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Barcelona kicks off Champions League with draw at Inter Milan
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Reigning Champions FC Barcelona kicked off the defense of the Champions League with a hard fought 0-0 away draw to Italian side Inter Milan.

Barcelona had the better chances in the game, but was unable to break down a solid Inter defense, that had been well organized by coach Jose Mourinho.

It was a disappointing result for a clash had been built up as a match of reunions with Inter striker Samuel Eto'o facing the side he only left during the summer.

Meanwhile both Zlatan Ibrahimovich and Maxwell left Inter to join Barcelona during the close season.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola had no hesitation in putting out his strongest available team, with Andres Iniesta, who is not 100% fit, on the substitutes' bench.

Ibrahimovich was clearly highly motivated and created the first chance of the match after just seven minutes, only to shoot wide.

Overall, the first half was an even matched affair, although Eto'o was clearly another player out to prove a point.

However, it was his partner in attack, Diego Milito, who almost broke the deadlock with a shot from inside the Barcelona area that Victor Valdes did well to save.

It was turning into a thrilling game with both sides looking to open the score. Messi went close before the break and Milito had a further opportunity, but at half time the honors were even.

The second half saw Barcelona look to get on top with Ibrahimovich again keen to make his mark.

The Catalan side controlled the ball, while Inter was content to try and absorb the pressure and play on the break.

Nevertheless, it was Barcelona full back Dani Alves who was his side's most incisive player. His continual attacking runs down the wing created space for Leo Messi, but it was not to be the Argentinean's night.

The final score may be a let down for those who were expecting a feat of attacking talent, but Barcelona will be content to have started the title defense with a point in what in theory was the most difficult match of the group stage.

(Xinhua News Agency September 17, 2009)

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