Champions League Preview: Tottenham Hotspur - Inter
A win for the Italian giants in London in this Group A fixture will see them qualify for the knockout stage...
By Subhankar Mondal
One Step Away From Qualification
Inter survived a massive scare on Matchday 3 in the Champions League when a 21-year-old by the name of Gareth Bale almost tore down the gargantuan footballing machine that Jose Mourinho had constructed in his two years at San Siro. 4-0 up against Tottenham Hotspur at the interval, the Nerazzurri seemed as happy as kids who had just seen their father return home from work to play with them, but Bale threatened to put their hopes on fire when he scored thrice.
It finished 4-3 in the end and two of Spurs’ goals came in injury time anyway, but coach Rafael Benitez must have been biting his nails as he witnessed his Inter side crumble like a parchment in the second 45 minutes. Nevertheless, the victory in Milan means that the Italian and European champions are top of Group A with seven points from three matches.
Inter will qualify for the second round of Europe’s premier club competition with a win if the match between Werder Bremen and Twente end in a draw. The Beneamata warmed up for the trip to north London with a 1-0 away win against Genoa in Serie A on Friday, which put them four points off the pace.
This will be Inter’s second away match in the Champions League this season, the first one having ended in a 2-2 draw with Twente in the Netherlands. Benitez knows that Spurs are a strong side at home but remains confident and said on Monday: "If we do win tomorrow, then we are through and we can relax a little bit and we'll be able to perhaps spend more time preparing for forthcoming league games and also the World Club Championship.
“It's very important to win tomorrow. We are in a good position now. We are in the driving seat, and we will try to do our best."
The Strength Of The Hart
In his tenure as the manager of Liverpool, Rafael Benitez failed to win at White Hart Lane after Harry Redknapp took over the reigns at Tottenham and on Tuesday evening the Spurs clan will hope that the record continues. At the moment the Premier League side are second in the group with four points from three matches and will draw level with leaders Inter with a win.
Spurs have looked much better at home in Europe than they have away as they defeated Twente at White Hart Lane, conceding just once; in two away matches the Lilywhites have shipped in six.
Nevertheless, Tottenham have shown progress in a group that many believe Inter will win, and indeed the north London club are now in pole position to qualify for the knockout stages as runners-up in Group A. Spurs have scored goals for fun in the competition, having netted nine times in three matches – more than Barcelona, Chelsea and Real Madrid.
However, Redknapp’s team are not in the best of form right now as since their defeat to Inter in Milan, they have drawn with Everton at home and lost to Manchester United at Old Trafford, both in the Premier League. A considerable improvement is required for the injury-ravaged Spurs side to upset the European champions.
Rednapp is aware of the task at hand but remains quietly confident, “We're playing a team where the goalkeeper [Julio Cesar] was voted the best in the Champions League last season, Maicon was voted the best defender, [Wesley] Sneijder the best midfielder and [Diego] Milito the best forward, so they've got real quality.
“They are the champions of Italy and the Champions League holders so it is a very tough game but I fancy us at home with the crowd and great atmosphere. We've got to set a high tempo, play the way we want to play, and I think it will be a great night's football.”
Michael Dawson, Ledley King, Vedran Corluka and Jermain Defoe are out injured while Heurelho Gomes is suspended. Rafael Van der Vaart too looked to be in doubt at one stage but the Dutch international seems to have recovered. Redknapp could deploy a 4-2-3-1 formation that will have Peter Crouch as the lone targetman.
Benitez is without the services of first-choice goalkeeper Julio Cesar and defensive midfielder Esteban Cambiasso, both of whom picked up injuries in their league game against Genoa last week. Luca Castellazzi will replace the Brazilian between the Inter sticks while Sulley Muntari is likely to be paired with Javier Zanetti in central midfield.
The return of Diego Milito from injury implies that the Argentina international striker will be the main striker upfront in a 4-2-3-1 system that will see Samuel Eto’o, Wesley Sneijder and Goran Pandev support him from the attacking midfield department.
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Top 3 Predictions
Tottenham 0-0 FC Internazionale
- 12.43 %
Tottenham 1-2 FC Internazionale
- 12.35 %
Tottenham 0-2 FC Internazionale
- 11.57 %
|UEFA Europa League (EL)||Mar 14, 2013||FC Internazionale 4 - Tottenham 1|
|UEFA Europa League (EL)||Mar 7, 2013||Tottenham 3 - FC Internazionale 0|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Nov 2, 2010||Tottenham 3 - FC Internazionale 1|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Oct 20, 2010||FC Internazionale 4 - Tottenham 3|
|Dec 4, 2013||Fulham 1 - Tottenham 2||EPL|
|Dec 1, 2013||Tottenham 2 - Man Utd. 2||EPL|
|Nov 28, 2013||Tromsø IL 0 - Tottenham 2||EL|
|Nov 24, 2013||Manchester City FC 6 - Tottenham 0||EPL|
|Nov 10, 2013||Tottenham 0 - Newcastle 1||EPL|
|23||Rafael van der Vaart||Midfielder|
|-||Iván Ramiro Córdoba||Defender|
Gareth Bale was sensational against Inter at San Siro and bagged a brilliant hat-trick. Cynics would suggest that it would be impossible for the Wales international to repeat that heroic performance but playing on the left flank, the 21-year-old will again be looking to terrorise the Nerazzurri backline that has looked vulnerable on several occasions this season.
Wesley Sneijder hasn’t been in the best of forms so far this campaign but the Dutch international remains the creative mind in the Inter midfield. In Rafael Benitez’s 4-2-3-1 formation, the former Real Madrid midfielder will be the creator-in-chief. If he dominates the midfield, then Spurs are in for a tough time.