Tottenham host Inter Milan at White Hart Lane on Thursday night in the last-sixteen of the Europa League.
Thursday’s clash is the first between the sides since Gareth Bale’s hat-trick at the San Siro in 2010.
Tottenham will be full of confidence following last weekend’s 2-1 win over North London rivals, Arsenal. The win put Spurs in third place in the Premier League, just five points behind second-placed Manchester City. That win extended their unbeaten Premier League run to twelve games, a club record.
In contrast, Inter Milan have been very inconsistent this season. Andrea Stramaccioni’s side sit in fourth place in Serie A, with just three wins in their last twelve games. They are a shadow of the side that won the Champions League under Jose Mourinho in 2010, and will be up against it at White Hart Lane. The Nerazzurri’s away form is laughable, accumulating just four points form their last eight away league games. Their defence is as leaky as a rusty bucket and they have conceded 19 goals in their last eight Serie A games away from the San Siro.
The sides last met in 2010, when Gareth Bale scored a hat-trick and gave Maicon a roasting reminiscent of a Christmas turkey. However, many people tend to forget that Inter won the game 4-3 and they will be hoping for a similar result on Wednesday.
Brad Friedel will once again man the European posts for Spurs, with Hugo Lloris dropping to the bench. Moussa Dembele is a doubt with a knee injury and faces a late fitness test. The Belgian has been a key component to Tottenham’s recent success and he will be a huge loss. Clint Dempsey is still suffering from a calf injury and is unlikely to feature. Younes Kaboul, Sandro, and Tom Huddlestone are all absentees with knee injuries, while Adebayor needs to prove his fitness.
There is positive news for Andre Villas-Boas however, as Jermaine Defoe is expected to return to the starting eleven.
Inter Milan have plenty of injury concerns to contend with ahead of the game. most notably top-scorer Diego Milito who has been ruled out for the season.The Internazionale defence has been very suspect this season, and their chances have been further hampered by injuries to Andrea Ranocchia and veteran Walter Samuel.
Antonio Cassano and Andrea Stramaccioni should put their differences aside, with the former returning to the starting line-up following a disagreement with the Nerazzurri boss.
Players to Watch
Gareth Bale has been the stand-out performer in a highly successful season for Tottenham. He continues to wow audiences with stunning goals and has attracted the interest of Europe’s elite. Bale has a history of good performances against the Nerazzurri, scoring a hat-trick at the San Siro and picking up two wonderful assists in the return fixture. Javier Zanetti will be tasked with putting a stop to the Welshman and will need to use all his experience if he is to come out of Wednesday’s game with his reputation intact.
Rodrigo Palacio has been the leading light for Inter this season, despite numerous performances off the bench. The 31-year-old Argentinian has been involved in 23 goals this season. His recent run of form continued on Sunday, where he finished with an assist and a stoppage-time winner. With Diego Milito ruled out for the remainder of the season, the Nerazzurri will need Palacio to step up to the plate.
Tottenham and Inter Milan are two teams going in opposite directions. Tottenham are enjoying their longest unbeaten run since the foundation of the Premier League, while Inter Milan continue to descend into mediocrity.