herald

Friday 17 August 2018

Bayern on Inter revenge mission after final loss

The last time Inter Milan and Bayern Munich met, they were both 90 minutes away from the perfect season. This time they are just looking for salvation.

The Italian and German champions will contest the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie tonight in a repeat of last year's final.

Inter's 2-0 victory at the Bernabeu that night gave them the treble of Serie A, Italian Cup and Champions League while Bayern were left with the Bundesliga and German Cup double.

Nine months on, both teams are struggling to live up to such high standards.

Bayern's hopes of retaining the Bundesliga title look all but over having dropped 13 points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund.

"It's pretty much impossible for Bayern to win the Bundesliga this season in my opinion," forward Arjen Robben said.

"I'd say that we have more chance of winning the Champions League than scooping the domestic title."

Inter, who fired Jose Mourinho's replacement Rafael Benitez in December, are third in Serie A, five points behind leaders AC Milan, although they have looked much brighter in attack since ex-AC Milan boss Leonardo took over.

Inter will be missing Argentine forward Diego Milito, who is out with a hamstring strain. Milito, the scorer of both goals in the final, is likely to be replaced by Goran Pandev, with Samuel Eto'o the other forward.

Wesley Sneijder and Lucio missed Saturday's 1-0 league win over Cagliari with knocks but are expected to return, even if the Dutchman will not be 100pc fit after a groin problem.

Apart from a long-term injury to forward Ivica Olic, Bayern are at full strength, with Franck Ribery and Robben both available.

Flamboyant coach Louis van Gaal, however, refused to accept that his team are reliant on the duo, whose injuries were blamed for Bayern's poor first half to the season.

"We have lots of good players and we need them all to play well," Van Gaal said. Striker Mario Gomez, the Bundesliga's top scorer this season, said he was fit despite suffering an ankle injury in the previous league match.

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