Xavi will not be on a revenge mission when Barcelona face Inter in a "very important" Champions League showdown at San Siro on Tuesday.

Head coach Xavi was in the Barca side knocked out of the Champions League by Inter at the semi-final stage in 2010.

The Blaugrana were beaten 3-1 in the first leg in Milan and failed to overturn that deficit, crashing out after winning 1-0 at Camp Nou against Jose Mourinho's men, who went on to lift the trophy.

Xavi returns to San Siro with the two sides both having picked up three points from their opening two Group C games, with Barca beaten 2-0 at leaders Bayern Munich last month.

And the former Spain midfielder is motivated by the prospect of qualifying for the last 16 rather than having a score to settle.

He said: "I have no feeling of [wanting] revenge. I come here as a coach this time. I remember that we had to travel by bus [to Milan] because of the volcano, but they were a great team.

"It was difficult for us in the first leg. We lost it here. It was a controversial tie, but this is how it is. It's a bitter memory for us, unfortunately."

Inter boss Simone Inzaghi is under pressure with his side ninth in Serie A following back-to-back defeats to Udinese and Roma.

But Xavi is not reading anything into the Nerazzurri's poor form, as he knows they have the quality to turn things around.

"It's not significant," he said. "It's Inter, a very strong team. They have a different system to anything we've come across so far.

"They play with two strikers, something you don't see too much in Spain. They're a tough opponent, with good dynamics, but that has to be shown."

Xavi added: "I have it quite clear. Despite the size of the rival, we are clear that we want to dominate. It is an important rival. It is the Champions League. It is not a definitive match, but it is very important for the future of the group."

Inter have won just two of their 14 European matches against Barcelona, a 2-1 victory in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in January 1970 and that 3-1 Champions League triumph in April 2010.

However, Barca's only two away wins against the Nerazzurri came 60 years apart, winning 4-2 in the Fairs Cup in September 1959 and 2-1 in the Champions League in December 2019.

Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi believes his team need to play with "aggression and determination" against Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Inzaghi is under fire after a run that has seen Inter lose four of their last six in all competitions, with a 2-1 home defeat to Roma at the weekend leaving the Nerazzurri ninth in Serie A, already eight points behind joint-leaders Napoli and Atalanta.

And Tuesday's match will see them host a Barcelona side in red-hot form, top of LaLiga and yet to lose a league match this season under the leadership of former midfielder Xavi.

In his pre-match press conference, Inzaghi outlined just how tough a task the game was going to be, while explaining how his team need to play at the San Siro if they are to get a result.

"Tomorrow is a great opportunity, knowing that we meet a very strong team, probably one of the best in Europe," Inzaghi told reporters.

"It is a complete, strong team with a lot of quality. They know how to do everything, they have pressing and ball recovery. It is a team that knows how to do everything in possession and non-possession.

"Barcelona are a very strong team, complete in all departments. They have a lot of quality, plus they have [Robert] Lewandowski.

"We will have to play a game of aggression and determination."

Inzaghi also had positive news about striker Lautaro Martinez's availability for the fixture, adding: "This morning Lautaro made an exam where no injury was evident.

"He finished the game [against Roma] fatigued, today he will do a partial training and we will see what his condition will be."

Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi has conceded his position is under threat following an "underserved defeat" against Roma.

Jose Mourinho's side came back from behind to increase the pressure upon the Inter boss, whose side sit eight points behind early pacesetters Napoli in the Serie A standings.

The loss brought an end to a streak of seven wins in a row for Inter at San Siro in the league but, despite the result, Inzaghi believes the performance was the finest they have shown this season.

"It is an absolutely undeserved defeat. It was our best game of the season and we come out with a result that burns and hurts," he told DAZN.

"We have to do more – at this moment we're not doing enough. We hit the crossbar, our goalkeeper did not make saves. As a coach, I had a great response from the players. I'm sorry to lose in front of the fans who supported us."

The loss was the second in a row for Inter in Serie A, with Inzaghi's side also losing three of their past four, and he has conceded his position is at threat.

"Am I at risk? Coaches always are, in every game and every week. We need to work more," he added.

"Defeats never bring serenity but tonight, I saw my Inter again, the one that won two trophies. With work, we have to get out of this moment."

Inter have no time to lick their wounds, as they face a tough test in the Champions League against Barcelona on Tuesday – a game in which Inzaghi does not expect injured striker Romelu Lukaku to be available.

"On Lukaku I'm not confident for the Champions League and against Sassuolo," Inzaghi said. "We hope to have him back in a short time because he is working well."

Chris Smalling's header saw Roma come from behind to beat Inter in Serie A for the first time in over five years.

Federico Dimarco gave Inter a first half lead at San Siro, but Paulo Dybala equalised against the side he was heavily rumoured to join before he completed a move to Roma.

Hakan Calhanoglu struck the crossbar with a ferocious free-kick in the second period, before Smalling scored the winning goal to inflict more misery upon Simone Inzaghi's side.

Inter have now lost back-to-back Serie A matches and three of their last four, drifting eight points behind early pacesetters Napoli.

Edin Dzeko saw an early attempt, which would have been his 100th Serie A goal, disallowed for offside but Dimarco broke the deadlock on the half hour mark, teeing Nicolo Barella's threaded pass into the bottom corner to take the lead with an effort Rui Patricio will feel he should have done better with.

The lead lasted less than 10 minutes though, Dybala volleying home Leonardo Spinazzola's cross past Samir Handanovic to secure his fourth Serie A goal of the season.

A timid start to the second period saw few opportunities but Calhanoglu was inches away from pushing Inter ahead again, firing a free kick off the frame of the goal shortly after the hour mark with Patricio stranded.

15 minutes later, the visitors scored their winner as Smalling found space to head Lorenzo Pellegrini's free-kick home with ease – a VAR check showing the defender was not offside and instead the beneficiary of lacklustre marking.

Juventus have reportedly made contact with Christian Pulisic's camp as they begin the process of putting together a January offer for the out-of-favour Chelsea winger.

Pulisic, 24, has only started one game this season in all club competitions, and he was subbed off in the 60th minute. He also has made five appearances as a substitute, but the longest has lasted 26 minutes.

The United States international, who was signed from Borussia Dortmund for a £58million fee in January 2019, now finds himself on the outside looking in, and long-time admirers Juventus are seeking to capitalise on the potentially depreciated asset.

 

TOP STORY – JUVENTUS CONTACT PULISIC ABOUT SERIE A MOVE

According to Calciomercato, Pulisic has been "very fond of the Juventus management for some time" and he plans on leaving at the end of the season when he has one year remaining on his contract and more leverage.

While Pulisic may wish to see out the remainder of the season and give things a go with new boss Graham Potter, Chelsea are said to have set his price at a reasonable figure of £31m. If the Italian side view that as a fair price, and if Pulisic has not broken into a starting role by January, things could progress quicker than anticipated.

However, further Calciomercato reports claiming Juventus are eyeing moves for defenders Benoit Badiashile from Monaco and Evan Ndicka from Eintracht Frankfurt at the end of the campaign could imply they do not have the necessary funds to make any serious additions mid-season.

 

ROUND-UP

– According to iNews, Newcastle United are considering a £50m bid for Shaktar Donetsk's rising 21-year-old winger Mykhalo Mudryk

– Marca is claiming Real Madrid's "main target" at the end of the season will be Borussia Dortmund's prized English midfielder Jude Bellingham.

– Corriere dello Sport is reporting Chelsea plan to increase their previous offer of £44.5m for 26-year-old Inter defender Denzel Dumfries, and would be willing to loan him back to the Italian club for the remainder of the season if they can come to an agreement in January.

– With Manchester United reportedly ready to move on from goalkeeper David de Gea, Football Insider states they are monitoring Aston Villa's Emiliano Martinez as a replacement.

– RAC1 claims Real Madrid's Marco Asensio has already signed a preliminary contract with rivals Barcelona, with his Madrid contract set to expire at the end of this season.

Inter midfielder Marcelo Brozovic is facing a spell on the sidelines after suffering a thigh injury during Croatia's win over Austria.

Brozovic was withdrawn just 18 minutes into the 3-1 Nations League victory at Ernst Happel Stadion on Sunday.

The Croatian Football Federation on Monday confirmed the 29-year-old sustained a partial rupture of his left thigh and is expected to be out for several weeks.

A statement from the Federation said: "The Croatian national team midfielder, Marcelo Brozovic, underwent an MRI examination today at the Special Hospital of St. Katarina, after exiting due to an injury in the match against Austria.

"The results of the MRI showed a partial tear in the left thigh flexor, so Brozovic is expected to rest for several weeks.

"Further treatment will be taken in charged by the competent Inter doctors, who will also provide a precise recovery prognosis, and the medical service of the Croatian national team will be in constant contact with them."

The loss of Brozovic is a blow for Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi ahead as the Nerazzurri prepare to return to Serie A action against Roma on Saturday, before taking on Barcelona in the Champions League next week.

Victory for Croatia over Austria sealed top spot in Group A1 and a place in the Nations League finals.

Phil Foden has been a revelation since breaking into Manchester City's first team and the Premier League champions are eager to reward him with a new deal.

The England midfielder is under contract under 2024, but City are set to keep in at the club for the long term.


TOP STORY – CITY REACH FODEN AGREEMENT FOR BUMPER DEAL

Manchester City and Foden have reached an agreement in principle on a £78million deal according to Football Insider.

The mega-money deal is worth around £250,000 per week for the 22-year-old, pushing him close to the money Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland are earning.

The length of the contract is six years for the Stockport-born star, who came through the academy at City.

ROUND-UP 

Arsenal have moved on from Dusan Vlahovic , according to Fabrizio Romano, who claims the Gunners are not interested in re-visiting a potential move for the Serbian who joined Juventus in January.

Manchester United will dangle a five-year contract for striker Marcus Rashford as they look to tie him down long term, reports The Express. Rashford's current deal expires at the end of this season.

– Calciomercato claims Alex Sandro will depart Juventus when his contract expires at the conclusion of this season. The Brazilian has previously attracted interest from Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain .

Romelu Lukaku has no plans to return to Chelsea when his season-long loan with Inter expires at the end of this season, reports La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Chelsea are ready to pay £30million for Fulham's 17-year-old midfielder Luke Harris , claims The Mirror. Harris was called up to Wales' Nations League squad, but is yet to debut for the Cottagers.

Liverpool and Arsenal are both considering a move next year for Villarreal's 21-year-old winger Alex Baena , reports the Daily Mirror.

Javier Zanetti says Inter have full faith in Simone Inzaghi and believes they can mount a strong challenge to regain the Serie A title.

The Nerazzurri were dethroned by city rivals Milan in Inzaghi's first season in charge after the head coach was lured from Lazio on a two-year deal.

Inter are seventh in the table after losing 3-1 at Udinese in their final game before the international break.

That was their third Serie A loss in seven games this season and they were also beaten 2-0 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League at San Siro.

Inter vice-president Zanetti says the hierarchy have never had any doubts that Inzaghi is the right man for the job.

He told Tuttomercatoweb.com: "There has always been confidence in Inzaghi, the merits are never of just one person.

"There is a group that has very clear objectives and we are all going in the same direction."

Former Argentina captain Zanetti expects Inter to be a force this season despite an unconvincing start.

He added: "We must be a resilient, humble team, and then it will depend on our ability to be protagonists because I am convinced that there are the conditions to be able to do so."

Inter return to action with a Serie A encounter against Roma next Saturday.

Robin Gosens has revealed he rejected a move to Bayer Leverkusen as he is determined to establish himself at Inter.

Injury woes have meant Gosens has made only three starts since joining the Nerazzurri from Serie A rivals Atalanta in January.

Leverkusen wanted to sign the wing-back before the transfer window closed at the start of this month, but he was not interested in leaving San Siro.

Following a lengthy spell on the sidelines, the Germany international is relishing the challenge of making his mark at Inter when he returns from Nations League duty.

Gosens told Sport1: "I have put a year of suffering behind me and I am naturally happy to be here again. This call-up [to the Germany squad] I see as a reward for hard work.

"But the ticket to the World Cup in Qatar is definitely not in my hands yet. I am ready to fight back again.

"I am not yet in that state of form in which I was in Bergamo when my performances were so good. I'm close to it, but I know at the same time that there is still a lot to work on."

He added of a potential move to his homeland: "I spoke on the phone with Simon Rolfes [Leverkusen director of sport] and we had a sincere and open exchange.

"I told him that I have not finished at Inter yet and that I would like to fight.

"I feel very good now at Inter. I'm super-motivated and happy with the tasks that await me. But I'm only satisfied when I'm on the pitch, this is a goal that I have with myself.

"I play in a top world club and I am happy at Inter. My goal is to establish myself in this great club. Now I have to play three, four, five consecutive matches."

Inter's latest defeat shows the former Serie A champions "lack focus", admits goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, after they fell to a 3-1 loss against Udinese on Sunday.

The visitors surrendered an early lead to their hosts after Nicolo Barella's free-kick was cancelled out by a Milan Skriniar own goal, before late finishes for Jaka Bijol and Tolgay Arslan sealed three points for their rivals.

The result saw Inter not only miss out on the chance to go top of the table, but means they will head into the international break outside the top six.

It is the third league defeat this term for Simone Inzaghi's side, and follows a familiar pattern, where they have scored once and conceded three, leaving Handanovic to mull whether their control is slipping.

"We have lost the compactness we had before," the Slovenian told Sky Sport Italia. "It depends on many things. If you make technical mistakes and lose the ball, you are open, you are at risk.

"Today, we conceded two goals from set pieces. It shows that we lack focus. We know, we study things. When this happens, it is easy to analyse why. They did a lot more than us, they deserved to win."

"We cannot show consistency right now," coach Inzaghi added. "We came from two wins, and now that is three away matches in a row where we went ahead and then lost 3-1. 

"The main culprit is me because I am the coach, but it will require further analysis. We knew what Udinese could do, and we had to do more."

A frustrated Inter missed the chance to go top of Serie A after late goals for Jaka Bijol and Tolgay Arslan handed Udinese a 3-1 victory at Stadio Friuli.

The visitors had struck first inside five minutes to lead through Nicolo Barella, before a Milan Skriniar own goal had brought their hosts back into the game.

Both teams looked set to settle for a share of the spoils, but Bijol's powerful glance off Gerard Deulofeu's corner followed by Arslan's sharp header in injury time sealed the points for Udinese.

Defeat means Simone Inzaghi's side will return in October facing a fight to get back into the top four, with the result moving Udinese top ahead of Milan's clash with Napoli and Atalanta's trip to Roma.

Real Madrid have joined the race to land Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar, with the 27-year-old's contract set to expire at the end of this season.

Skriniar has been one of the most in-demand defenders in the world this year, with numerous bids coming during the last transfer window from Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Tottenham.

While Inter are keen to fend off the outside interest and lock him into a new contract, the fact that he will be able to leave on a free transfer at the conclusion of the campaign could force their hand.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID HOPE TO SECURE SKRINIAR ON FREE TRANSFER

Madrid took advantage of the free agent market this past window, signing Antonio Rudiger when his Chelsea contract finished, and Football Insider claim they have similar plans for Skriniar.

Inter reportedly turned down bids worth in the €60million range from PSG with the hope an upgraded contract could keep Skriniar in Italy long-term, but with time running out, Tuttosport is reporting the French giants will return with a bid of €30m in January.

The Football Insider report also stresses how important Tottenham's Antonio Conte views the big Slovakian, having started 31 out of 38 league games for Conte when he was with Inter for their Serie A title in 2020-21.

 

ROUND-UP

– 90min is reporting Arsenal are considering a move for 27-year-old free agent midfielder Xeka after his contract with Lille recently expired.

– According to The Mirror, Liverpool are leaning towards terminating the loan of Juventus' Arthur Melo just weeks after the 26-year-old midfielder arrived at Anfield.

– After an impressive loan stint at Fiorentina last season, Real Madrid right-back Alvaro Odriozola has caught the eye of another Italian club, with Juventus said to be interested in a January move in the range of €15m.

– Leicester City centre-back Caglar Soyuncu has decided to sign with Atletico Madrid when his contract finishes at the end of the season, per Mundo Deportivo.

– The Independent is reporting Everton are preparing a new contract offer for Anthony Gordon that will pay him six times his current salary.

Manchester United are reportedly ready for a major change, with Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak said to be a priority target.

Both Oblak, 29, and current United number one David de Gea, 31, are in the last season of their respective contracts. While a January move may be possible, it appears more likely United will try to bring in Oblak on an end-of-season free transfer, as Atletico will also want to hold onto their world-class keeper for as long as possible.

De Gea has publicly declared his desire to remain at Old Trafford, but if Erik ten Hag decides his time as the number one is coming to an end, then he will likely have to leave unless United want the most expensive backup keeper in the world.


TOP STORY – UNITED TARGET JAN OBLAK AS LONG-TERM GOALKEEPER REPLACEMENT

According to a report from French publication Jeunes Footeux, United are looking for a goalkeeper of international calibre and are willing to pay up for the man with 359 appearances for Atletico since 2014.

It claims United are willing to make an offer of €18million per season – almost double the current salary of the 29-year-old Slovenian – to convince him to make the jump to the Premier League.

The report includes a nugget of information about Paris Saint-Germain also being interested in securing Oblak's services, as questions continue to be asked about Gianluigi Donnarumma.

ROUND-UP

– GiveMeSport is reporting Arsenal are "very close" to securing a contract extension for 21-year-old Bukayo Saka.

– According to Calciomercato.com, Manchester City are joining Chelsea in the chase for Milan's Rafael Leao as he bides his time on signing a new contract.

– Calciomercato is also reporting Milan are looking for forward reinforcements after recent injuries to Divock Origi and Ante Rebic, with Club Brugge winger Noa Lang named as a possible future target. Lille's Jonathan David and Salzburg's Noah Okafor have also been linked.

Brighton are offering new deals to Alexis Mac Allister and Leandro Trossard in an effort to fend off transfer offers, according to Ekrem Konur with Fichajes.

– After being one of the most in-demand centre-backs in the world this past transfer window, Inter's Milan Skriniar is expected to be awarded with a new and improved contract, according to Foot Mercato.

Simone Inzaghi was in no doubt as to the importance of Inter's 2-0 Champions League win at Viktoria Plzen, as he looks to navigate a path through a group containing Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

Having fallen to a 2-0 loss against Bayern last Wednesday, Inter were faced with the prospect of starting a Champions League campaign with back-to-back defeats for just the second time (after doing so in 2006-07).

But Edin Dzeko's cultured first-half finish put the Nerazzurri in control, and Denzel Dumfries made the points safe after Pavel Bucha was dismissed on the hour mark.

Inter have now won three of their last four Champions League away games, as many as they had in their previous 12 such matches.

Having triumphed 1-0 at Liverpool in the second leg of a last-16 tie in March, meanwhile, the Nerazzurri have won back-to-back away games in the competition for the first time since October 2011. 

Inzaghi, who began his news conference by labelling Barcelona and Bayern "the two best teams in the world at the moment", was aware of the importance of taking maximum points in the Czech Republic.

"We know we will face them, today the goal was to bring home the points," he said.

"We made easy a match that was not, no Italian team had won here in Plzen. It's a well-deserved victory, wanted by the boys, I'm happy.

"We are happy, because we knew that the opponent could not be underestimated. We knew the path of all the Italian teams that came here in Plzen. 

"The boys were good, they remained focused, and I congratulated them in the locker room."

Inter never looked likely to surrender the points after Dzeko swept into the bottom-right corner. The former Manchester City and Roma striker has now recorded 20 goal involvements in his last 21 Champions League appearances (14 goals, six assists).

While praising the forward's contribution, Inzaghi highlighted the importance of competition in the Inter attack as he revealed Romelu Lukaku should return from injury after this month's international break.

"Edin was good, like all his team-mates. I need everyone in defence, in midfield and in attack," he added.

"After the break Lukaku will return, and from match to match I will choose the attacking couple who will enter the field."

Plzen coach Michal Bilek, meanwhile, rued the ruthlessness of the Bosnia and Herzegovina international, declaring: "I said yesterday that a shot on goal was enough for him to score.

"He is a very good player and even today he managed to score like this. For the rest of the match I think that our players managed to control him well."

Edin Dzeko and Denzel Dumfries guided Inter to a much-needed 2-0 win over 10-man Viktoria Plzen, kick-starting the Nerazzurri's Champions League campaign.

Defeat to Bayern Munich last Wednesday meant Inter needed to respond in the Czech Republic, and they never looked likely to drop points after Dzeko swept home in the first half.

Pavel Bucha's straight red card cemented Inter's superiority, with Dumfries making the points safe when Dzeko turned provider with 20 minutes remaining.

With Simone Inzaghi's men facing criticism after an inconsistent start to the season, the win provides a welcome boost ahead of the daunting prospect of back-to-back meetings with Group C rivals Barcelona.

Inter needed just 20 minutes to turn their dominance of possession into a deserved lead - Dzeko tucking a neat finish into the bottom-right corner.

Dzeko could have had a second when Marcelo Brozovic slipped him through on goal, but the forward's low effort was well saved by Jindrich Stanek.

Plzen were unable to test Andre Onana despite improving before the break, and were indebted to Stanek for saving Milan Skriniar's glancing header at full stretch three minutes into the second half. 

Dumfries missed a golden chance when he nodded over the crossbar from six yards out, but Plzen's chances of a comeback were left in tatters by Bucha's reckless challenge on Nicolo Barella, which saw him receive his marching orders following a VAR review.

The depleted hosts were put out of their misery in the 70th minute, Dumfries making amends as he latched onto Dzeko's pass and lifted a finish beyond Stanek.

What does it mean? Nerazzurri off the mark

Inter's meek defeat to Bayern led to an apology from chief executive Giuseppe Marotta, and the presence of two European heavyweights in Group C meant the Nerazzurri were under genuine pressure ahead of the trip to Plzen.

But Inzaghi's side produced the goods to boost their qualification hopes, ensuring Inter have still only started one Champions League campaign with back-to-back losses (under Roberto Mancini in 2006-07) in the process.

Dzeko steps up

With Romelu Lukaku injured and Lautaro Martinez starting on the bench, Inter's back-up strikers were handed an opportunity to shine on Tuesday.

Dzeko became the oldest player to play a Champions League game for Inter for over a decade last time out (since Javier Zanetti v Marseille in March 2012), but his cultured finish demonstrated the former Manchester City and Roma striker still has the quality to contribute.

Since Dzeko joined Inter in August 2021, only Martinez (28) has bettered his tally of 19 goals for the club in all competitions.

No joy for Plzen 

Few would have held out any hope for Viktoria Plzen after they were drawn into a group containing Inter, Barcelona and Bayern, and their back-to-back defeats have done little to reverse perceptions of them being Group C whipping boys.

Plzen have shipped 51 goals in just 20 Champions League matches, becoming just the second side to bring up an unwanted century in so few games; Malmo conceded their 50th Champions League goal in their 18th outing.

What's next?

Inter travel to Udinese for their next Serie A outing on Sunday, while Plzen host Slavia Prague in the Czech First League.

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