Rematch time for Inter and Bayern Munich
With the Champions League knockout round continuing today, let's determine each team's chances in the first leg. Using ESPN's Soccer Power Index -- a predictive algorithm designed to forecast soccer events -- we calculated the offensive, defensive and overall rating of each team and used those to find the individual match predictions. A team's SPI rating is based on the number of goals a club is expected to defeat (or lose to) an average big four opponent by on a neutral field. Here's a look at today's two matches:
Internazionale vs. Bayern
This is a rematch of last year's UEFA Champions League final that saw Inter hoist the trophy after a 2-0 win. Diego Milito scored twice to lead Inter to its third European championship and first since 1965.
Jose Mourinho is no longer leading the Nerazzurri, but Inter has still shown sparkling form at home this season. It has lost only one league match at San Siro this season, a 1-0 slipup to city rival AC Milan, and won all three matches at home during this season's Champions League group stage. Inter has also scored 32 goals at home this season in Serie A and its 2.5 goals per match at home is tied for fifth-best among the top four European Leagues (England, Spain, Italy, Germany).
Bayern Munich has done well at home this season as well, but it has struggled away from Allianz Arena. The club has won only four times in 12 away matches during league play this season. Bayern also has to battle its history in matches played on Italian soil, where it has lost nine times in 15 matches. Mario Gomez is the man to watch for Bayern, as he's scored in three consecutive league matches and has six goals in his past five league matches.
Marseille vs. Manchester United
NOTE: As France's Ligue 1 is not one of the leagues tracked by the SPI, Marseille's win percentage is calculated solely based on its play in the Champions League over the past four years.
Marseille and Manchester United are meeting for the first time since the 1999-2000 UEFA Champions League group stage, where each side was victorious on its home ground. Marseille is looking to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since winning the title in 1992-93, while Manchester United is hoping to reach its fifth consecutive quarterfinal.
Marseille has historically done well against English opposition at home in European competition, going 7-2-0 with both losses coming against Liverpool in the Champions League group stage. While SPI does not account for Marseille's league performance, it has done well at home in Ligue 1 this season. The club has lost only once in 12 league matches with a plus-10 goal difference.
Manchester United is SPI's third-highest rated club, placing it behind only Barcelona and Real Madrid. United has lost only twice in 38 matches across all competitions this season (one league match, one Carling Cup match), but both of those losses came away from Old Trafford. The Red Devils have had success in France in past European competitions, having lost only twice in 11 matches on French soil (3-6-2).