Tottenham begin their tough Champions League group away to Inter Milan, as both teams aim to get a winning start after a dismal time domestically.
The Champions League is set to take centre stage as Europe’s premier club competition returns to action. Tottenham begins their group with a trip to Inter Milan on matchday one as the Londoners look to put their recent dismal domestic form behind them and bounce back against the Italians, who themselves are struggling domestically.
Domestically, Tottenham started their Premier League campaign rather brightly winning their first three games, including the 0-3 defeat of Manchester United at Old Trafford. But since then, they have been out of sorts after losing first to Watford and later the past weekend to Liverpool at home.
Spurs, however, travel to San Siro where their last visit was a memorable 4-3 defeat, with Gareth Bale taking centre stage with an astonishing hattrick.
But it’s been so long since the Welshman departed the club, but Mauricio Pochettino’s side have since become a force domestically, and last season they seemingly made their intentions clear with a thrilling win over eventual champions Real Madrid during the group stages. Spurs, however, need to get to a winning start to have a decent grip on a group which also consists of PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona.
Inter Milan on the other hand return to playing Champions League football after more than half a decade. The 2009/10 Champions League winners last played in the competition during the 2011/12 season, but this journey could be cut short with Tottenham and Barcelona the headline makers in their group.
Luciano Spalletti’s side, much like Spurs will look to leave their abysmal domestic form behind to focus on progressing out of their tight group. Additionally, there is the pressure of winning at home, something Inter have failed so far in two games this season, with Torino drawing their match and Inter losing to Parma over the weekend. But with Tottenham, it won’t be easy for them, but it does promise to be a cracker.
Team News & Tactics
Luciano Spalletti will have some decisions to make regarding his team selection for the Tottenham game. Tactically Inter need to change, for their formula isn’t working so far, and Spalletti is expected to make some tweaks there as well.
Captain Mauro Icardi, who was rested for the game against Parma over the weekend with an eye on the Spurs game is set to return to the starting lineup. Icardi has also suffered a recent muscle injury, although the skipper is expected to be fully fit.
But one player who might likely be missing out is right-back Sime Vrsaljko, who suffered a knee injury while on International duty with Croatia. That apart, Spalletti has a full-strength squad at his disposal and might make full use of it.
Stephan De Vrij and Radja Nainggolan will make their Champions League debuts with Inter in this game as they are set to start for their team. Samir Handanovic will be the goalkeeper with D’Ambrosio at right-back replacing the doubtful Vrsaljko. Skriniar and Dalbert will complete Inter’s defence, while Spaletti will start with two central midfielders in Brozovic and Gagliardini.
Ivan Perisic, Nainggolan and Candreva will be supported in the attack, and Icardi will finish the team set up as Inter’s central striker.
Probable Starting-XI (4-2-3-1) – Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, De Vrij, Skriniar, Dalbert; Brozovic, Gagliardini; Candreva, Nainggolan, Perisic; Icardi
Mauricio Pochettino too could make some much-needed changes to his Tottenham side that lost to Liverpool over the weekend. He would likely start with the formation and bring back his trusted three-man defence system in place against Inter. Davinson Sanchez could return to the squad to form a defensive partnership with Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld.
Moussa Sissoko and Juan Foyth are the absentees for Tottenham along with Vincent Janssen and Hugo Lloris. In that case, despite making some errors during the Liverpool defeat, Michael Vorm could continue in goal for Spurs.
Trippier and Davies are likely to start in the wing-back roles, while Harry Winks might be dropped to the bench in favour of an extra man in defence. On the other hand, Erik Lamela and Serge Aurier are also eyeing starting berths, but the chances are that they might only feature from the bench.
Son Heung-Min could return the starting lineup alongside Christian Eriksen and centre-forward Harry Kane.
Probable Starting-XI (3-4-3) – Vorm; Sanchez, Alderweireld, Vertonghen; Trippier, Dier, Dembele, Davies; Son, Eriksen, Kane
- Inter Milan and Tottenham have played five times before winning two each, as well as both winning their two previous home encounters.
- The last four meetings have seen 19 goals scored with Inter scoring nine and Spurs ten.
- The teams last met in the Champions League during the 2010/11 Group stages, but their last European meeting was during the 2012/13 Europa League.
- This would be Inter Milan’s first appearance in the Champions League since the 2011/12 edition, and before that, they qualified for ten seasons in a row.
- Tottenham have only one victory in nine away games on Italian soil, which incidentally was at the San Siro, beating AC Milan.
Player to Watch
Since scoring at Old Trafford, Harry Kane has cut a frustrated figure in front of goal for, and incidentally, those two games resulted in a defeat. With many claims that the striker might be fatigued due to regular games, especially after his exploits at the World Cup, Kane must be desperate to prove his doubters wrong with s strong showing against Inter Milan.
Then there is the case of keeping up in the group which also consists Barcelona, which means that Inter and Tottenham will both be eyeing the only other spot which will ensure passage into the next round. Kane’s performance against Inter would be fundamental to ensure Spurs are in a good position in their group, starting with a win over Inter Milan.
Inter Milan 1-2 Tottenham
The gulf between the two sides regarding their quality is quite visible. Although both teams are in a lousy shape currently, Tottenham have at least showed what they are capable of earlier in the season, but Inter have been disappointing since the start of the season.
That said, the prediction goes towards a Tottenham win, especially with Mauricio Pochettino demanding answers and an appropriate response to their latest slump. Spurs with the quality of payers on board are capable of returning home with all three points against Inter Milan.