When Tottenham meet Inter on Tuesday night, it will be the English side who can boast the most recent Champions League experience, even though the Nerazzurri lifted the trophy under Jose Mourinho in 2010. Spurs have made the group stages in the last three seasons in a row, while a struggling Inter only managed a win over Lazio in the final game of the season to reach the elite competition for the first time since 2011/12.
Such a hiatus has been far to long for a club with such infrastructure, however their supporters will have winced at the draw which pitted them not only against Tottenham, but also versus Barcelona and PSV Eindhoven in Group B.
The club’s Chinese owners Suning have recognised the need in which to strengthen a squad that only just managed to qualify. They invested in the likes of Radja Nainggolan from rivals AS Roma, Croatian World Cup star Sime Vrsaljko, as well as forwards Lautaro Martinez and Keita Balde from Racing Club and AS Monaco respectively.
However, despite such early optimism and talk of challenging Juventus for the title, Inter got off on a bad footing, losing 1-0 to minnows Sassuolo and letting a 2-0 lead to Torino slip to a final score of 2-2 in front of a packed-out San Siro in their opening two Serie A matches. Their latest embarrassment was a 1-0 defeat to Serie A newcomers Parma at home, hardly ideal preparation for an important midweek clash.
Yet there is a window of hope in that the Nerazzurri have won their last four home games versus English opposition, a 1-0 defeat of Southampton in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League group stage their most recent brief highlight in this regard before they ultimately failed to progress beyond the group stage. Inter know they face a difficult challenge once again this season, but are they up to it?
While there is already a contrast in the current form of these two sides, history suggests that the home side is likely to emerge victorious. Indeed, that has been the case in each of their four previous meetings, with Inter recording 4-1 and 4-3 wins at San Siro – the latter of which saw Gareth Bale net a sensational hat trick – but lost on both visits to White Hart Lane.
In the 2010/11 Champions League Group Stage Spurs won 3-1 but both sides progressed, while the English club enjoyed a 3-0 home triumph in the last-16 of the 2012/13 Europa League. That result eventually saw Inter eliminated, and while both teams will be looking to secure early points this season, it is possible we will see a change to that recent pattern.
Inter’s struggles this term perhaps open the door for the North London club to snatch a win, with Matchbook offering interesting odds of 15/8 on them taking all three points away from their visit to Milan.
Choosing an outright winner might be difficult, but it seems there is little doubt that this clash will yield a high scoreline. In those four previously discussed clashes there were no fewer than 19 goals, while both teams have been involved in some exciting encounters over the past few months.
There have been over 2.5 goals scored in nine of Tottenham's last ten Champions League games and in each of their last SIX Premier League games, while eight of Inter’s last nine Serie A games have also surpassed that same total.
Furthermore, the Nerazzurri have conceded at least two goals in three of their last four home league games. That makes for an intriguing option, with 888Sport offering odds of 21/20 on there being more than 2.5 goals on Tuesday evening, while the same bookmaker is offering 11/4 on there being more than 3.5.
Following on neatly from the plethora of goals in matches involving these two sides, perhaps it is worth considering a bet on them each to find the back of the net in this encounter. Inter might have been held scoreless in two of their four Serie A fixtures in 2017/18, but it is well worth noting that they have conceded in all but one of them.
At the same time, Tottenham’s back four has been equally porous and has allowed all but one of their Premier League opponents to score so far this term while grabbing goals in all five of those matches.
Backing that trend to continue is an interesting option, with Bet365 offering odds of 4/5 on both teams scoring. For those looking for extra value, the same bookmaker is offering 9/2 on a Spurs win with both teams scoring, which is almost certainly a possibility given the recent form of this pair.