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Europa League preview: Bale set to give Inter headaches

Inter Milan host Tottenham in the pick of the Europa League fixtures on Thursday after their last-gasp 3-2 win over Catania on Sunday.

Tottenham’s stocks could not be higher after defeating north London rivals Arsenal 2-1 on Sunday to move up to third in the Premier League, nor could their star winger’s Gareth Bale who was on the scoresheet again.

Spurs’ other speedster Aaron Lennon scored the second goal against the Gunners and is reported to be on Inter’s transfer radar, adding more spice to the round-of-16 clash.

Bale carved Inter to pieces – and then right-back Maicon – with a breathtaking hat-trick when the sides last met in European competition in 2010-11.

The Welsh winger’s cameo earned Spurs a 4-3 loss away from home in the first leg of their Champions League tie after the English side had trailed 4-0.

He will be a marked man again on Thursday at the San Siro but few teams have been able to stop him all season.

Rafael Benitez’s Chelsea continue their journey in the competition against Steaua Bucharest, the Romanian side who knocked Ajax out of the competition during the last stage.

Playing in Europe’s lesser competition will be somewhat degrading for the Champions League holders but the side – and Benitez – could dearly do with taking another step towards some silverware ahead of their FA Cup clash with Manchester United at the weekend.

Viktoria Plzen stunned Napoli 5-0 on aggregate in the last round and face Fenerbahce looking to advance further.

Anzi Machachkala take on Newcastle, who will be without captain Fabricio Coloccini for another two weeks.

Stuttgart welcome Italian side Lazio to Germany in the first leg, Swisse outfit Basel entertain Zenit St Petersburg and Spain’s Levante are at home to Rubin Kazan.

Benfica take on Bordeaux at home in the first leg having never lost to French opposition in Portugal.

Wed 6 March, 2013
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