Inter Milan will be hoping to secure a place in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 when they welcome PSV Eindhoven to San Siro on Tuesday.
The stakes are higher than ever before as the final matchday in the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League group stage comes about this week. One of the two games in Group B will see Inter Milan take on PSV Eindhoven at San Siro on Tuesday, with the hosts needing to secure more points than Tottenham to progress to the Round of 16.
Group B of the UEFA Champions League is quite evenly poised, with two spots yet to be finalised. While Barcelona have confirmed their place as group winners, PSV Eindhoven will finish rock-bottom. But, Inter and Tottenham are level on seven points, and have it all to play for on Matchday 6.
In fact, the 1-0 loss to Tottenham last month means Inter have to grab more points than Spurs in order to qualify for the knockout stages for the first time since the 2014-15 season. Their recent form though, does not inspire a lot of confidence, with the Nerazzurri failing to win any of their last three games.
PSV, on the other hand, followed up their narrow defeat to Barcelona with their first loss in the Eredivisie. But, the Dutch champions come into Tuesday’s game on the back of a 6-0 win over Excelsior, which has seen them stay two points ahead of Ajax atop the Eredivisie table.
The reverse fixture, played on Matchday 2, saw Inter Milan come from behind to beat PSV 2-1, with Radja Nainggolan and Mauro Icardi scoring the goals. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the UEFA Champions League encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Luciano Spalletti has just one pressing concern to deal with ahead of the visit of PSV Eindhoven. On Tuesday, the Inter Milan boss is set to be without Matias Vecino, who hasn’t completed his recovery from a thigh injury.
Crucially for the hosts though, Radja Nainggolan has proven his fitness, and has been included in the matchday squad to face the Dutch giants. Having gone off injured in the loss to Tottenham, Nainggolan will be crucial in the Nerazzurri’s output in the final third on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Vecino aside, Spalletti will be able to field his strongest lineup.
Samir Handanovic should start in goal, providing his imposing presence inside the box. Sime Vrsaljko should be the right-back, and his marauding runs will be crucial for Inter in the final third, while Danilo D’Ambrosio is likely to be deployed on the opposite flank.
At the heart of the Inter Milan defence, Milan Skriniar is a certain starter, with the returning Stefan de Vrij likely to be his partner. In midfield, Marcelo Brozovic will be a pivotal figure in the absence of Vecino, with the tenacious Borja Valero expected to provide him company.
The attacking quartet, meanwhile, is more or less an automatic selection following the return of Radja Nainggolan. The Belgian midfielder should start in the free role behind Mauro Icardi, with Ivan Perisic and Matteo Politano being the wingers. The wide duo will provide a dynamic presence with their ability to cut in and drift wide.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Handanovic; Vrsaljko, de Vrij, Skriniar, D’Ambrosio; Valero, Brozovic; Politano, Nainggolan, Perisic; Icardi
Mark van Bommel does not have a lot of injury troubles hampering his preparations for the trip to Milan either. The PSV boss is without just Ryan Thomas, who is recovering from a long-term knee injury and is likely to remain sidelined for the rest of the season.
Van Bommel though, has all the eleven players that have featured regularly for him this season, meaning the visitors will fancy their chances of registering their first Champions League win of the campaign and bow out of Europe on a high on Tuesday.
Jeroen Zoet has provided a reliable presence in goal for the Dutch giants, and his performance will be key for the visitors. Daniel Schwaab and Nick Viergever should be the central defensive pairing, with Denzel Dumfries and Angelino being the full-backs charging up and down either flank.
In midfield, Jorrit Hendrix will hope to provide the cover to the backline, with Pablo Rosario looking to make an impact on either end of the pitch with an energetic display. Gaston Pereiro will be the creator-in-chief for PSV, looking to link up with wide men Steven Bergwijn and Hirving Lozano.
Bergwijn and Lozano could be seen playing on both flanks, with van Bommel looking to make good use of the duo’s versatility during different junctures of the match. The PSV attack though, will be led by in-form captain Luuk de Jong, who will hope to inspire the consolation win for his side.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Zoet; Dumfries, Schwaab, Viergever, Angelino; Rosario, Hendrix; Bergwijn, Pereiro, Lozano; De Jong
- Inter Milan have won all three of their previous competitive meetings with PSV, with each of their clashes coming in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League.
- In fact, the Nerazzurri haven’t lost any of their last 10 European fixtures against Dutch sides (W7 D3), with Feyenoord being the last Eredivisie outfit to beat them, in April 2002.
- PSV are winless in their last 12 Champions League away games (D3 L9), losing each of the last four in a row by an aggregate scoreline of 2-12.
- PSV have faced more shots than any other side in the Champions League this season (121), conceding at least 21 in each of their five group games so far.
- Luuk de Jong has scored each of PSV’s last three Champions League goals. The only other players to score four consecutive goals for the Dutch side in the competition were Danny Koevermans in 2008 and Ruud van Nistelrooy in 1998.
Player to Watch
The attack needs to come to the party for Inter Milan, if they are to book their place in the Round of 16. But, the Nerazzurri’s output in the final third has been poor over the last three matchdays, and it will be up to Radja Nainggolan to bring the cutting edge in attack on Tuesday.
The Belgian midfielder’s ability to test the goalkeeper from range will be key, especially if PSV manage to frustrate the hosts. Nainggolan will also play a crucial role in nipping the PSV counter-attacks in the bud and ensure Inter retain control of the match.
Inter Milan 2-1 PSV Eindhoven
After a strong start to their UEFA Champions League group stage campaign, things have gone horribly wrong in the last two months for Inter Milan. Having managed to rack up just a solitary point in their last three games, the Nerazzurri come into the game needing to better Tottenham’s points haul to book their place in the Round of 16.
PSV, on the other hand, have nothing to lose, with their place as the bottom feeders of Group B confirmed. And, such sides are often the most dangerous to deal with, especially considering the Dutch giants have been far from the whipping boys of their group.
We expect the match to be a closely contested affair, with PSV running Inter Milan close. But, Luciano Spalletti’s men should have enough quality in their ranks to grab all three points, before hoping Tottenham slip up at Camp Nou.