Champions League Preview: Inter vs Spurs and Young Boys vs Man U
The Champions League group stage begins this week with 32 of Europe’s top football teams beginning their long hard battle to try to win the title. There are a number of English teams in this year’s competition, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City.
There is a long way to go between now and qualification for the last sixteen, and there are sure to be some very exciting matches along the way. None of the teams will want to risk dropping out at this stage, but luckily for fans of the teams, the bookmakers think that all four will progress.
There are going to be some fantastic matches over the next few days, but here we will take a look at two of the matches featuring English Premier League sides, Inter Milan vs Tottenham Hotspur, and Young Boys vs Manchester United. Read on to find out all the latest team news, the bookies’ odds, and much more.
Inter Milan vs Tottenham Hotspur – Tuesday, 18th September
This is likely to be a tough opening match for Tottenham Hotspur in a difficult Champions League group stage campaign. The game is taking place in one of Europe’s most famous stadiums, the San Siro, and the home team are sure to make life very difficult for their guests.
Eight years ago, the two were in the same Champions League group and produced two highly entertaining performances. In the first game Spurs were reduced to ten men and battled to a valiant 4 – 3 defeat. Two weeks later, Tottenham got their revenge with a 3 – 1 victory at White Hart Lane.
We're on our way! ?????#COYS pic.twitter.com/GmzZ91QbHw
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) September 17, 2018
That year saw Tottenham top their group and reach the quarterfinals. Now Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping that he can inspire his team to a similar feat, despite the tricky group they are in together with Barcelona and PSV.
Spurs have had a decent start to their domestic season. They enjoyed wins over Newcastle, Fulham and Manchester United, before losing to Watford. Over the weekend they also lost at home to Liverpool in a game that is sure to leave them feeling disappointed.
The team failed to sign any players over the summer, and depth could be an issue for the team as they aim to mount a serious challenge both domestically and in Europe. The team is suffering from a number of injuries at present, with star players, such as Harry Kane, appearing to be far from their best.
By contrast, Inter Milan spent a huge amount of money over the summer and brought in nine new players during the transfer window.
They brought the Belgian midfielder Radja Nainggolan from Roma, and they strengthened their defence by signing Stefan de Vrij, Kwadwo Asamoah and Sime Vrsaljko. Furthermore, they also have players such as Mauro Icardi, who scored 29 times last season, as well as Ivan Perisic and Keita Balde.
Spurs have a very well drilled back line, but they are likely to come under heavy attack in this game. However, the return to form of Toby Alderweireld and the improvement of Davinson Sanchez means that they may be able to hold Inter Milan at bay.
Meetings between these teams always seem to produce lots of goals. They last played in 2016 and Spurs won the game 6 – 1. Before that they played twice in 2013, in the Europa League, Spurs won the first game 3 – 0 and lost the second 4 – 1. In all of their European games, it has been the home team that won and Spurs are sure to be desperate to break this trend on Tuesday.
Counting against Inter Milan is the fact that this is the first time that they have played in the Champions League for seven years, and there are sure to be some nerves around. However, Spurs have won just one of their previous nine European matches away from home against Italian opposition.
It looks set to be a very close match and there is not much to choose between the teams at the bookies. Bet365 and William Hill have Inter Milan at 6/4, while Spurs are at 15/8 at Bet365 and 9/5 at William Hill. At both bookmakers, the odds on a draw are just over 2/1.
If you think it will be another high scoring affair then you can get some great odds in the region of 30/1 for score lines such as 3 – 2 to either team. Unsurprisingly the shortest odds, of 5/1, are on a 1 – 1 draw, followed by a 1 – 0 win for Inter at 7/1.
However, Inter Milan have not drawn at home in the Champions League since a 2 – 2 draw with Dynamo Kyiv in October 2009. Since then, they have won nine games and lost just four. Regardless of all the statistics and odds, what looks to be certain is that it will be a very exciting match.
Young Boys vs Manchester United – Wednesday, 19th September
This is the first time that these teams have faced each other in the Champions League and Manchester United will be looking to take advantage of a relatively easy start ahead of far harder matches against Valencia and Juventus.
Manchester United are overwhelming favourites to collect all three points at the Stade de Suisse on Wednesday, and should have little problem overcoming their opponents.
That said, Jose Mourinho has had a tricky start to the new season with the team losing at home to Spurs and before that away to Brighton & Hove Albion, before settling down to defeat Burnley.
None of Manchester United’s four first team centre backs, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly, have been able to provide much stability, and there are rumours going round about dressing room discontent at Old Trafford.
The @ChampionsLeague returns this week and @JuanMata8 can't wait! #MUFC
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 17, 2018
Had the team lost to Burnley then there would likely have been a full-blown crisis at the club. However, they won 0 – 2 away just in time for the international break. Nonetheless, if they fail to beat the Young Boys then there will be serious questions asked of the team and their two-time Champions League winning manager.
Manchester United’s fans will be hoping to see more from the team’s attacking players, with the likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Alexis Sanchez yet to find their best form this season.
Romelu Lukau, the team’s star striker, is the most likely player to score, having hit home three goals since he returned to first team action following the World Cup.
Meanwhile, the Young Boys overcame Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League play-offs to reach the group stage of the competition. Guillaume Hoarau scored two away from home against the Croatian team and helped them advance 3 – 2 on aggregate.
However, with the Frenchman now 34 years old, United should have little problem overcoming the experienced marksman, which will put even more pressure on the Young Boys’ Serbian winger Miralem Sulejmani to produce a creative spark in the final third. Since he joined the club in 2015, the former Ajax and Benfica star has scored 29 goals in 95 appearances.
During the Young Boys’ domestic title winning campaign last season, the ex-Newcastle United defender Kevin Mbabu was impressive enough to attract interest from the recently promoted Fulham. However, the 23 year old was denied a move back to England after the Young Boys reportedly put a £10 million price tag on the player.
The Young Boys have won just one of their previous six matches against a side form England, that victory was a 3 – 2 win over Tottenham Hotspur in the first leg of the 2010/11 Champions League qualifying encounter. Furthermore, this is the first time that they have hosted an English team in a major competition since February 2015 when they hosted Everton in the last 32 of the Europa League, and lost 1 – 4.
However, after their poor start to the season, there is far more pressure on Manchester United than the Young Boys going into this match. If the Young Boys are able to use this to their advantage to win the match then it will be one of the biggest upsets that Manchester United have ever suffered.
However, at all the major bookmakers, Manchester United are overwhelming favourites to win with odds in the region of 7/10 while the odds on the Young Boys are closer to 4/1 and a draw has been placed at around 3/1. However, the shortest odds in the correct score market are on a 1 – 1 draw (6/1), followed by a 1 – 0 or 2 – 1 win for Manchester United (13/2 and 7/1 respectively).
This suggests that while Manchester United are the favourites to win, given their recent form an upset is not beyond the realms of possibility.