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UEFA Champions match preview: Inter Milan vs Tottenham

Harry Kane

Midfielder Dele Alli (hamstring) remains unavailable after missing Spurs’ defeat by Liverpool on Saturday, as does captain Hugo Lloris (thigh).

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino made a “technical decision” to omit defenders Toby Alderweireld and Kieran Trippier from his side’s Champions League opener against Inter Milan.

Moussa Sissoko (hamstring) is also absent for the match at the San Siro. “You cannot bring 25 players and can only play 11,” said Pochettino. “That is the reason. It was a technical decision. You can find it in the dictionary, maybe tactical also on the pitch – yes, it’s tactical too.”

Italian giants Inter Milan return to Champions League action following a six-year absence but suffered a 1-0 defeat by Parma on Saturday as their indifferent Serie A start continued.

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Forward Mauro Icardi should return to Luciano Spalletti’s starting XI after the Argentine was a substitute in that match, but Danilo d’Ambrosio faces a late fitness test.

Kane vs Icardi

‘Disneyland of football’

In his pre-match media conference, Spalletti described the Champions League as “the Disneyland of football”, and Inter’s long-awaited return to Europe’s top competition promises to produce a special atmosphere at the San Siro on Tuesday.

This fixture has provided plenty of entertainment in the past, with a total of 19 goals in four previous meetings, including seven the last time Inter hosted Spurs in the Champions League.

Gareth Bale struck a hat-trick on that occasion, in the 2010-11 group stage, although the Italian outfit eventually won a breathless match 4-3 before the English side claimed a 3-1 victory at White Hart Lane.

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Tottenham also progressed on away goals in a 2012-13 Europa League last-16 tie, following a 4-4 aggregate result – but can we expect goals once more?

While Pochettino’s men have lost their past two domestic matches, to Watford and most recently Liverpool, the Nerazzurri have won only one of their opening four league games – so both sides will be looking for a confidence boost as the race to progress from Group B gets underway.

With La Liga winners Barcelona and Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven to come, a positive start looks crucial to either side’s hopes.

‘Kane looks in excellent shape’ – what they said

Inter Milan manager Luciano Spalletti: “We’ve seen Tottenham’s last games. They’re a very strong team, as are Inter. To me, Harry Kane seems to be in excellent shape and he’s a very important player for how they play. He’s very good at laying the ball off and always picking out his team-mates in the right way.

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“Are they the favourites? I think that my players have enough will and determination to be in this competition that we spent an entire season fighting for. We cannot feel any pressure or be intimidated by the English players’ greater experience. I believe that this match is the chance to kick into gear.”

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino: “It will be a very competitive group stage and it’s very important for us to get a positive result. Both teams arrive in a similar situation and we’re both going to fight to change that feeling.

“We have to show our best and show we deserve to be a contender. We need to be consistent. If we are going to be a contender then we need to improve a lot.

“If not we will be a good team, we will win some and lose some, but a contender is different.”

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Home side favourites in this fixture – the stats

  • This will be the fifth meeting between Inter and Tottenham, with both sides winning two matches so far.
  • Both Inter and Tottenham have won their two previous home games against the other, with neither side managing to pick up a victory on the road.
  • Of the 19 goals in the past four meetings, the Italian outfit scored nine and Spurs 10.
  • After qualifying for the competition for 10 successive years between 2002-03 and 2011-12, Inter Milan return to the Champions League for the first time in six years, their longest wait since the rebranding of the tournament in 1992-93.
  • Tottenham have won just one of their previous nine matches away from home against Italian opposition, losing four, but that victory came at the San Siro against AC Milan – thanks to a Peter Crouch winner.
  • Tottenham only lost one of their eight Champions League games last season – the second leg of their last-16 match, 2-1 against Juventus.
  • Tottenham striker Harry Kane has scored nine goals in 10 Champions League appearances in his career. The fastest players to 10 Champions League goals are Adriano, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino (11 apps) – Harry Kane could equal this if he scores in his first UCL appearance of 2018-19.

‘Group of death’ – Tottenham’s chance of progress

Gracenote’s head of sports analysis Simon Gleave: “Tottenham’s group is certainly this season’s group of death with all four teams ranked in the top 35 clubs in Europe according to the Euro Club Index. However, Tottenham are ranked as the 11th best team in Europe so they and top-ranked Barcelona are the favourites to progress. The draw was slightly unkind to Tottenham as it reduced the club’s chances of progress from 76% to 71% but others in this group got a worse deal. PSV managed to draw the three hardest possible opponents so saw their chances of making the last 16 halve from 28% to 14%.”

Source: BBC News

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