Internazionale (Italy) (Away)
Champions League

Wednesday 20th October 2010

This is the sort of game that we have been waiting for.  Holders of the Champions League Internazionale away in the San Siro.  They don't come much bigger than that and they don't come much tougher than that either.

With Both teams having won one and drawn one, they sit joint top of the group table, but these two back-to-back matches against the Italian champions can determine where we will end up come January ... in the Champions League or the Europa League.

And the way the group has been going, it has not been all Inter's way, with a tough draw in Holland, followed by a comfortable 4-0 defeat of Werder Bremen with a Samuel Eto'o hat-trick.  And it is Eto'o who is making all the difference to the Italian team's form scoring most of the goals in the recent weeks.  Making his impact on the game negligible could be the way to get something from it.  But that will be difficult for Spurs, who once more are left short at the back by injuries and also are hit hard by the absence of Rafael van der Vaart for his sending off in the previous game against Twente Enschede.

With one striker out in Diego Milito, Eto'o has proved prolific and having been loved out to the left, he can cut inside and hit a right footer.  Esteban Cambiasso might be fit after all having suffered a thigh injury too, and his position in midfield is crucial to the functioning of the Inter side.  They are blessed with high quality players there, with Javier Zanetti, Dejan Stankovic, Wesley Sneijder and Sulley Muntari, with the injury prone Tiago Motta also being available to call on.  Sneijder had a great World Cup, but has suffered a bit of a hang-over as a number of players have since the tournament.  Zanetti is still a perceptive passer of the ball and Muntari is a midfielder who has long been linked with Tottenham.

The defence also features a list of familiar names.  The rugged Ivan Cordoba, ruthless Lucio, strapping Walter Samuel, ball playing Cristian Chivu (who is backing up Eto'o on the left) and the man who was on the end of Zidane's head-butt in the World Cup final - Marco Materrazi.  And that is not to mention Brazilian over-lapping full back Maicon.  A defence that will be a tough one to break down, as proved in last year's competition when they held out against Barcelona in the semi, with just ten men for a long time.

Julio Cesar, the Brazilian keeper, will be at one end, while his national team back up Heurelho Gomes will be at the other.  Cesar is a very good all round keeper, but is not infallible and his kicking is not that great, while he can leave his defence in a panic when coming for crosses he might never reach.

So, where do Tottenham stand a chance against this team of winners ?

Well, they are no longer managed by the Special One and now have Rafa Benitez in charge.  His tactics are a little more circumspect than Mourinho's, so there might be some scope for Spurs to capitalise should Inter sit back at any stage.  The best way to approach these games, as Harry Redknapp has proved, is not to fear the opposition and to have a go.  While it might shock Inter, I can't imagine them being pegged back for 90 minutes, but they might not have faced players like Crouch and Bale before and their contribution could be crucial to Spurs coming home with any sort of result.

The patched up defence will have to wait until January to be sorted out, as Gallas and Bassong are likely to face Inter and they will do a job, but it will need a supreme effort to shake the foundations of the Milan side ...

PREDICTION : -    Internazionale    2      Tottenham Hotspur    1


INTERNAZIONALE :  Diego Milito (out - thigh); - (-); - (-); 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Younes Kaboul (doubtful - hamstring); Jermain Defoe (out - ankle), Michael Dawson (out - knee & ankle), Jonathan Woodgate (out - groin), Jamie O'Hara (out - back);  Ledley King (out - knee); Rafael van der Vaart (out - suspended); Sandro (out - ineligible); - (-);


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Radio :  
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 (live coverage)
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If available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard in these countries on these stations ...
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North America (USA, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean)  Sirius Satellite Radio  Live transmission: Saturday - 12.45, 15.00 (TWI) & 17.15 (BBC) Sunday - 14.00 & 16.05 (BBC) Mon, Tue, Wed - Various times (BBC)

Internet :   Live webcast  - subscribers only
BBC London -
click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.


Internazionale   4    Tottenham Hotspur   3      (Half-time score : 4-0)

Champions League
Venue :  -   Giuseppe Meazza Stadium (San Siro)
Wednesday 20th October 2010
Kick Off :  19.45 p.m.
Crowd :   70,520
Referee :  Damir Slomina (Slovenia)
Weather :  -  Warm, dry
Teams : - 
Internazionale :

  1  Cesar

13  Maicon
25  Samuel
  6  Lucio
  4  Zanetti (c)   

26  Chivu       (27  Pandev 61)
  5  Stankovic   (39  Santon 50)
10  Sneijder
29  Coutinho

88  Biabiany  (  2  Cordoba 75)
18  Eto'o     

Unused subs:
12  Castellazzi
23  Materazzi
11  Muntari
19  Cambiasso

Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes      

  2  Hutton 
13  Gallas 
19  Bassong 
32  Assou-Ekotto 

  7  Lennon
  6  Huddlestone (c)  (12  Palacios  80     )
  8  Jenas 
  3  Bale     

14  Modric (23  Cudicini  8)

15  Crouch (10  Keane 67)

Unused subs: 
  5  Bentley
  4  Kaboul
21  Kranjcar
  9  Pavlyuchenko

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of

All white with navy trim

  Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  

Zanetti  2
Eto'o (p)  11
Stankovic  14
Eto'o 35

Tottenham Hotspur

Bale 52
Bale 90
Bale 90+1

Cards : -  

Chivu (foul)  17


Tottenham Hotspur  

Palacios (foul) 89  

Gomes (foul) 8

Match Report : -  
For the first thirty five minutes of this match, it looked as though Spurs might be heading for their record defeat and the record defeat in the competition after a nightmare start to the game against Inter Milan.  But then, with a lack of numbers, they made Milan look fallible and almost pulled off a stunning comeback.

With a goal scored by Javier Zanetti inside the first two minutes and on eight minutes being down to ten men, when Heurelho Gomes was sent off in conceding a penalty, it looked like all the evils had come to visit Tottenham at once.  The first goal came as a result of some crisp passing and movement that saw Jermaine Jenas leave Zanetti to run wide on the left of the Spurs box to curl past Gomes from 15 yards out.  75 seconds gone and Spurs had been pulled around by the home team's passing and they were soon to be opened up again.

A quick pass from the centre circle freed Biabiany on the Inter right and the ball had been playing inside a static Assou-Ekotto.  By the time he had turned the French striker was ahead of him and heading for the area, where Gomes came out to meet him and upended him after the ball wad dinked over him.  BAE covered and got to the ball before the Inter man, but the referee had blown for a penalty and following consultation with the official behind the goal, produced the red card for our Brazilian keeper.

At that point a thrashing was on the cards, with Eto'o stepping up to convert the spot-kick past Carlo Cudicini, whose first task was to pick the ball out of the back of the net.  Luka Modric had been the unfortunate player who had to make way for Cudicini to come on, but it was the move that meant that little was sticking up front, with Peter Crouch playing the lone striker role already and now having on less player to support him to lay it off to.

With Jenas and Huddlestone having to put a lot of effort in to keep the middle of midfield shored up, the third goal came as a bit of a body blow.  Thirty odd passes led up to the goal, with Eto'o playing Dejan Stankovic in to side-step weak challenges from Huddlestone and Bassong to pick his time to slide the ball into the right hand bottom corner of Cudicini's net for 3-0 in the 14th minute.  The Spurs players might have been a little terrified to tackle, with one player already having been dismissed, but it was a piece of poor defending that gave Inter a big lead with less than an eighth of the game gone.

At this stage of the match, it was just a question of how many Internazionale might score, as they looked capable of netting every time they went forward.  As for Spurs, they were doing well to hold onto the ball and keep it away from their goal.  Cudicini stood as Eto'o smashed a volley to high and then the keeper had to dive to beat out Stankovic's volley that he struck into the ground and the Italian was lucky to see the ball be hacked away after originally hitting Gallas in the back.

Tottenham's first chance of the game came when Aaron Lennon found himself in space on the right wing.  Without anyone to back him up, he made towards the dead-ball line, then returned the way he came when faced with two defenders, putting a good left footed cross to the far post, where Peter Crouch had jumped too soon and headed the ball as he was on the way down and putting it over the top.  A better jump would have given him a good opportunity to get an effort on target or to head it back across goal.

Spurs were defending with great heart, as Hutton and Bassong both threw good blocks in front of shots from Biabiany and Eto'o, but in the 35th minute, the fourth goal came for Milan and it looked then as it would be the one that knocked the stuffing out of Tottenham.  The young Brazilian Coutinho had made some good moves on the ball, but his pass into the left hand side of the Spurs box, once more found a player breaking onto it and this time it was Eto'o, who prodded the ball as Gallas closed him down and Cudicini came out, getting a bit of luck as the ball hit the keeper, but bounced up off him and into the net to make it 4-0.

The keeper got a good save in when Eto'o was once more presented with a shooting chance, getting behind the ball and spilling it, but pouncing on the loose ball to gather it in and then he had to be sharp to beat out two shots from the right as full back Maicon strode forward into the area and Carlo stopped one shot at his near post and then as the defence failed to respond to the rebound, he reacted well to keep out another powerful drive.

Those stops kept Spurs 0-4 behind when the half-time whistle blew and we all waited to see how the team would cope in the second half, with heavy legs and a man down.  The Spurs fans were concerned and while they had been in good voice until the second goal, a subdued atmosphere hung over the upper tier they occupied. 

When the second half started, Spurs made a good beginning, with Lennon making the Italian defence look slow by darting away to fire a cross in, but it was too hard for Tom Huddlestone to make up the ground to get on the end of it.  An early substitution brought on David Santon for the injured Stankovic and the change seemed to upset Inter to start with.  When an attack broke down, Huddlestone picked up the ball and played it to Peter Crouch, who touched it on to Gareth Bale just twenty yards inside his own half.  With one or two touches of the ball, he had motored into the opposition half, racing past Maicon and then Zanetti, as he ran into the box and with Cesar neither getting close to him or narrowing the angle, he struck a low shot to the keeper's left and the ball nestled in the netting down by the stanchion to make the score 4-1.

Inter Milan tried to settle down to playing their passing game and when Santon struck a low shot, Cudicini did well to flop down to his right to palm the ball around the foot of the post, but on the hour, Lennon put in a cross that found it's way to Bale on the far post and he looked like he was going to shoot, but pulled it back for Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who fired it high over the bar. 

It came to the part of the match when a number of substitutions were made and one for Spurs was Keane on for Crouch and another was Palacios replacing Huddlestone.  Palacios earned a booking and Keane made an impact by buzzing around the last third.  Spurs were surprisingly looking more comfortable and were holding onto the bal la lot better, as Inter sat off them a bit.  However, it took a great run by Hutton cutting in from the right to hit a left footer that was always going over the top

Then, in the last minute of the 90, Bale nipped the ball away form Lucio on our left wing.  The ball ran free and Jenas played a purposeful pass in front of the Welshman, who picked up the ball five yards in the Inter half, before going on an action replay run of the first goal and finishing in the same manner past a similarly statuesque Cesar.  4-2 and Bale was quick to get the ball back from the net, even though the game looked lost.

With two minutes showing on the fourth official's board, Spurs took possession when Jenas got the ball off Santon inside the Inter half, passed to Lennon on the right and he cut inside to run across the face of the 18 yard line and then released it to Bale, who struck a first time left foot shot that flashed past Cesar in the same way the previous two goals had and as the ball struck the stanchion in the back of the goal, Gareth was celebrating his hat-trick.

What seemed a lost cause, was now becoming a salvageable situation.  Spurs had time for one more attack, when Bale was stopped and claimed a handball, but the play was waved on and then it was over.

What started out to be a bit of a rout, suddenly finished all too soon, as Spurs had the reigning Champions League champions on the rack.  It might be a different story in the second group game against them in two weeks time, but we will have VDV back and Rafa Benitez will realise that it might be a sterner test than he might have thought after 14 minutes of this game.

As for Spurs, they left the San Siro with their heads held high and showed that the Italians are just as vulnerable as we are to letting goals in.  None in their previous five, but three against Spurs.  Here's to that record being added to in the game at the Lane on 2nd November.

Gerry White




Other scores in this group :
FC Twente Enschede (HOL) 1 Werder Bremen (GER) 1 Wednesday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Internazionale 3 2 1 0 10 5 7 +5
2 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 1 1 1 9 7 4 +2
3 FC Twente Enschede 3 0 2 1 4 7 2 -3
4 Werder Bremen 3 0 2 1 3 7 2 -4

Position before the match :  2nd
Position after the match :  2nd

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