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Champions League preview : Inter Milan and Atlético Madrid face off in a battle of history and form

Inter Milan, last season’s Champions League runners-up, continue their quest for a better result this year with a tricky last-16 tie against Atlético Madrid, three-time finalists of the competition who are on a ten-match unbeaten run (9 wins, 1 draw).

The Serie A leaders, who just beat Salernitana (4-0) on Friday, should be full of confidence.

This is especially true after an undefeated group stage (3 wins, 3 draws).

The Nerazzurri can take inspiration from their recent home performances in this competition as they have not lost a Champions League home game since September 2022 (6 wins, 2 draws).

However, they have only won one of their last six home Champions League matches against Spanish opponents (2 draws, 3 defeats).

This sets the stage for a fascinating reunion on the benches between Simone Inzaghi and Diego Simeone, two former teammates at Lazio.

Atlético coach Simeone spoke about Inter before the match, praising the “character of the team,” while expecting a difficult encounter.

This is probably far from what his players experienced on Saturday when they thrashed Las Palmas 5-0!

This victory ended a three-match winless streak in all competitions (1 draw, 2 defeats) and perhaps eased Simeone’s concerns about Inter having one less day’s rest before this clash.

The Colchoneros, who have already drawn with an Italian side in the group stage (1-1 with Lazio) and beaten AC Milan at San Siro in 2021/22, can say that they have history on their side before this first ever duel that will not take place on neutral ground.

But Simeone has had to be patient to get another chance to beat Inter as a coach. He lost his one and only previous meeting 3-1 in May 2011 when he was in charge of Catania!

Players to watch: Lautaro Martínez’s two Champions League goals for Inter this year have been scored after the 80th minute, as have two of his last four official goals. Atlético’s Marcos Llorente put Las Palmas to the sword by scoring twice in the first 20 minutes on Saturday. However, three of his four goals scored before that this season have been scored after the 85th minute.

Hot stat: Atlético have lost their last two European matches refereed by István Kovács, each time without scoring.

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