Mon 22 Oct by Mark Gleeson


A broken arm means no Lionel Messi for Barcelona as they host Inter Milan tomorrow night (WED) in the Champions League and, more alarmingly for the club, in Saturday’s ‘Classico’ against Real Madrid.
An awkward fall in the LaLiga top of the table clash against Sevilla at the weekend means at least three weeks on the sidelines for the talismanic genius. He has fractured the radial bone in his right arm, according to Barcelona.
Tomorrow night’s Group B game at the Nou Camp pits two sides with a 100 percent start to the Champions League campaign but if it produces a winner will allow Tottenham Hotspur a chance to fight their way back into contention, as long as they beat PSV Eindhoven away in the Netherlands.
This week’s third round of Champions League group games offer defining points for several sides with indifferent form or, in the case of Manchester City, unable to turn domestic hegemony into success on the European stage.
City are away in the Ukraine tonight (TUES) at Shakhtar Donetsk in desperate need of a win to put them back on course to win Group F.
City have been rampant in the Premier League in recent weeks but their home defeat by Olympique Lyonnais at the start of this season’s Champions League campaign was a shock to the system, perpetuating a lack of conviction in the continental competition in recent years.
Real Madrid are in a growing crisis with new coach Julen Lopetegui declared ‘finished’ at the Santiago Bernabeu by the Spanish press.
Lopetegui led Madrid to their fifth game without a win and the worst goalless run of their 116-year history on Saturday as they lost 2-1 to Levante.
That was followed by Madridistas calling for Antonio Conte to be sworn in, although the former Spain boss insisted being sacked was ‘the last thing on my mind’.
The papers described him as “a failed bet”, writing “we just need to put a date on his departure. If it’s not today, it’ll be tomorrow, next week or after the Classico”.
In the Champions League, Real have what looks an easy tie against Viktoria Plzen of the Czech Republic tonight but punters will be wary of taking the usually reliable Spanish giants as a banker.