When the draw was made back in December, everyone looked at this matchup as the glamour tie of the round of 16. Back then Chelsea were riding high and Inter were struggling as little, and nobody gave Inter much of a chance against probably the second best team in Europe.
But luckily for Inter the games are being played now instead of before Christmas. Chelsea do not look as formidable defensively as they did a couple of month ago. Ashley Cole is out injured and John Terry has looked very distracted the last couple of weeks.
With Eto’o, Militi and now Pandev, Inter have some forwards who can cause Chelsea’s back four some problems and suddenly this game look a lot more competitive than it did two months ago.
But this is no walk in the park for Inter. Chelsea are probably the second best team in Europe at the moment (behind Barcelona) and they have failed to make it to the semi-finals only once in the past six years. Which is a pretty amazing record.
A Jose Mourinho team is always built from the back and in Julio Cesar, they have one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the world. In central defence, Inter will use the size and strength of Lucio and Samuel, to combat the size and strength of Anelka and Drogba. This will be a really interesting battle as I think that Drogba is the best center forward in world football.
As with any big game, whoever dominates in midfield will win the tie. Assuming that both teams go with two up front, then that leaves a 4 v 4 battle in the middle of the park. For Inter, those four players will probably be Cambiasso, Motta, Muntari and Sneijder. Chelsea will counter with Ballack, Lampard, Mikel and Cole (since I expect Malouda to play left back in place of the injured Zhirkov and Ashley Cole).
Lampard and Sniejder are the creative captains for both teams and if Sniejder can match Lampard performance over the two legs then Inter will have a god chance of causing the upset.
The wildcard in all this is Jose Mourinho. He knows the Chelsea players and how they best perform. Can he use that knowledge to get Drogba off his game and cancel out Lampard in midfield?
These will be two extremely competitive games and I am really looking forward to the first leg in Milan. Inter need to head to Stamford Bridge with an advantage while Chelsea will feel that even a 2-1 defeat is good as they can beat Inter at home, especially if they have that all important away goal.
Inter win 2-1 at home setting up a tremendous second leg in London.