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Inter Milan v Tottenham Hotspur: Preview
Rafael Benitez reckons Inter Milan will face a better Tottenham side on
Wednesday night than the one that beat his Liverpool team to fourth
place in the Barclays Premier League last season.
- Inter Milan v Tottenham Hotspur LIVE from 7.45pm
Inter boss Benitez has been handed a quick reunion with Spurs after the holders were paired with the north Londoners in Champions League Group A.
Liverpool regularly finished in the Premier League top four during Benitez's six-year reign, which ended in the summer when they could only manage seventh place. Tottenham, meanwhile, qualified for the Champions League for the first time and have so far impressed in Europe's elite club competition, having matched Inter's feat of taking four points from their opening two group games.
Benitez has been impressed with their progress, saying today: "I believe that Tottenham have improved quite a lot.
"They invested a lot of money and now they have a lot of quality players in the squad. So I believe that we have to be very attentive."
Spurs will be missing two of their best players in the suspended Rafael van der Vaart and the injured Ledley King, while Inter could be able to call upon recently-recovered trio Esteban Cambiasso, Goran Pandev and Ivan Cordoba.
"If they are in the squad, that means they can play," said Benitez.
"For how long is a question I can only answer after Wednesday's training session."
Benitez faced a thankless task succeeding Jose Mourinho at all-conquering Inter during the summer but he is confident of building a better side than last season's treble-winning team.
"It's true that always it's difficult when you have won a lot of trophies to change things," he said.
"But I felt the players were quite happy to change something and try to keep the same mentality, the same idea, when they were playing counter-attack, and try to improve a little bit in possession.
"It was easy for me because, talking with them, they were saying, 'Okay, we like to do this and we will try to do it'."
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp insisted he would not put the reins on his side, vowing to stick to his attacking principles at the San Siro.
Asked if Tottenham would "start like an express train", as they did in last month's draw at Werder Bremen, when they raced to a 2-0 lead, Redknapp said: "We always have a go; we play an attacking game.
"We'll look to have a go Wednesday and try to cause them problems. We won't just look to sit back and soak up pressure for 90 minutes; that's not the way we play.
"We'll be positive and see what we can do."
Taking the game to Inter will be all the more difficult in the absence of Van der Vaart, who has been a revelation since his deadline-day move from Real Madrid.
"Obviously, he changes the way we play," Redknapp said.
"We played one system when Rafa was playing and it suited him fine. He's not here but the other players can play the same type of role.
"Luka Modric is a world-class player, so he could easily slot into that same role that Rafa plays."
Spurs' best chance of winning appears to be stopping Samuel Eto'o from scoring, with the Cameroon striker carrying Inter almost single-handedly with his goals of late.
Redknapp said: "We've got to be aware of Eto'o. I followed Eto'o when he was at Real Mallorca; I was the manager of West Ham.
"I watched him, I think, about nine times. Every Sunday, I went to watch him play and I was interested in taking him to London eight, nine years ago maybe.
"I know all about Eto'o; he's a fantastic player. It was a great deal for Inter; what an amazing deal to swap him (with Zlatan Ibrahimovic). I think Inter certainly got an amazing deal there."
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