Inter Milan vs. Tottenham: Complete Europa League Preview

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Inter Milan vs. Tottenham: Complete Europa League Preview
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Just one week ago, Inter Milan of Serie A and Tottenham Hotspur of the EPL took to the pitch for the first leg of their round of 16 tie in the UEFA Europa League. 

On Thursday, the two big-name clubs will square off at one of the most historic venues in the sport, the Stadio Guiseppe Meazza, or the San Siro as it is known by many. 

First Leg Result:

Tottenham 3, Inter 0

In the first leg at White Hart Lane, Tottenham delivered a stellar performance in front of their home fans. Gareth Bale scored in the sixth minute to give Spurs the early advantage, and they never looked back.

Goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jan Vertonghen gave Andre Villas-Boas' club a healthy advantage heading into Northern Italy. 

One casualty of the first leg result was Bale, who picked up his fifth yellow card of the competition. By picking up that yellow card, the Spurs winger was suspended for the second leg due to yellow card accumulation. 

Team News

Tottenham: 

With Bale out of the lineup because of his disciplinary suspension, Spurs will need someone else to up in the attack. 

One player that could replace Bale in the starting 11 is American Clint Dempsey, who is close to recovering from an injured calf that has kept him out of the Tottenham lineup for the last four matches.

Dempsey's coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, revealed in an interview this week that Dempsey "hopes to play" against Inter on Thursday (via SportingNews.com). 

Another strong attacking player that Tottenham have in their squad could miss out on Thursday's trip to the San Siro.

Aaron Lennon did not start against Liverpool in EPL play on Sunday and the hamstring injury that kept him out of that match could force him to miss the clash with Inter as well (via Daily Mail).

Inter: 

Andrea Stramaccioni was forced to field a weakened starting 11 in the first leg due to an injury crisis at the club. 

The Inter manager was concerned about the selection process for the second leg as well after his club lost to Bologna in Serie A on Sunday. 

“I will again have to make some difficult decisions. We want to honour the game, but my decisions will above all have to be based on fitness levels.”

-Andrea Stramaccioni via Goal.com March 10, 2013.

Players to Watch

Jan Vertonghen, D, Tottenham

Michael Regan/Getty Images

Since arriving at Tottenham this summer from Dutch giants Ajax, Vertonghen has been very impressive at both the center- and left-back positions. 

The 25-year-old Belgian has been starting at his preferred center-back spot for most of the season and he has seen a recent spike in his goal tally as well. 

Vertonghen scored the third goal for Spurs in the first leg against Inter and followed that performance up with two goals in the club's loss to Liverpool on Sunday. 

Tottenham will need a reliable aerial threat to finish on set pieces and the 6'2" defender is exactly that. 

Brad Friedel, GK, Tottenham

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Since losing his starting job to Hugo Lloris in November, Friedel has only seen playing time in Europa League matches.

In the first leg, the former American international was forced into making only one save on his way to a clean sheet.

With Inter facing a steep deficit, there is no doubt that their attack will come at the Spurs defense in a fast and furious manner.

As a veteran of almost every level of competition in world football, Friedel will be relied on by Spurs to keep Inter from scoring and a secure a spot in the quarterfinals for the North London outfit.

Rodrigo Palacio, F, Inter Milan

Claudio Villa/Getty Images

With leading goal-scorer Diego Milito out for the season with a injury (via ESPN), the pressure of scoring has been shifted to the shoulders of Palacio

Palacio played the full 90 minutes against Bologna on Sunday but was unable to find the back of the net. 

In the first leg against Tottenham, Palacio was used as a substitute at halftime but look for him to start in the second leg. 

This season, Palacio has scored 16 goals in all competitions with five of them coming in the Europa League. 

Prediction

Inter 2-1 Tottenham (Tottenham Advances on Aggregate 4-2)

Tottenham brings a massive three-goal advantage into the San Siro and Inter Milan does not have any away goals to break a tie with. 

Despite not having Bale in the lineup, Tottenham should be able to come out of Italy with a berth in the quarterfinals.

Follow me on Twitter, @JTansey90. 

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