What: Inter's second bite at the chicken (or does this count as third?). Europa League Round of 16, First Leg
Where: London. Ick.
When: Thursday, 8:05pm local time (12:05pm pacific, 3:05pm eastern)
How to Watch: Live on Fox Soccer Channel (YAY! other channels here), streaming on ESPN3 and Fox Soccer 2Go (other streams here).
Do we really have to talk about the past? Alright. So we met them in the Champions League and let a home 4-0 lead slip to a 4-3. Then, we went to London and had our asses handed to us to the tune of 3-1. It wasn't pretty and those stupid chicken crowed like mad about it (boy chickens). Remember, that last time we were the reigning Champions League winners and they were just a midtable EPL team. Now... well... Ugh. At least we will be spared the highlights. UEFA is persnickety about that and they have all been removed (whew). I suspect, though, that Bale's three goals are playing through your head as you read this anyway.
|How about a good memory from that 3-1 loss. I sure miss Samu.|
What the hell do I know about the EPL? (Answer: Not a damn thing!). Ok, a little research shows that they are third in the Barclay's Premier League (hence to be known as the EPL - I dont care, that's what I call it and if you disagree, get a blog and call it what you want) and are unbeaten in their EL league campaign (3 wins, 3 draws). Their coach is our old friend André Villas-Boas (remember, he was Mourinho's assistant during his first year at Inter), and they have only lost two games at home in the EPL (plus a couple more in the various cup tournaments). Oh, and they just beat Arsenal over the weekend. So they are doing pretty well. Ugh.
As for formations, AVB says that Dembele is fit but Adebayor isn't, probably. Gareth Bale will probably feature. Um. Hugo Lloris will likely be in goal. Um. Vertonghen in defense? Lennon somewhere in the middle? I guess? Who am I kidding, I just cant fake it - I have no idea. And I'm not sure it really matters. After all, if we want to get to the next level we will have to beat them, no matter who AVB sends out.
|Argument, what argument? Everyone is training all nicey nice now. via www.inter.it|
We have 21 players in London:
Goalkeepers: Handanovic, Belec, Di Gennaro
Defenders: Ranocchia, Chivu, Pasa, Pereira, Mbaye, Juan Jesus, Jonathan;
Midfielders: Zanetti, Alvarez, Guarin, Cambiasso, Gargano, Benassi, Kovacic, Belloni;
Forwards: Palacio, Cassano, Colombi.
Once again, our lack of forwards scares the poop out of me. Seriously, a lot. Notice the six (6!) Primavera players in this squad. Plus, Guarin and Ranocchia are not 100% and will be evaluated before the game. Strama said: "we can't risk losing more players to injury because, while we have to honour tomorrow's challenge, our goal is third place in the league." So....
La Gazzetta thinks we will play a 4-2-3-1:
And if Rano is really out then that means... Jonathan?!?! Holy crap please no not that anything but that (breathing).
Right. So pep talk time. I know this is a scary field for us. Many of us had nightmares featuring Bale. But, statistically speaking, we are actually pretty evenly matched. UEFA gives us this lovely graphic:
So maybe we will be ok. Right? Right!
Now I have to go to bed. I have a lots and lots of work to do tomorrow and I have to get up early. Ick.
Meet the new keeper, just in time for his probable Inter debut this weekend.