A in Italy, and this season has been much the same for I Nerazzurri. They currently sit in third position in the league, three points ahead of Milan and six behind Napoli. Undefeated Juventus leads Serie A at the moment with 43 points, 14 more than Inter. There is still a long ways to go in the season, but we should expect Inter to make a return trip to champions League next season. But that doesn’t mean they want to continue on this year.
Unlike Inter, PSV Eindhoven had to go through qualification to reach the group stage of Champions League, albeit they were lucky enough to enter during the playoff round, where they defeated Belarusian club BATE Borisov to advance to group stage.
To say they’ve looked like a qualifier would be an appropriate statement. They have only a 2-2 draw versus Tottenham on Matchday 3, and they’ve been all but eliminated since they lost the rematch two weeks later. They can spoiler in this one, however, should they be able to find some success in Italy and force Inter over to Europa League.
PSV qualified for the Champions League after finishing first in the Eredivisie last season over Ajax (who has already clinched a spot in the knockout stage). Through 15 matches in league play this season, they are again in first place, losing only once thus far (on the road at third-place Feyenoord). They are two points ahead of Ajax, and have yielded only 7 goals all season, which has helped them end up with a +46 goal differential. They truly are the class of Dutch football… which doesn’t much help them in Champions League.
What to expect
The last time these clubs met, Inter won 2-1 in Eindhoven, coming back from an early 1-0 deficit to win. Prior to that matchup, these two clubs had met only twice prior: in the group stage of the 2007-08 Champions League. Inter won both those matchups as well, so despite the short history, they may have the upper hand.
Will pride be enough for PSV to pull this one out? Will Inter spend the match watching the scoreboard for results in the other match? According to FiveThirtyEight, Inter will have a favorable result 81% of the time, and I tend to agree with that assessment. Inter will pull this one out, and advance when Tottenham loses to Barca in the other group match.
Until next time…