Inter Milan will look to get their first win in the UEFA Champions League when they face high-flying Sheriff Tiraspol at San Siro on Tuesday.

Inter Milan are coming on the back of their first Serie A loss of the season against Lazio at the weekend. Simone Inzaghi’s side were outthought and outplayed by his former side and he will be keen to bounce back against Sheriff Tiraspol.

The Nerazzurri, for all their dominance domestically, have struggled to make a mark in Europe. They have picked up just one point from their opening two games and will need to get all three on Tuesday.

Sheriff, meanwhile, have been the competition’s fairytale side so far. They have won both their games including a stunning 2-1 win away at the Santiago Bernabeu last time around. They can add another scalp to their already impressive quiver.

The Moldovan giants have won their last five matches in all competitions and are coming off a 4-0 drubbing of Sfintul Gheorghe. Yuriy Vernydub’s side have momentum on their side and will hope to take a massive step towards qualifying for the Last 16 by going all out at Inter.

Inzaghi and Inter, meanwhile, have no room for error. Dropping three points, especially at home could prove detrimental in their hopes to qualify for the next round. The Serie A champions have shown their soft underbelly in recent games and are there for the taking. It may not be a do or die game for the Italians yet. However, any dropped points could see them against the wall in the remaining three games.

While the Nerazzurri still go into the game as favourites, it will not come as a surprise should Sheriff put them under the pump. We at The Hard Tackle now take a look at how both sides will line up and what tactics they could employ on the night.

Team News & Tactics

Inter Milan

Stefano Sensi and Gabriel Brazao are unlikely to be risked in this massive game at the San Siro. Inter have no fresh injuries to worry about and Inzaghi is not short of options at his disposal. The Italian could be set to recall some of his big guns such as Denzel Dumfries, Lautaro Martinez and Matias Vecino. All three players started on the bench against Lazio.

Inter are expected to line up once again in their 3-5-2 system. It can shift to a 5-3-2 while defending and help the home side over against Sheriff’s devastating counters. Samir Handanovic looks set to start in goal with the back three of Alessandro Bastoni, Stefan de Vrij and Milan Skriniar ahead of him.

Ivan Perisic struggled to impress in an advanced role against Lazio and could return to the wing-back role on the left flank. Dutch international Dumfries could replace Matteo Darmian on the other flank, offering the home side an attacking alternative. The full-back duo could push forward in unison, forcing Sheriff to sit deep and soak up the pressure.

The midfield three of Matias Vecino, Marcelo Brozovic and Nicolo Barella have a crucial role to play on the night. The crux of moving the ball forward is likely to fall on Barella who is adept at just that. The Italian international looks set to be the primary force of creativity from midfield and will be tasked with making the offensive moves. The better Vecino and Brozovic can control the midfield, the easier their teammate’s task will be.

Inter’s best strikeforce of Lautaro Martinez and Edin Dzeko look set to start upfront. Both players proved ineffective at the weekend and will be keen to make amends. The Italians will definitely carve out opportunities but as Real Madrid found out, it pays for little unless you are clinical in the box.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Handanovic; Bastoni, De Vrij, Skriniar; Perisic, Vecino, Brozovic, Barella, Dumfries; Martinez, Dzeko

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Sheriff Tiraspol

The Moldovan giants often use a 4-3-3 system but could be set to revert to a 4-2-3-1 at San Siro. Striker Lovro Bizjak is the only player out and Sheriff have an otherwise fully fit squad to choose from. The impressive Georgios Athanasiadis was the hero against Real Madrid and kept out wave after wave of Spanish attacks. He looks set to start in goal and will hope to keep Inter at bay.

The South American pair of Danilo Arboleda and Gustavo Delanto will resume their partnership at the heart of the defence with Brazilian duo Cristiano and Fernando Costanza providing width on the flanks. Sebastian Thill and Edmund Addo will be tasked with getting their foot in the midfield and provide a screen for the rearguard. Just how well the duo is capable of stopping Barella could make the difference.

Winning the midfield battle could pave the way for Dimitris Kolovos, skipper Frank Castaneda and Adama Traore to work their magic in the attack. On-loan Legia Warsaw striker Jasurbek Yakhshiboev will be expected to lead the line and make life difficult for the home side.

The Moldovans will be expected to sit back and soak in the pressure before hitting Inter on the break. With Ivan Perisic and Denzel Dumfries likely to get forward, there will be space for both Castaneda and Traore to run into. A lot too could depend on just how well the Sheriff midfield can bog down Inter in the middle. Unless Inzaghi’s sideshow tactical discipline, the numbers in the midfield could prove telling.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Athanasiadis; Cristiano, Arboleda, Dulanto, Costanza; Thill, Addo; Castaneda, Kolovos, Traore; Yakhshiboev

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Key Stats

  • Inter Milan have failed to score in five of their last seven games in the UEFA Champions League.
  • Sheriff, meanwhile, go into the game in top form and have won their last five games in all competitions. They are also on a 19-game unbeaten run (16 wins, 3 draws).
  • The first Moldovan side to ever reach the group stages of the UEFA Champions League, Sheriff have a 100 per cent record in Europe’s top competition.
  • Inter Milan have not made it to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League since 2011/12. They have since crashed out thrice at the group stage.
  • This is the first meeting between both sides in a competitive setup.

Player to Watch

Nicolo Barella

Will Manchester United get their hands on Barella, or will he end up donning the blues of Chelsea? (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Nicolo Barella could prove to be the difference-maker on the night. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

The Italian international is, on his day, the best player on the pitch. He could once again hold the key for Inter to make their impact on the field. Barella was one of the few Nerazzurri players to come out of the Lazio loss with credit.

He won the penalty for Inter at Lazio and made several runs into the opposition rearguard. With Perisic and Dumfries offering the width, it will be on Barella to make the driving runs in the middle of the pitch. Just how well Sheriff shackle the Italian ace could prove to be the difference on the night.

Prediction

Inter Milan 1-1 Sheriff Tiraspol

Inter Milan have the home advantage and also the urgency to get all three points. However, that could see them fail to maintain their tactical discipline, permitting Sheriff to hit them on the counter.

The Italians are certainly the favourites but have shown themselves to be overwhelmed by the occasion of the Champions League. The momentum is currently with the Moldovans and it will not come as a surprise if they go on to get themselves a draw on the night.

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