Yes, Europa League fans (I know you’re out there), the second biggest contintental club competition in Europe returns on Thursday, with arguably the glitziest tie of the round coming at White Hart Lane as Tottenham welcome Italian giants Inter Milan.
Spurs and Inter met in the group stage of the Champions League in 2010/11, with Inter triumphing 4-3 at the San Siro and Tottenham running out 3-1 winners at the Lane.
Despite a famous home win, Spurs fans may have fonder memories of their defeat in Italy, as it signalled the arrival of a certain Gareth Bale on the world stage as the Welshman scored a famous second-half hat-trick.
Bale has gone from strength to strength since then and is reportedly now worth close to £50 million, with the likes of Bayern Munich and Real Madrid ready to test Spurs chairman Daniel Levy’s resolve in the summer.
He is currently one of the hottest commodities in football and scored again as he helped his side to a 2-1 north London derby win over Arsenal on Sunday.
Tongue-in-cheek critics have suggested that Bale is single-handedly guiding Andre Villas-Boas’ side to the top four this season, but there are numerous talented players surrounding him and they will be crucial if Tottenham are going to get past Inter.
Moussa Dembele has been impressive since his summer move from Fulham, as have goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and former Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen, who won man of the match against the Gunners on Sunday.
Spurs have been in imperious form as a collective of late, unbeaten in 12 in all competitions, and look good for a Premier League finish as high as third.
A very late Dembele screamer at Stade Gerland saw Villas-Boas’ men sneak past Lyon in the last round of the Europa League, but their task does not get any easier as the Nerazzurri come to town.
With a tightened defence thanks to Vertonghen and the born-again Michael Dawson, and with Bale scoring all the goals (nine of Tottenham’s last 12 have come from him), Spurs look in a good position to grab a vital advantage in the home leg and are 67/100 with bwin to triumph on Thursday night.
Inter have had a strange season in Serie A, starting like a house on fire under manager Andrea Stramaccioni, winning ten games in a row in a golden period between September and November, but they have since suffered from inconsistency.
The Nerazzurri have lost eight of their last 11 away games in all competitions, but have won their last two against Cluj and Catania.
Stramaccioni guided his side past Cluj with some ease in the previous round, winning 5-0 on aggregate, and will be hoping to take that form to north London.
However, all is not rosy in the Inter camp and there are question marks over the involvement of star striker Antonio Cassano after the notoriously hot-headed Italy international had a bust up with his manager recently.
Even with that in mind though, the fact is that this is still Inter Milan, who sit fourth in Serie A, and still have potential match-winners in Rodrigo Palacio, Cassano and Freddy Guarin, backed up ably by veterans such as Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso, and you can back the Italians to win on Thursday at very generous odds of 18/5.
While the statistics do not support the notion of a draw, that is not to discount the possibility that these two will cancel each other out.
Inter’s away form in the league has almost been evened out by wins and losses, with just one draw between seven successes and six defeats.
Spurs have drawn four of their 14 Premier League games at the Lane this season, and if you think that a stalemate is on the cards in the first leg then odds of 29/10 will be your reward.
However, having seen a lot of both teams recently, it should be a fascinating encounter, but the added ingredients of Bale and Inter’s ability to concede silly goals lead me to think that a home win – albeit a narrow one – is the likeliest outcome.
If, like the rest of the nation, you are caught in Bale fever, then you can find some terrific odds on his left foot causing Inter more pain.
The former Southampton winger is 15/4 to score the first goal of the game, 5/4 to score at any time and a tempting 50/1 to bag another hat-trick. Expect Bale effigies across the blue-and-black half of Milan if he does though.
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Follow David on Twitter @whichdave