Tottenham’s target: stop Eto’o, stop Inter

Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp will have a simple team talk before Wednesday’s Champions League Group A clash at Inter Milan – stop Samuel Eto’o and the holders can be beaten.

By Mark Meadows (Reuters)

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Published: Tue 19 Oct 2010, 3:24 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:36 AM

The Inter forward has scored 12 goals in 11 competitive games this term, and with fellow strikers Diego Milito and Goran Pandev injured, the Cameroonian has become crucial to Inter after a relatively quiet campaign last season.

Fans and pundits have talked of Inter becoming too dependent on Eto’o, but the coach and club president have differing views.

“He is in great form and it’s a good thing for us, but the team can score goals in various ways,” coach Rafael Benitez, well known to Spurs fans after six years in England with Liverpool, said.

Inter president Massimo Moratti, whose team was criticised in the past for relying too heavily on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, is not bothered if Eto’o is too important as long as it yields results.

“When we were Ibrahimovic dependent, we won two league titles, so I’m not sorry about the current situation,” he said.

Inter sold forward Mario Balotelli in the transfer window and made no acquisitions, so the question for them now is who gets the goals if Eto’o has a bad day.

Wesley Sneijder is in the running for world footballer of the year but he is a playmaker, not an out-and-out goalscorer.

The injuries to Milito and Pandev mean Benitez has been forced to play youngsters Coutinho and Jonathan Biabiany out wide in his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation.

It worked in the 4-0 win over Werder Bremen in their last Champions League game, when Eto’o bagged a hat-trick, but less so in Sunday’s 1-0 victory at Cagliari, when Eto’o had to deal with fans’ racist abuse before securing a superb winner.

Former Barcelona man Eto’o is flourishing because treble hero Milito is out and he can play as the main striker. When the Argentine returns, Eto’o will probably be moved out wide again given Inter’s lack of depth.

Buys are expected in January, with media talk of an ambitious bid for Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, but for now the European champions look vulnerable. The injured midfield linchpin Esteban Cambiasso also misses the Tottenham game.

Redknapp has his own problems, with midfielder Rafael van der Vaart, who has made a superb start to his Tottenham career, suspended and defender Ledley King limping off with a groin injury in Saturday’s 2-1 win at Fulham in the premier league.

King’s fellow centre-backs Michael Dawson and Younes Kaboul have knocks, so William Gallas is set to partner Sebastien Bassong despite not being fully fit.

“He’s got to play, there’s no one else,” Redknapp said of Gallas.

“Whether you can get three games in a week out of him, though, is going to be difficult. I’ll probably have to take a chance on Wednesday.”

Tottenham are looking forward to one of the biggest games in the club’s history following their 4-1 thrashing of Twente Enschede in their last Champions League outing. They are also without long-term absentee Jermain Defoe, but Aaron Lennon impressed on his return from injury against Fulham.

Inter and Spurs lead Group A on four points from two group games so far.

Probable teams:

Inter Milan: 1-Julio Cesar; 13-Maicon, 6-Lucio, 25-Walter Samuel, 26-Cristian Chivu; 5-Dejan Stankovic, 4-Javier Zanetti; 29-Coutinho, 10-Wesley Sneijder, 88-Jonathan Biabiany; 9-Samuel Eto’o

Tottenham Hotspur: 1-Heurelho Gomes; 2-Alan Hutton, 19-Sebastien Bassong, 13-William Gallas, 32-Benoit Assou-Ekotto; 7-Aaron Lennon, 6-Tom Huddlestone, 8-Jermaine Jenas, 3-Gareth Bale; 14-Luca Modric, 15-Peter Crouch

Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia)

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