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Sunday 19 August 2018

Out-of-form Milito picked as Inter start Euro defence

Struggling Diego Milito has looked a totally different player this term to the striker who so emphatically sealed Inter Milan's Champions League triumph in May, but the Argentinian will still start tomorrow's Group A opener at Twente Enschede.

Milito will lead the line as Inter open their Champion League defence because he retains the faith of coach Rafael Benitez and, more importantly, is one of very few options up front.

"Diego will gradually get better and better. We have to work," Benitez said. "Do we lack an extra striker? I think that with Diego and Samuel (Eto'o) we can do what we have in mind. We must move more on the wings to surprise the opposing team because, by now, everyone knows how Wesley Sneijder links up with Milito."

Inter owner Massimo Moratti sold forward Mario Balotelli to Manchester City and decided not to replace him, leaving the treble winners weaker on paper than they were last season.

Benitez, whose side have been off colour for the start of the campaign, pleaded for new blood but instead has been left with only Milito, Eto'o and Goran Pandev as established forwards.

He had been playing all three at once, meaning options on the bench were scant, before surprisingly selecting inexperienced French striker Jonathan Biabiany ahead of Pandev to start Saturday's laboured 2-1 win over Udinese.

The 22-year-old did little and poses no real threat to Milito, who scored both goals in the Champions League final victory over Bayern Munich having also netted winners in the scudetto-clinching match and the Italian Cup final last May.

The early encounters of this season have been very different, however, and he has not come close to scoring, even missing a penalty in the European Super Cup defeat by Atletico Madrid.

Left-back Cristian Chivu limped out of the Udinese win and is a slight doubt for Twente, along with Dejan Stankovic, while Maicon may recover. Thiago Motta has a knee injury.

Dutch champions Twente beat VVV Venlo 2-1 on Saturday.

They stunned the Netherlands by winning their first league title and believe they can cause more surprises against Inter.

"It'll be hard but we have a chance. We always create chances at home," midfielder Wout Brama said.

"The most important thing is not to approach this match like it's a little bonus. It's the UEFA Champions League and we're the Dutch champions. We have to show that."

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