Inter Milan are in a bit of trouble, and instead of the UEFA Champions League looking like an opportunity to turn things around, it looks more like a chance for things to get worse.
Inter hit a new low over the weekend, dropping to seventh place in Serie A after a 3-0 home loss to Bologna, but this has been building. The loss marked their third consecutive league loss and second consecutive at the San Siro, putting Claudio Ranieri's future at the club in doubt. Now Inter heads to France for the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie and could see their European ambitions fall the way of their league ambitions.
Olympique Marseille aren't faring much better. They find themselves 12 points from the top in Ligue 1 and without a win in the league since Feb. 1. Add the possible absence of Alou Diarra to injury and the return of Diego Milito and Dejan Stankovic for Inter, and it's tough to say Marseille are in any better shape than their opponents with the exception of being at home in this first leg.
For his part, Marseille manager Didier Deschamps isn't looking past Inter.
"They are a team that is not playing well at the moment,'' Deschamps told L'Equipe. "I have seen their previous matches on television and there have been lots of individual defensive mistakes.
"I am convinced we will not see the same Inter as of their last four Serie A matches. They will not erase everything in four or five days, but collectively they will be better. The Champions League can bring the focus and determination they have missed.''
That is all well and good, Didier, but the same could be said of your squad. Neither Marseille nor Inter is in particularly good form and this match could come down to who screws up the least, which is exactly what we expect from the Champions League, ain't it?
Olympique Marseille vs. Inter Milan
Game Date/Time: Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2:45 p.m. ET, 8:45 p.m. local
Venue: Stade Vélodrome, Marseille, France
TV: FOX Soccer Channel (USA -- English), FOX Deportes (USA -- Spanish), Sportsnet regional networks (Canada), ITV 1 (UK)
Olympique Marseille (4-2-3-1): Steve Mandanda; Jérémy Morel, Nicolas N'Koulou, Souleymane Diawara, César Azpilicueta; Benoit Cheyrou, Charles Kaboré; André Ayew, Mathieu Valbuena, Morgan Amalfitano; Loïc Rémy