Inter Milan vs Real MadridUEFA Champions League, KO: 20:00 Sep 15, 2021, San Siro
INTER MILAN should have been heading into this blockbuster Champions League opener with Real Madrid as the picture of stability after romping to their first Serie A title since 2010.
But instead they have been rocked by the loss of the man who led them to that crown and the talisman whose goals helped topple Juventus as kings of Italy.
Romelu Lukaku is probably a bigger loss than boss Antonio Conte although Inter haven't lacked firepower since his departure, firing home nine goals in their first three Serie A games.
New gaffer Simone Inzaghi has made a decent start, collecting seven points from those games, but this clash with Real will give us a better indication of whether Inter can build on the success of last season.
It has also been a summer of upheaval at the Bernabeu with gaffer Zinedine Zidane standing down and Carlo Ancelotti returning for his own second spell in charge.
Defensive stalwarts Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos have moved on to pastures new and with Real's finances feeling the pinch, Eduardo Camavinga and David Alaba have been the only summer signings.
But Ancelotti still has plenty of talent at his disposal and his side have started well in La Liga, collecting 10 points from 12 and scoring 13 goals in the process.
With both sides full of confidence and scoring for fun, the stage is set for what should be a spectacular start to a Champions League group where both sides should see off Sheriff Tiraspol and Shakhtar Donetsk to qualify.
How the bookies view it
This is arguably the toughest game to call in all the Champions League groups this week. That's reflected in the odds with SBK pricing Inter at 20/13 and Real at 27/10. Don't rule out the stalemate and that pays 19/10 with Bet365.
Head to head
The sides have met 11 times in European competition and there's nothing between them, with five wins apiece and one draw. But Real Madrid came out on top when the teams were drawn together in last season's group stage. A late goal from Rodrygo sealed an epic 3-2 win at the Bernabeu before the Madrid giants won 2-0 at the San Siro (below) in a game where Arturo Vidal saw red.
Players to watch
With Lukaku now gone, Inter will look to Lautaro Martinez (below) to shoulder most of the burden for goals. The Argentine has made a good start to the season, netting three in four games for club and country, so looks good value at a boosted 2/1 with William Hill for a goal here.
Karim Benzema delivered for me in the Champions League last season and has made a flying start to the new campaign with five goals from four La Liga games. The Frenchman is 8/5 with Paddy Power for a goal at the San Siro.
Anything else catch the eye?
The stats suggest we could be in for a thriller with Inter averaging three goals a game so far this term and Real Madrid over three. Both teams to score has also trapped in all but one game for each of these teams so it looks a good option for accas here at 20/29 with Mansionbet.
Over 2.5 goals is also pretty short at a best 10/13 with SBK but the odds increase to 2/1 if you add an extra goal to that. Over 1.5 first-half goals might be a better bet at 7/4 with Unibet while the half-time draw pays a decent 13/10 with SBK.
The two meetings last season were pretty fiery with 10 yellows and one red flashed in total. I haven't seen a total card market yet but Casemiro appeals at 2/1 to be carded (Bet365) as the Real midfielder always gets stuck in. It's a similar story for Inter's Marcelo Brozovic and he's the same price with the same firm.
This UEFA Champions League match between Inter Milan and Real Madrid will be played on Sep 15, 2021 and kick off at 20:00. Check below for our tipsters best Inter Milan vs Real Madrid prediction. You may also visit our dedicated betting previews section for the most up to date previews.