Barça through to Champions League last 16 despite late Inter equaliser

Image PA

Image PA

Lionel MESSI, who while did not take part in the match due to injury, did take a picture with Argentina and Inter legend Javier ZANETTI.

"We were careful in training, but we knew that today's match would be like how it was with the intensity that there was".

Barcelona won the four games they have played without Messi, including beating Inter Milan 2-0 at the Nou Camp and thrashing Real Madrid 5-1 in La Liga. "The message from this match is that we want to qualify from the group, we wanted to take points from this match knowing that now we have two hard matches".

Sources have told ESPN FC that Ajax's Matthijs de Ligt is Barca's top target in defence, but Skriniar is reportedly an alternative. In the first half, we deserved to have the lead.

However, Handanovic was equal to everything the Catalan club threw at him until Valverde brought Malcom on with nine minutes remaining. With what should be a fairly comfortable match at home to Real Betis this Sunday, it will be interesting to see whether Valverde finally gives Malcom a chance from the start. After scoring, Icardi grabs the ball and all the players get back to the centre circle.

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Lionel Messi could make an earlier return than expected against Inter Milan in the Champions League on Tuesday night (at 3am Cambodian time) but Barcelona have hardly missed him.

Mauro Icardi celebrating a goal for Inter.

He was initially ruled out for three weeks but returned to training after 10 days and was said to be in contention to play against Italians. Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde thinks that Luciano Spalletti's men will throw a tougher challenge to Barcelona, although they faced a one-sided defeat in their previous meeting. Barcelona has cruised thus far in Champions League play, going 3-0-0 with a plus-eight goal differential.

Despite only picking up a draw in the end, Barcelona's performance was much improved from their last match against 19th placed Rayo Vallecano.

"Barcelona have always had issues with Brazilian players: Neymar, Romario, Ronaldinho and me", he said.

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