It all comes down to this one for Inter Milan as their bid to edge Barcelona to a runner-up spot in Champions League Group C depends on beating Viktoria Plzen at Giuseppe Meazza.
Simone Inzaghi’s men needed one of the luckiest goals you’d see to beat Fiorentina 4-3 at the weekend, thereby taking their unbeaten streak in all competitions to five matches (W4, D1).
The only flaw in that sequence was a heroic 3-3 stalemate against Barcelona at the Spotify Camp Nou in the previous Champions League round, which put the Nerazzurri on the cusp of progression.
Since Inter boast a superior head-to-head record over the Catalan giants, a victory over Plzen, a side they defeated 2-0 in the reverse fixture in the Czech Republic, would seal the deal for the Italians.
Yet a failed attempt to live up to their status as odds-on pre-match favourites would force last season’s Serie A runners-up to seek all three points against runaway Group C winners Bayern Munich in the final round.
There’s no doubt that Inzaghi would want to get the job done here and now, with section minnows Plzen due to arrive at Meazza on Wednesday night.
No wonder the Czech Republic champions head into matchday five without a single point to their name, as they’ve found themselves stuck in the so-called ‘group of death.’
If there’s any positive head coach Michal Bilek can draw on, it’s Plzen’s eye-catching showing in a 4-2 home defeat to Bayern last time out, which saw them score as many goals as in their opening three Group C outings.
With nothing but pride left to play for, Plzen can still have a massive impact on the second-place run-in in this section if they find a way to defy the odds in Lombardia.
Inter have fared well at Meazza this season, picking up five victories from seven competitive home games (L2), with four of those wins yielding a clean sheet.
That bodes well for the Nerazzurri’s effort to extend a three-game unbeaten run against Czech clubs in the Champions League (W2, D1) and in turn claim their place in the knock-out stages with a game to spare.
Having lost just two of their last nine fixtures in the Champions League group phase (W5, D2), Inzaghi’s men have every reason for optimism ahead of the most significant European encounter in the Italian manager’s career.
Plzen’s defensive woes, which have seen them concede at least two goals in all four Champions League matches this season, at an average of four per game, require an immediate improvement.
But not even that may prove sufficient to help them improve an abysmal 68% loss ratio across their 22 Champions League outings (15/22) and become only the second Czech side to beat Inter in European football.
Adding to this sentiment, the visitors have suffered three defeats on their four European visits to Italy (W1), while they’ve been winless in three of their four competitive away fixtures ahead of this trip (D1, L2).
Inter Milan vs Viktoria Plzen Potential Line-ups
Inter Milan (3-5-2): Andre Onana; Milan Skriniar, De Vrij, Alessandro Bastoni; Denzel Dumfries, Nicolo Barella, Hakan Calhanoglu, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Robin Gosens; Lautaro Martinez, Edin Dzeko.
Viktoria Plzen (4-2-3-1): Jindrich Stanek; Milan Havel, Lukas Hejda, Ludek Pernica, Vaclav Jemelka; Lukas Kalvach, Pavel Bucha; Jan Kopic, Adam Vlkanova, Jhon Mosquera; Tomas Chory.
How to Watch?
Inter vs Plzen, alongside all other matches in Europe’s most prestigious club competition this season, is available to watch online via Champions League live streams.
And if you are interested in attending a future UCL game, see our Champions League tickets page for more information.
Inter Milan vs Viktoria Plzen Prediction
A substantial gulf in class between the sides was plain for everyone to see in the reverse fixture and we expect Inter to stroll to another routine victory.
Inter Milan 3-1 Viktoria Plzen
- Who is Liverpool’s most important player – Van Dijk or Salah?
- Postecoglou confirms huge injury blow for Tottenham ahead of Crystal Palace clash
- FA Cup quarter-final TV picks confirmed, ITV will show headline fixture between Man Utd and Liverpool
- Preview: Man City vs Man United – stats, team news, line-ups
- Crystal Palace shareholder John Textor slams Premier League financial rules
- Conor Gallagher determined to stay at Chelsea despite contract stand-off and Tottenham interest
- Eric Dier makes permanent switch to Bayern Munich from Tottenham
- Premier League manager of the month nominees for February revealed
- Paul Pogba receives four-year ban for doping
- Man United fans in uproar as Old Trafford relocation plans spark outrage