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Barcelona and Atletico without Griezmann. What Intrigues Await Us in the UCL 2nd-Leg Matches?

Barcelona - Napoli

With the arrival of Francesco Calzona, Napoli has transformed: the formation with three central defenders has been discarded, and the game has become more attacking. Particularly daring is the role of midfielder Giovanni di Lorenzo in this structure, who boldly joins the attack, leaving behind vast space for counterattacks. This position will be an attractive focal point for the Catalans' attacking prowess.

Another fascinating showdown is the Serie A's most expensive player, Victor Osimhen, against 17-year-old Pau Cubarsi. Already, the young talent is Barcelona's best passing central defender and is likely to start. Pau displayed mature football beyond his years and demonstrated against Mallorca that he can handle big center-forwards (like Vedat Muriqi), but Osimhen represents a different level. Will Cubarsi cope with what the experienced Iñigo Martínez struggled with in the first leg?

Atletico Madrid - Inter

Antoine Griezmann's injury is the main challenge for Atletico, as they are forced to play without him. Memphis Depay or Ángel Correa will likely partner with Álvaro Morata. Still, both players defend and press worse than the Frenchman, which could be a problem. Inter's structure is highly variable, and the effectiveness of Atletico's pressing plan, considering all difficulties, will determine the outcome of the confrontation. Will Simeone risk starting with four defenders from the first minutes, or will he assign the full-backs ultra-attacking tasks?

However, Inter also needs help with their attackers. Marco Arnautovic is out due to injury. Marcus Thuram is not ready to play the full 90 minutes, and they will have to field 35-year-old Alexis Sanchez alongside Lautaro Martinez. Sanchez has been decent in recent matches, but can the Chilean produce the necessary volume to pressurize defenders and cover the midfield zone effectively?

Published by Patrick Jane