Inter take on Tottenham Hotspur in the first round of this season’s UEFA Champions League group stage games. Mauricio Pochettino’s side were knocked out last season by an experienced Juventus team, and will want to avoid suffering another defeat to Italian opposition on Tuesday.
Inter will be under pressure too, making their first appearance in the Champions League since 2012. The club will be eager to make a statement of intent on football’s biggest stage.
With both sides in indifferent form in the build-up to the game, a win could provide both squads with a much needed confidence boost with fixtures coming thick and fast.
Ahead of the heavily anticipated fixture on Tuesday evening, here is a combined XI selected from the two squads.
1. Samir Handanovic
With Hugo Lloris unavailable, the choice between Michel Vorm and Samir Handanovic was an easy one.
The 34-year-old has been an ever-present between the sticks for Inter since signing in 2012 from Udinese. Keeping 16 clean sheets last term, the imposing Slovenian made a number of highlight reel saves throughout last season and was crucial to his side’s Champions League qualification.
2. Toby Alderweireld
Having settled his dispute with manager Mauricio Pochettino, the ball-playing defender is back in the Spurs side. Capable of playing in a back three and in a partnership, the Belgian’s adaptability has seen him shine in a number of systems under Pochettino.
When given consistent game-time, the former Ajax man has shown he is one of the best defenders in Europe and has built a formidable understanding with fellow centre backs Jan Vertonghen and Davinson Sanchez.
3. Milan Skriniar
The 23-year-old defender has emerged as one of the brightest prospects in Europe, possessing defensive understanding and positional awareness that belies his years.
The Slovakian international is equally comfortable in possession of the ball, a quality which sees him selected over Davinson Sanchez here.
4. Jan Vertonghen
Now entering the latter stages of his career, the Belgian’s reputation as one of the Premier League’s best defenders is undisputed. Blessed with deceptive pace and ever-increasing experience at the top level, Vertonghen is a formidable force at the back for Spurs.
With Alderweireld absent for much of last season, Vertonghen stepped up and became a reliable partner for youngster Davinson Sanchez, helping Spurs keep 15 clean sheets.
5. Kieran Trippier
Playing on the right of a midfield four Trippier gets the nod due to his excellent delivery from wide positions. The England full-back provided nine assists last season, and displayed a burgeoning talent from set-pieces in the World Cup.
The 27-year-old has made the right-back position his own having fended off competition from Ivorian Serge Aurier. There are currently very few players that provide such a source of creativity from full-back.
6. Mousa Dembélé
While the Belgian midfielder’s contribution may not always be visible in statistics, his class is undoubted.
Capable of gliding away from his opponents due to seamless acceleration and excellent ball control, the 31-year-old provides a unique balance between defence and attack.
7. Radja Nainggolan
Known for his aggressive and combative style of play, the midfielder has been deployed further forward since making his move to the San Siro.
The all-rounder scored six goals and created 11 last season, while playing predominantly in front of the defence for AS Roma. This season, with more license to get forward, fans can expect an even more impressive return.
8. Ben Davies
In the absence of Danny Rose for the majority of last season for various reasons, Davies developed into one of the best left-backs in the league.
Equally adept at going forward as well as defending, the Welshman created six goals for his side last year. This season he has found himself competing with Danny Rose again, however, Pochettino’s preference to select Davies when fielding a back three suggests he feels Davies provides a better attacking option.
9. Christian Eriksen
The Dane has become one of the most established playmakers in Europe with a reputation for his excellent vision, passing ability and free kicks.
The Ajax academy graduate possesses the ability to unlock any defence, and showed that he is capable of producing against the very best last season with superb performances against Real Madrid and Juventus in the Champions League.
10. Ivan Perisic
It was a tough call between the Croatian and Tottenham forward Son Heung-min, but the former Dortmund winger just edges it.
Possessing power, pace, trickery and a good shot, the 29-year-old has seen his stock rise due to impressive performances on the international stage. With two goals already this term, the wide-man has seemingly continued his form from last season.
11. Harry Kane
Even with a goalscoring record such as Mauro Icardi’s, there really was no contest here. Harry Kane has demonstrated consistently that he is one of the best centre-forwards in world football.
Able to lead the line on his own, Kane is capable of scoring all types of goals. Despite a slow start to this campaign, the goals will undoubtedly start flowing once again.