The most eagerly awaited tie of Matchday 1 takes place at Giuseppe Meazza as Italian champions Inter take on holders Barcelona.
As Barcelona start the defence of their Champions League title all talk focused on Zlatan Ibrahimovc and Samuel Eto’o as they prepare to come up against their former clubs.
The forwards traded places in the summer, Ibrahimovc swapping San Siro for Camp Nou and Eto’o making the opposite journey two months after scoring the opener in Barca’s 2-0 final triumph over Manchester United in Rome.
Inter coach José Mourinho, who won the trophy with Porto in 2004, attempted to play down the significance of tonight’s heavyweight clash.
“It’s just the first game,” he said. “I don’t want to think Barça are the favourites. We have started to play in a different way and we want to become a team with our own characteristics that work for both Italian and European football.
“Eto’o is always motivated, and he was born to win. He loves playing football and when he’s on the pitch he becomes another person. He left Barcelona, but I’m sure it’s still in his heart. I don’t think this match will be something extraordinary for him, he will play like he always does. He doesn’t have to prove anything, we all know his qualities.
“Guardiola is happy with Ibra, I’m happy with Eto’o and Eto’o is happy here. We are playing against Barcelona, not against Ibra. Anyway, it is always a pleasure to come up against the best players. I will tell you the starting eleven and then leave: Julio Cesar, Maicon, Samuel, Lucio and Chivu, Stankovic or Muntari, Zanetti, Thiago Motta, Sneijder, Milito and Eto’o.”
Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola was equally keen to downplay the importance of tonight’s game.
“This game won’t determine who wins the group,” he said. “This is a very tough group, with four national champions. It’s a pleasure to be in Italy. Last season we didn’t face a single Italian opponent.
“Personally it’s an honour for me to face a coach as great as Mourinho who has won trophies in three different countries. Inter have won four Scudetti in a row, with different players and coaches, which proves their strength. We have to play great to win. They’re a strong team. Mourinho may have revealed his starting eleven but I won’t do it, I never do it.
“I wanted Ibrahimovic because we knew him and his winning mentality well. He’s adapting very quickly and we wait for him to be 100 per cent. I hope I get the chance to say hi to Eto’o tomorrow. I want to thank him for the five wonderful years he spent in Barcelona. He is a champion and it won’t be easy.”