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Tottenham Hotspur vs. Inter Milan: Preview

I am fantastic!
I am fantastic!

For their trip to the San Siro, Spurs will be without their new superstar Rafael van der Vaart who was suspended for his red card against FC Twente. This, of course, is icky.

Ledley King and Younes Kaboul have been ruled out as well and the earliest that they could possibly return is for this weekend's fixture against Everton. I think that this is highly unlikely and that we could possibly see both of them against Manchester United. If neither starts against Man United, I'm going to assume that both will start at White Hart Lane against Inter.

Unfortunately, information on Serie A injuries on the internet is considerably less reliable and prevalent than English Premier League injuries, but it appears that Diego Milito will be unavailable for today's tie and Goran Pandev will be available to make his return to the side. On the weekend, Rafa Benitez elected to start Coutinho and Jonathan Babiany on either side of Samuel Eto'o. It wouldn't be surprising to see him select the exact same team, although Pandev could make an appearance. 

I feel the need to reiterate the fact that I'm not sold on the injury information that I have seen and that Diego Milito could get a start. I think the most likely scenario is that Benitez sticks with his front three from the weekend and has one of, if not both of Pandev and Milito on the bench in case Spurs pull off a surprise lead.

So, what do Spurs do without van der Vaart? I think that a starting role for Aaron Lennon and an advanced central role for Luka Modric is in the cards. Could this game also see the return of Wilson Palacios? It seems like a logical move, but I haven't seen him in training or reserve matches. Based on Harry Redknapp's selection of Sandro against Fulham, I think it's safe to say that Palacios is out of favor and nowhere near first, or even second choice. We could see Huddlestone and Modric in the middle of a 4-4-2 formation, but Harry has said himself that he doesn't think he can play 4-4-2 away in Europe. Not to mention, there would probably be an inherent tactical disadvantage in playing 4-4-2 with Modric and Huddlestone in the middle against Inter Milan.

Once again, my Spurs lineup prediction is going to be pulled entirely out of my rear end. Enjoy and comment below on your preferred or predicted lineup.

Projected Inter Milan Lineup (4-2-3-1, or 4-2-1-3 depending on what nit-pickers want to call the wide players): Julio Cesar / Chivu, Samuel, Lucio, Maicon / Zanetti, Stankovic / Coutinho, Sneijder, Babiany / Eto'o

Projected Tottenham Hotspur Lineup (4-4-1-1): Gomes / Assou-Ekotto, Bassong, Gallas, Hutton / Bale, Huddlestone, Jenas, Lennon / Modric / Pavlyuchenko

I'd prefer Crouch and Sandro over Pav and Jenas, but I think Harry will elect for the fresher and more mobile players.

Prediction: Inter Milan 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur. We're not going to get bulldozed like Werder did, but I can't see us winning without VDV in the lineup to pull goals out of nowhere. The only way I can see us winning this match is if Bale goes on a May 2010-esque Bale rampage. Then again, Inter Milan is managed by one of the few men in the world who has great tactical acumen, yet manages to find a way to eff up everything, Rafael Benitez.