Football

‘Hungry’ Romelu Lukaku ready for Real Madrid

Inter pin qualification hopes on Belgian as Conte targets at least 7 pts from 3 games

In-form striker Romelu Lukaku looks ready to rejuvenate Inter Milan's Champions League hopes and add to Real Madrid's misery as both sides meet tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

During the reverse fixture earlier this month, the Belgian was unavailable due to a muscle injury, paving the way for the Spanish giants to prevail 3-2 for their first victory in Group B after a draw and a loss.

      champions league

                GROUP B

INTER MILAN REAL MADRID

But Lukaku, who has been firing of late, will be aiming to spark Inter's hopes of qualifying for the knockout stage after two draws and one defeat left them at the bottom of the group.

After scoring a double in Belgium's 4-2 Nations League win over Denmark last week, the 27-year-old bagged another brace in Inter's 4-2 victory over Torino last Sunday, taking his tally to seven Serie A goals this term and helping Inter move to fifth in the table.

Lukaku told DAZN after the win that he still wants to improve as he hunts for silverware.

He said: "I am growing as a player and I want to improve every day, to be a champion. Champions win trophies, this is my motivation."

Also aiding his cause at the San Siro tomorrow will be the absence of several Real players due to injury.

Real skipper and defensive cornerstone Sergio Ramos is out after limping off with a hamstring injury during Spain's 6-0 win over Germany last week.

Veteran striker Karim Benzema is also unavailable due to fitness issues and so are Federico Valverde, Luka Jovic, Alvaro Odriozola and Eder Militao.

But midfielder Casemiro made the trip to Milan after missing recent games due to a positive Covid-19 diagnosis.

Over at the Inter camp, defender Aleksandar Kolarov and midfielder Marcelo Brozovic have also contracted the coronavirus, ruling them out of their do-or-die mission.

"For us, it is a final," said Inter coach Antonio Conte, who added that they need at least seven points from their remaining three group games.

"After the defeat by Real (earlier this month) and the two previous draws, we have no other option. A difficult game awaits us, we all know the importance and history of (Madrid)."

ERIKSEN ON THE PERIPHERY

Another Inter player who could also be on the periphery is midfielder Christian Eriksen.

The Danish international arrived on a 4½-year contract worth 20 million euros (S$32m) plus 7.5m euros in bonuses in January.

But during a year overshadowed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the 28-year-old has been unable to reproduce his form with Tottenham Hotspur, where he scored 69 goals and had 89 assists in 305 appearances, or recently with Denmark.

"It wasn't what I had dreamed of," admitted Eriksen, who has fallen down the pecking order under Conte.

"People would like to see me play and I would like to do the same, but the coach has different ideas and I have to respect them."

The Dane has played seven times this season - four as a starter - with no assists or goals. In total, he has scored four goals for Inter in 33 games.

Club CEO Giuseppe Marotta has confirmed Eriksen's impending exit. - AFP

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