From being suspended against Liverpool in last season’s Champions League round of sixteen to being set to play a key role against Man City in this season’s final, Nicolo Barella has become a key man for Inter Milan in Europe.
This is highlighted in today’s print edition of Milan-based newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, via FCInterNews.
Last season, Barella had no part to play in the Champions League knockouts.
The Nerazzurri went out at the round of sixteen against eventual finalists Liverpool. Barella didn’t play in either leg of that tie due to suspension.
The former Cagliari man had perhaps shown his immaturity to get a silly red card against Real Madrid in the final group stage match.
This meant that Inter were without a key player against Liverpool.
From Liverpool To Man City – Barella Becomes Inter Milan’s Key Man In UCL
However, the situation this season has been very different.
Barella has played a vital part for Inter all through the knockout rounds of this season’s Champions League.
The 26-year-old has started every single knockout match so far. His performances have been crucial against all of Porto, Benfica, and AC Milan.
Barella has shown that the immaturity that saw him miss the Liverpool tie is behind him.
Now, the Nerazzurri midfielder faces his biggest challenge yet. With all due respect to the Porto, Benfica, and Milan midfields, Man City are an altogether different animal.
The likes of Rodri and Ilkay Gundogan have been key throughout the Cityzens’ blazing knockout campaign. However, the hardest player to stop could be Barella’s direct opposite number – Kevin de Bruyne.
The Belgian showed against Real Madrid just how quickly he can make a match-deciding impact.
Even though Carlo Ancelotti’s side had largely kept City’s midfield maestro quiet throughout the semifinal first leg, it only took a second for him to strike, finding the back of the net from range.
Barella will have his hands full trying to deal with de Bruyne for the entire final. However, if there is anyone in Inter’s squad who can go toe-to-toe with de Bruyne, it is Barella.