All eyes will be on the Giuseppe Meazza Thursday as Inter Milan and Eintracht Frankfurt will match up in a winner-take-all Europa League round of 16 contest.
The first match, last week, ended in a 0-0 draw after Marcelo Brozovic failed to convert a penalty in the first leg at Frankfurt.
The winner of this leg will not only advance to the next round, but also be considered a heavy favorite to win the tournament. As Frankfurt are fifth in the Bundesliga and Inter are fourth in Serie A, it could present the only opportunity for either side to win any hardware this season.
Inter Milan news
The Nerazzurri are in a critical stretch of their season with Frankfurt on Thursday followed by the Derby della Madonnina on Sunday and Lazio following the short international break on March 31.
In addition, Luciano Spalletti will be missing key elements of his team due to injury and suspension.
Kwadwo Asamoah and Martinez are both out thanks to suspension with Sime Vrsaljko also out for the season. Other big question marks are Marcelo Brozovic, Radja Nainggolan and Mauro Icardi – all of which could be out with injury.
Nainggolan is most likely out while Brozovic could be called in as a substitute after suffering a slight thigh injury in the 2-0 win over SPAL last weekend. Icardi, on the other hand, continues to nurse an injury and is unlikely to be called up.
In the midfield, that leaves Matias Vecino (back from suspension) and Borja Valero who are fully fit for the match. Joao Mario and Roberto Gagliardini are ineligible for the match, but Andrea Ranocchia could also play. However, the situation opens the door for Antonio Candreva to start.
In attack, without Martinez and Icardi, Spalletti will have to rely on Ivan Perisic and Matteo Politano. Keita Balde is the only other player available on attack, but will be coming off an injury of his own.
The only certainty is the defense. Cedric Soares will likely start in place of Asamoah with Milan Skriniar, Stefan de Vrij and Danilo D’Ambrosio completing the back line to counter a dangerous Frankfurt attack.
Possible lineup: Handanovic; Soares, Skriniar, de Vrij, D’Ambrosio; Valero, Candreva, Vecino; Perisic, Balde, Politano.
Eintracht Frankfurt news
Die Adler have some injury problems of their own as Ante Rebic is not a likely start for Adi Hutter’s side. Additionally, Frankfurt will also be without defenders Timothy Chandler and David Abraham as well as midfielder Lucas Torro.
However, Frankfurt will be looking to atone for their lack of offense in the first leg, so expect Sebastien Haller to feature more in attack.
Frankfurt are coming off a 3-0 win at Fortuna Dusseldorf on Monday, but it means that Die Adler have one less day of rest as the Nerazzurri played SPAL Sunday.
Couple that with the fact that Frankfurt will be traveling on just three days of rest and that could be a hidden benefit for Inter Milan.
Possible lineup: Trapp; Hinteregger, Hasebe, Toure, Fernandes; Rode, De Guzman, Kostic; Haller, Paciencia, Jovic.
Time and Date: 4 p.m. EDT (21:00 local) Thursday, March 14, 2019
Location: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza (Milan)
How to watch: If you are in the United States, the match will be streams on Bleacher Report Live, Univision Now and UniMas. In the United Kingdom, the match can be seen on BT Sport ESPN and BT Sport Live. In Italy, you can see the match on TV8, Sky Calcio 2, Sky Go Italia and Sky Sport Uno.
Click here to see how you can watch the match live from anywhere in the world.
What do you think? Post your comments below!