The second round of Champions League fixtures are finally here, and the biggest club competition in the world only promises to get better. The two biggest fixtures of this matchday sees Barcelona host the in-form Inter Milan and Ajax travel to Spain to take on Valencia.
Barcelona vs Inter Milan
It has been a strange start to the season for Barcelona. They are yet to hit top gear in La Liga, and much of that has been down to the injury picked up by Lionel Messi. The Argentine looks to be on the sidelines again for a few weeks and undoubtedly Barca are a worse side without him. The pressure on Ernesto Valverde is beginning to mount, and the calls for him to be fired are only growing. That pressure was eased a little over the weekend with a rare away win against Getafe. It was the first time this season that Barcelona had won on the road. Luis Suarez scored the opener for Barca before Junior Firpo added the second. Barcelona will have to improve if they are to beat Inter, who are looking every bit like a Serie A title contender this season.
The Italian giants are currently sitting top of Serie A and hold a 100% record. The changes made by Antonio Conte have been immediate, and there is a feeling that with a proven goalscorer such as Romelu Lukaku in their ranks they could dethrone Juventus this season. Of course, there is still a long way to go, but even their second string is looking full of quality as was shown in their last outing. Alexis Sanchez scored and was sent off in their recent 3-1 win, while Stefano Sensi and Roberto Gagliardini also found the net. On this form, Inter could upset Barca. Although it would be difficult to see them winning. Inter would take a point before kick-off, and that’s what they could get.
Valencia vs Ajax
Last season’s semi-finalists have lost Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt over the summer, but they remain a strong force in this competition and domestically. They have started the season unbeaten in the Eredivisie and sit top of the table. That form was transferred into the Champions League on the opening matchday as they reigned supreme in Amsterdam against Lille. The French side had no answer for the fluent attacking display by Ajax. The goals for the Dutch champions were scored by Quincy Promes, Edson Alvarez and Nicolas Tagliafico. A second win in a row would put them in complete control of Group H.
Meanwhile, Valencia produced a big shock in their opening day clash in the Champions League with Chelsea as they ran out 1-0 winners. The Blues had much of the play, but the Spaniards defended excellently to hold them at bay before making their own killer blow. Rodrigo struck home the winner with 15 minutes remaining. Home form will be crucial for Valencia now as if they will all three matches they would be on the brink of qualification. However, they are inconsistent, and that has been shown in La Liga this season as they currently sit in ninth having only won twice. That second victory came last time out against Athletic Bilbao, with Denis Cheryshev scoring the only goal of the game. This fixture will be a true test of Valencia’s resolve, and it would be difficult to see them securing a second win on the bounce.