Sunday, December 14, 2008

No. 6: Inter

Inter showed its first sign of vulnerability in the 2008-'09 campaign in the final three matches of the Champions League Group Stage. Inter had a strong seven points from its first three matches, but then a 3-3 draw in Cyprus against Anorthosis Famagusta started a run of matches in which Inter got only one point from its final three games.

Included in that run was a 1-0 home loss to Panathinaikos of Greece, which went on to win the group, sending Inter to second and what will assuredly be a tough Round of 16 match. Inter finished the group stage just +1 on goal differential in six matches.

Why they are here: Inter's form in Serie A has been top-drawer. Or, more accurately, Zlatan Ibrahimovic's form has been top-draw. The Swedish striker has 10 goals in Serie A action, while no other Inter player has more than two. Still, Inter has the most goals in the league and has allowed the fewest. Can't do better than that, and the league-leading 39 points show it.

Why they might not be here in May: Well, they could use another scorer for one. Brazil's Adriano has two goals in the Champions League, but just one in seven Serie A games. That could well be on Jose Mourinho's shopping list in January. Chances are the "Special One" will do something to make a run at his second Champions League trophy. It might even come through the side where he won his first one, Porto, a possible opponent in the Round of 16.

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