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Europa League Preview: Stjarnan vs. Inter

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The Nerazzurri return to the continental stage with a trip to Iceland…

John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Inter opens up the 2014-15 campaign with a Europa League playoff tilt against Stjarnan. It's not the sexiest of ties and it's definitely a far cry from that magical night in Madrid, but it's the first step in the Nerazzurri's long climb back to European relevancy

There is a renewed sense of optimism in the air at Appiano Gentile after Inter bolstered its squad significantly in the summer.

Nemanja Vidic, Dodo, Yann M'Vila, Pablo Osvaldo and Gary Medel will give the club enough quality and depth to make a real run at one of the Champions League spots this season.

However, there are still some question marks surrounding the squad as a number of players need to be offloaded in the next two weeks.

But first things first as Walter Mazzarri's men make the trek to Iceland to battle a motley crew of misfits known more for their goal celebrations than their exploits on the pitch.

Judge for yourselves:

Stjarnan are European minnows in every sense of the word but have beaten Bangor City, Motherwell and Lech Poznan to reach this point and have had boatloads of fun doing it.

Inter is a different animal to be sure, and although Stjarnan will be heavy underdogs, manager Runar Pall Sigmundsson was over the moon when the draw was announced.

"It feels like we are still up in the sky," Sigmundsson said to Uefa.com. "We're lucky to meet such a big club, it's big for everybody in Stjarnan and very exciting."

It remains to be seen how excited Sigmundsson and company will be after the first leg, but one thing is for sure: they will have an emphatic goal celebration planned to please the masses if the opportunity arises.

THE VITALS

Date: Wednesday, August 20

Time: 5:00 pm EST

Venue: Laugardalsvollur

BATTLE DOSSIER

Inter Probable Starting Formation: 3-5-2: Handanovic; Ranocchia, Vidic, Juan Jesus; Jonathan, M'Vila, Kovacic, Hernanes, Dodo; Osvaldo, Icardi

Stjarnan Probable Starting Formation: 4-3-3: Jonsson; Vemmelund, Laxdal, Arnason, Rauschenberg; Praest, A. Johannsson, Punyed; Bjorgvinsson, Finsen, Toft

Unavailable For Duty: Rodrigo Palacio is not 100% fit after Argentina's run to the World Cup final and has been replaced by Zdravko Kuzmanovic on the club's Europa League list.

Operation Let's Nuke LazyTown Once And For All: The objective here is to get in and out of Iceland as quickly as possible while inflicting a demoralizing blow that will render Sportacus, Robbie Rotten and the rest of the enemy foot soldiers impotent for the return leg.

Enemy Of The State: Olafur Karl Finsen has five goals in the competition already, albeit four have come from the penalty spot. Still, he'll be one player that Vidic should keep an extra eye on.

Fear Factor: 1: Stjarnan is as scary as laying in a hammock with an ice cold Swayze Pale Ale, while listening to Sigur Ros on a warm, sunny August afternoon.

Medal Of Honour: Mauro Icardi picks up where he left off last season with a brace to give the Nerazzurri a comfortable cushion ahead of the second leg at San Siro.

Likely Outcome: It's hard to see anything but an Inter win although stranger things have happened. It doesn't have to be a resounding victory as there's still probably a little rust left to shake off. A 2-0 win will do the trick.